Most state governments have suspended the monthly allowances being paid to members of the National Youth Service Corps due to the economic crunch affecting the country.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that some of the states stopped paying the allowances more than one year ago. Before the economic downturn, most states of the federation were paying stipends to the NYSC members deployed in their areas of jurisdiction in order to augment the N19, 800 the Federal Government was giving to the corps members.
But as the reality of the economic downturn is biting harder, Saturday PUNCH learnt that some states suspended payment of the stipends, thereby leaving the corps members to depend solely on the N19,800 the Federal Government is paying to them. This has forced the corps members to lament.
The situation is more pronounced in Kwara State, where the government has not paid corps members serving in the state for more than two years now.
The NYSC Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Oladipo Morakinyo, confirmed to one of our correspondents on Thursday in Ilorin that the corps members had not received a dime from the state government for many years.
He, however, claimed that the non-payment of the corps members’ allowances was not as a result of the state’s dwindling revenue.
Morakinyo could also not give specific reason for the non-payment, but only said the development had lasted for many years. Corps members serving in Ondo State said they had waited endlessly for the government’s promise to pay them the allowances. According to some of the corps members who are serving directly with the ministries and other government agencies, the state promised to pay them at the end of their service, but said this promise was unreliable because their predecessors were promised the same thing and got nothing after they finished the national assignment.
It was, however, gathered that some corps members serving at the local government secretariat were being paid between N3,000 and N5,000, but they were currently being owed three months allowances just as the government owes the civil servants.
One of the corps members, who simply identified himself as Mayowa, told one of our correspondents that the last time he and his colleagues were paid was October 2015.
He said, “We have not been paid a dime since November last year. What we were told at the beginning was that the government would pay us after the end of our service year, but we later learnt that the promise was just fake.”
Corps members serving in Bauchi State have organised extra-mural classes for primary and secondary school pupils following non-payment of their allowances by the state government.
A corps member, who did not want her name in print, told one of our correspondents that the last time the state government paid them was December last year.
She said, “No explanation has been given as to why we have not been paid our allowances. We have not been paid for January. We don’t know what is happening; all the state government just told us is that we should bear with it.”
Asked how she and her colleagues had been coping, she said, “Some of us organise extra-mural lessons for primary and secondary school pupils.”
Another corps member, who simply gave her name as Joy, said she had been finding it very difficult to survive as a result of the failure of the authorities to pay them their January allowance.
“We have not been finding things easy here. Our January allowance has not been paid,” Joy said. Corps members in Delta State are owed two months’ allowances. Some of them who spoke to one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity appealed to the state government to pay the allowances.
But the state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, said the state had been meeting the needs of the corps members despite the current financial stress in the state.
“We have been doing our best to pay as of when due in spite of the current financial hiccup,” he said.
Investigation, however, revealed that corps members serving across the state have resorted to doing menial jobs to meet their financial needs.
One of them, Peter Ugoh, said, “We have to engage in doing menial jobs to keep body and soul together. At least, it is better than stealing or not doing anything at all.” NYSC officials in the state declined comments.
Those serving in Ekiti State said they had not received anything since they were deployed in the state last year.
A corps member posted to one of the ministries who does not want his name mentioned, said, “Since I was deployed in this ministry last year, I have not received anything. My predecessors said they were being paid N1,250 before it was increased to N3,000, but since our batch came, we have not received anything from the state government.”
Another corps member serving at a primary health care centre, who also declined to mention her name, shared a similar experience.
She said she had not received any allowance from the state government since she was deployed in the state.
But, another female corps member said, “My predecessors were not paid while serving, they were only paid N15,000 after their service as parting gift.”
Batch “A” and batch “B” corps members deployed in Osun State also said they had not received a dime from the state government since May and October, 2015 respectively.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the situation is a bit different in Abia State where the state government only paid some corps members deployed there N5,000 and neglected the rest.
A batch ‘A’ corps member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for the fear of being reprimanded, said since June 2015 when she was posted to a local government, she had yet to receive any allowance.
She added that only those posted to public schools were paid skeletal allowances by the government.
Another corps member, who wants to be identified as Okoli, urged the state government to pay them, considering the economic situation in the country.
“It will go a long way in augmenting the N19,800 allowance being paid by the Federal Government,” Okoli said.
Corps members in Niger, Rivers, Cross River, Edo and Sokoto states also complained that they had yet to be paid by the state government.
A corps member in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, told one of our correspondents that those serving with the state government had not been paid for six months.