By Kolawole Anthony
On Thursday, November 17th, the reported dismissal of Brigadier-General Muhammad Kukah Fadah as the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps floated the air. After six months of mediocrity, stagnancy, and incompetence, this could ultimately be the watershed moment for the Scheme.
Established in 1973 by the Federal Military Government of Gen Yakubu Gowon, the NYSC has evolved into a beacon of national unity and integration, designed to drive the process of carving a nation out of the multiplicity of ethnic nationalities making up the entity, Nigeria.
Over the past 49 years, the Scheme has pursued vigorously the lofty objectives of the founding fathers. The NYSC has grown exponentially, mobilizing over 350,000 Nigerian youths for service every year. It refocuses their mindsets, making them more patriotic, and amenable to be mobilized for national causes such as elections, census, polio eradication, and HIV/AIDS campaigns, among others.
Through the Scheme’s Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development program, thousands of young Nigerians are trained to set up businesses, employing others and contributing immensely to the country’s economic development.
Over the years, some great minds have led the NYSC. Col (Dr.) Ahmadu Ali, a brilliant medical doctor laid the foundation of the Scheme upon which his successors have continued to build. Col Ali, Col Edet Akpan, Col SA Sofoluwe, Brig Gen Samson Dule, Brig Gen Yusuf Bomoi, Brig Gen Maharazu Tsiga, Brig Gen NT Okore-Affia, Brig Gen Olawumi, and Major Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim all made varying degrees of outstanding contributions to the progress of the Scheme as Chief Executives, for which posterity will remember them.
However, nearly half a century of progress was hampered by Fadah. Appointed in May, the Brigadier General negates the philosophy of the Scheme with a controversial antecedent, lacking the requisite qualification and persona. It was similar to picking a neophyte for a top management job.
Fadah is a representation of all that is wrong with Nigeria. It is very surprising how the character rose to the rank of General in the Nigerian Army that has produced the likes of Gen Muhammadu Buhari, Gen Joe Garba, Gen Dambazzau, Gen Domkat Bali, Gen Tunde Idiagbon, Gen TY Danjuma mention just a few.
Even more shocking is the aberration that a man who evaded national service was rewarded as NYSC Chief Executive. One wonders how he got commissioned into the Army without the presentation of the Certificate of Service; without passing through the Scheme when he was officially within the age of service at the time he purportedly graduated.
Fadah who reflects a poor image of the Army, particularly the Education Corps took over the headship of the institution without any iota of agenda. Disappointingly, it was learned that days after he assumed office, some members of staff were able to articulate a 5 — point agenda for him, but he couldn’t elucidate it to staff and members of the public.
It is a shame that a man who can hardly string a sentence in English, a man who cannot reason properly, let alone critical reasoning was dumped to preside over the fate of millions of youths upon whose shoulders the destiny of Nigeria lies.
His main interest was to patronize marabouts whom he has in abundance virtually in every State of the Federation, whom he regularly doles out cash running in millions of Naira. This same character always sat on the floor in his office with dirty-looking marabouts eating food with his bare hands as NYSC staff members and visitors watch him in abject disappointment and disgust.
Fadah whose office became a harem of sorts for women of easy virtue from 8 pm debased the position of NYSC Director-General. His vulgarity is indescribable. A Corps Member of Zamfara origin once expressed shock at Fadah who had asked him to validate what he, Fadah heard about women of his tribe whom he said are highly promiscuous. That was a discussion that a Director-General who should be on a moral high ground had with a Corps Member whom he is supposed to be a moral compass.
He regularly brought contractors into his office, one after the other to personally negotiate his pecuniary interest on contracts already or about being executed is his past time; while staff welfare, particularly their statutory entitlements was negated.
For instance, it was learned that he once approved that some staff embarks on official assignments to as far as Bayelsa, Lagos, and Rivers, among others with a duty tour allowance of fifteen thousand Naira — covering the cost of transportation to and fro Abuja, feeding, as well as accommodation. On the other, he spent millions of Naira in contravention of the Financial Regulations junketing around the country on journeys that do not add any value to the Scheme.
There were reports that he once had issues with mental health which hitherto remained in the realm of conjecture. However, his mannerisms, for which we sympathize with him give credence to the fact that he must have had that issue.
Otherwise, how can one explain the situations the Director-General will be walking around the office in military uniform, wearing bathroom slippers; going to the NYSC Mosque to sleep in his military uniform, going to NYSC camps in uniform to sleep in the daytime, when Orientation program is not on, sitting down on the dirty floor of NYSC Lift, because of tiredness, according to him!
NYSC Chief Executive should inspire confidence in Staff and Corps Members; be in full grasp of the NYSC Act, among others. Fadah does not even know why he was in NYSC as Chief Executive.
Thankfully, President Muhammadu Buhari has acted to save the nation from more embarrassment. The process of rebuilding the monumental damage that he has inflicted on the Scheme will begin. May we never suffer another Fadah.
Kolowole PhD wrote this piece from Abuja.