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Deepening The Fight Against COVID-19: NYSC On Focus


The fight against the existence of mankind which COVID-19 portends has taken a new dimension in Nigeria, as confirmed cases of community infections have been on the upward swing across the States and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

This unfortunate development has assumed grave danger to the wellbeing of the entire population, and a potential set back to the earlier perceived gains recorded in the fight against the pandemic by the country.

Doubtlessly, the situation at hand requires urgent and coordinated approach to contain.

In response to this critical challenge posed by the scourge, which has decimated scores of lives in Nigeria, members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who have been in the frontline of the national effort to stem the tide of the pandemic have rejigged their campaign efforts against the hydra-headed monster –  extending the battle line to the rural areas,  a move in tandem with the community development strides which the Scheme has espoused in over 46 years of its existence.

Unarguably endowed with a reservoir of talented and educated virile –  youths, exuding great energy, with specialisations cutting across diverse fields of study, the Corps through its members have continued to initiate and execute a number of interventions nationwide in support of the national aspirations to flatten the COVID – 19 curves.

For instance, as part of their responsibilities in respect of the Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers(HIRD); a Community Development Service programme of the Scheme, Corps Medical Personnel run mobile clinics, traversing the nooks and crannies of the country, providing essential and quality free medicare to the people, especially the less privileged in the society.

The programme serves as a platform for addressing the health challenges of the rural communities, particularly those that experience difficulties in accessing healthcare.

Under the programme, periodic medical outreach to the rural communities is carried out and usually lasts for one week. Apart from the centrally coordinated outreaches conducted simultaneously nationwide, each  NYSC State/FCT Secretariats also mobilises the Corps medical teams to conduct outreaches in the various communities on a quarterly basis.

In addition, Corps members in different localities work out a schedule, where they move from one community to another, within their host communities to sensitise the populace on the safety protocols of COVID – 19.

This structure is available, functional and playing a critical role in complementing the government’s efforts to curb the rising cases of COVID-19 through community infection in Nigeria.

During the sensitisation programme, Corps members preach and demonstrate social distancing, regular hand washing, use of surface and hand sanitisers, as well as wearing of face masks which have proven to be effective in curtailing the spread of the highly infectious virus.

It is heartwarming to note that these Nigerians, burning with youthful energy and zest, always ready to impact positively on the nation also produced and donated to the Federal and State Governments, in addition to some communities NYSC customised face masks, hand sanitizer and liquid soap.

The sensitisation campaign equally involved advocacy visits to prominent traditional rulers in their respective communities, police stations, worship centres, and other public places where community theatre; drama, stand – up comedy and film shows are utilised by the Corps members as veritable tools to educate the public on the pandemic while observing social distancing.

It is imperative to state that the theatre outreach equally affords the Corps members the platform to donate cartons of hand sanitizer, liquid soap and facemasks to the institutions, while the materials are also placed at some strategic locations for public use.

To make the message more penetrating, banners, billboards on the raging issue are strategically positioned, while radio and television programmes on COVID-19 are anchored by Corps members periodically in English language, pidgin English and other indigenous languages in the various media organisations across the country to drive home the message on COVID – 19 preventive measures.

In order to cushion the adverse effects of the quarantine order imposed across the nation, and encourage people to abide by COVID-19 protocols, Corps members distributed free of charge, food items and other essential palliatives to different households in some of the communities they visited for the advocacy.

Other areas of intervention include; enlightenment campaigns on environmental sanitation, refuse –  disposal management, drug abuse, general hygiene and regular check of blood pressure and many others.

Corps members in the course of their assignments have also on several occasions identified disease-infested animals with a view to stopping the rural communities from consuming such animals that can be vectors of harmful bacteria and virus.

Interestingly, the Corps Pharmacists and Nurses posted to the rural areas assist in dispensing drugs effectively, as well as checking fake drugs in the Health Centres, and taking proper care of the patients in accordance with standard medical practice in conformity with COVID-19 protocols.

