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NYSC On A Tight Budget: How Corps Members Are Faring In Nigeria’s Tough Economy

It is no longer news that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, which was officially established in 1973 by the government of General Yakubu Gowon, offers a valuable experience for young Nigerian graduates.

However, the current economic situation in the country is making it particularly challenging for corps members to navigate their years of service. With rising inflation and stagnant allowances, many are having to get creative to make ends meet.

It is worth noting that the cost of basic necessities like food, transportation, and accommodation have skyrocketed in the country. This is the aftermath of the fuel subsidy removal and floating of the nation’s currency, the Naira, by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

Also, the insecurity in some parts of the country has hindered many farmers from engaging in their usual farming activities, thereby impacting the price of foodstuff across states.

The monthly NYSC allowance, which hasn’t been adjusted for inflation, is leaving many corps members struggling to cover their essential expenses.

Many corps members have had to cut down on non-essential spending. This means eating out less, opting for cheaper transportation options, and finding ways to reduce utility bills.

To supplement their income, some corps members are turning to entrepreneurship or freelance work. This can be a great way to make ends meet, but it also adds to their workload and requires careful time management.

My NYSC Monthly Allowance Barely Last Two Weeks

Sharing his personal experience with a Naija News correspondent, a corps member serving at Ogunbode Memorial Grammar School, Igbeti, Olorunsogo Local Government, Oyo State, Abiodun John Damilola, said the monthly allowance ‘Allowee’ being provided to corps members falls short in meeting the demands of the current economic situation in Nigeria.

While lamenting the high cost of transportation in the community, just as being experienced in other places, Corper John, as he is fondly called, said his monthly allowance would barely last two weeks when paid.

According to him, the bulk of the ‘allowee’ would be allocated to transportation costs, leaving a limited amount for food, and other essential items.

“Often, I had to rely on frugal budgeting and seeking alternative means to complement my allowance, Imagine,” the corps member expressed.

Corper John further noted that the high cost of transportation is making commuting to and fro his place of primary assignment a considerable expense.

Additionally, he noted that the rising prices of food and other commodities have made it challenging to maintain a decent and nutritious diet for he and his colleagues.

“Though the allowance is intended to cover these expenses, it often proves insufficient, leading to financial strain,” he added.

“Like seriously, It is necessary for stakeholders, including the government and private organizations, to recognize these challenges and work towards providing improved financial support for corps members.

“By increasing the monthly allowance or exploring avenues for affordable housing and transportation options, the welfare and well-being of corps members can be significantly enhanced.

“The NYSC program holds tremendous potential for personal development and national unity, and addressing the challenges surrounding the allowance is crucial in ensuring a more fulfilling and impactful experience for corps members across the country,” the Corps member stressed.

My Experience As A Bauchi Corper Is So Bad

Another serving corps member from the Northeastern part of the country who chose to remain anonymous said his NYSC experience in Bauchi State is so bad to explain.

Having berated the N33,000 being paid to corps members as a monthly allowance, the individual lamented the lack of basic amenities at his place of primary assignment.

He briefly shared: “My experience as a Bauchi corper is so bad to the point that I wanted to forfeit NYSC. This particular area made it worse, with no light, unstable water and even a bad network. The cost of going to the market every day to charge and get things are far more than 33k in a month.”

Another who chose to speak berifly appealed to the government to consider increasing the monthly allowance being paid to corps members across the country.

He said: “Government should increase our allowee especially those of us in Ningi.”

Road To Survival

Naija News reports that the economic situation in Nigeria is a complex challenge, and there’s no easy solution for NYSC members.

However, while this news platform encourages a more robust monthly allowance, and special attention to other challenges being faced by corps members, the serving corps members are also admonished to take advantage of positive alternatives that can help them manage well in their various places of primary assignments.

Below are some possible ways to manage as a corps member amid the current economic hardship in the country.

Budgeting and Planning – Creating a realistic budget and sticking to it is crucial. This involves prioritizing needs over wants and planning meals to avoid food waste.

Location Matters – Accommodation costs can vary greatly depending on the state of service. Choosing a more affordable location or opting for shared housing can significantly ease the financial burden.

Community Support – Corps members can leverage the support system provided by the NYSC itself, as well as local communities. Some states offer additional stipends or subsidized housing to ease the financial strain.

Networking and Collaboration – Building relationships with fellow corps members can lead to cost-saving opportunities. Sharing resources, cooking together, and finding group transportation options can make a big difference.

However, by being resourceful, adaptable, and supportive of each other, corps members can navigate this difficult period and make the most of their service year.

The NYSC scheme itself could also play a role by advocating for an increase in allowances to better reflect the current economic reality.

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