The gains derived from these campaigns are no doubt numerous, and cannot be quantified in monetary terms. Feedbacks across communities in the country indicate that the level of consciousness on COVID-19 is encouraging and reassuring. The rural dwellers do reach out to Corps members after the sensitisation exercises to seek further clarification on some emerging issues l, or misconceptions about COVID-19. Such issues are promptly addressed by Corps members to the satisfaction of the people. For some of the rural dwellers, it is during such advocacy visits that they have the opportunity to interface with qualified medical doctors for the first time in their lives.

These interventions are increasingly consolidating and deepening government efforts in stemming the tide of community infections and effectively addressing COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.

Still in support of the battle against the scourge and going down to the specifics, a Corps member serving in Kano, Abdullahi Saninfabricated an automated hand wash machine that dispenses water and liquid soap. Similarly, in Oyo State, a group of Corps members comprising; Adeyanju Adeyemi, Afolabi Victor and Ogunmoye Victor jointly fabricated a hand wash machine for the same purpose. In Kwara State Corps members  Abdulsalam Abubakar and Obiefuna Ebuka constructed dual-faced hand wash dispenser.

In Ondo State, Corps member Israel Arogbonlo donated his one month stipend to the State Government in support of the Government’s effort to raise funds for the fight against the pandemic

In Lagos State, Corps members have been engaged by the State  Government in the distribution of palliatives. In addition to that, Corps members in Lagos Island and Eti-Osa 1 Local Government Areas, donated food items and other palliatives to cushion the effect of the lockdown imposed in the State to check the pandemic.

In the same vein, Corps members in Abua/Odual Local Government Area of Rivers State donated cartons of food packs and hand sanitisers to the Local Government Council to support the Government’s efforts in the war against the virus.

In Arewa Local Government Area of Kebbi State, Corps members focused on fumigation of the Local Government Council Secretariat Complex, Staff Quarters, Police Station and Corps Lodges in the area, so as to rid them of Coronavirus and harmful microscopic organisms.

In Osogbo, Osun State, a Corps member, Omolara Kolawole donated cartons of food items to the State Government, While, Kingsley Dimkpa of Ebonyi State Secretariat produced and donated sanitisers and antiseptic soaps to the Afikpo  Local Government Council in support of the national effort to curb the pandemic.

In Zamfara State, Corps members under the Charity Community Development Service Group donated cartons of food, detergents and other sanitary items to Gusau Motherless Orphanage Home.

Also, in Niger State Corps member Wonah Sunday Owuche donated food packs and sanitary items to the Niger State Orphanage Home Minna.

In Jos, the Plateau State Capital, Corps member Joy Chioma Anyaegbu produced and donated to the State Government sanitisers and liquid soap in support of the effort to check the spread of the virus.

It is interesting to note that Corps members in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Gombe and Delta States were requested by their respective governments to mass-produce face masks to meet the growing demand by the people.

In other states of the federation, several interventions by Corps members, tailored towards the battle are ongoing, ranging from the production and donation of hand sanitizer, liquid soap, face masks to strategic advocacy visits.

Over the years, the NYSC has served as a reliable stand – by partner of government at all levels, arising from its vantage position as a repository of sophisticated manpower, available across the length and breadth of communities in the country year-round. Notably, they are sufficiently detached from local politics and prejudices. As such, they are the most suitable change agents driving the process of nation-building.

Therefore, to develop the spirit of discipline and patriotism in the Corps members is not the duty of government alone. It should be a shared responsibility.

Consequently, the Scheme needs the concerted efforts and cooperation of all the tiers of government, in addition to host communities, corporate bodies and public-spirited individuals in order to sustain its steady growth and pivotal roles in national affairs.

Indeed, the NYSC remains a strategic institution and great asset to the nation. There is no gainsaying the fact that with the Scheme, the nation has put in place an enduring instrument of national cohesion and development, reckoned with, within and beyond the shores of Nigeria.

By Christopher Lot

Writes from Abuja







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