By Agba Jalingo
Messrs Okam Johnson and Simon Okwori may not have been the most popular students in their days in the University, but their exploits in Ondo as youth corpers may have etched their names in gold in that state.
The duo, both products of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning in the Cross River University of Technology emerged first and third best youth corpers in the 2017 Batch A with one Miss Joy Uche from Enugu state coming in between.
In a chat with CrossRiverWatch, Okam said he embarked on 11 community development service (CDS) while Okwori embarked on six (6).
Okam who was filled with joy while reminiscing on his service days, told CrossRiverWatch that: “I resumed camp on July 26th, 2017 and ended service on July 5th, 2018. I served in NASFAT model Group of Schools, Ore, Odigbo Local government area of Ondo State.”
Now, the CDS is one of four cardinal programs of the National Youth Service Corps which sees corps members contribute positively to the development of their host communities throughout the period of national service, and Okam explained that while at the orientation camp at Ikare Akoko, he had mapped out his service year in his head.
He said that: “I had it in mind to think of what I can do to better my country, not what my country can do for me only. Immediately, I was inspired to embark and solve any major problem faced by the community I would be posted to after Camp.
“As God may have it, I was posted to a secondary school in an environment where they was total absence of basic amenities such as accessibility, potable water, electricity among others.
“Thank God a close friend of mine (Mr. Okwori) embarked on some personal CDS projects in same state and same 2017 Batch A. Though he was a stream 1 corps member while I was a stream 2 corps member. I got more clue from him which motivated me too.”
Also, Okam said with the help of his host community, philanthropists and the wife of the governor of Ondo state, Mrs. Betty Akeredolu he was able to accomplish the following;
1. Construction of concrete bridge in NASFAT village Ore, Odigbo local government area.
2. Rehabilitation of Odigbo local government secretariat bus stop.
3. Construction of NASFAT model group of schools signpost in Ore.
4. Reconstruction of a well in NASFAT model group of schools, Ore.
5. Construction of NYSC secretariat signpost in Odigbo local government secretariat.
6. Award of school fees and uniform set to best performing students in the junior and senior secondary section of NASFAT model group of schools Ore.
7. The organisation of a football competition among 5 schools in Ore town, Odigbo local government area.
8. Organisation of a two-day sensitization seminar for 5 schools in Ore town.
9. Donation of customised notebooks to students of NASFAT model group of schools, Ore.
10. Organisation of essay writing competition for students of NASFAT model group of schools, Ore.
11. Construction of wooden cross over bridge in NASFAT Village, now called “new town Ore,” in Odigbo local government area.
The concrete bridge was commissioned by Mrs. Akeredolu early in June 2018. At the commissioning, she commended Mr. Okam and charged youths to stop taking a passive stance in the development of their society irrespective of where they find themselves.
Describing the natives of Ore as lucky, Mrs. Akeredolu said that: “This impressive act by a visitor in your land should give you the push to critically diagnose your community to identify areas of need and initiate action to address such.”
She continued: “I must congratulate the people of NASFAT village for being blessed with an innovative and forward thinking corps member like Okam Johnson, who initiated the construction of a standard pedestrian concrete bridge as his personal community development project.
“It is interesting what corps members are doing in our communities. Just this week, i commissioned a borehole and toilet facility whose construction was initiated by another outstanding corps member in the lone secondary school of Ilu-Abo.
“Seeing young folks take up such initiatives gives me the assurance that all hope is not lost for our beloved country. Its obvious that the young have become restless: they are identifying problems and taking bold steps in addressing them.”
Mr. Okam was later invited to the Government House Akure on two occasions. He shared his experience on Facebook and tagged it; “10 Hours In Government House Akure.”
For Mr. Okwori, who began his service year on May 12, 2017 and ended on April 12, 2018, the orientation given to him at the camp as well as the sense of fulfilment that he has contributed to the betterment of the society was the core motivation.
He told this reporter that: “We were told from the orientation camp to leave the place of our primary assignment (PPA) better than we met it.
“I had the burning desire to leave a huge legacy behind, I wanted to impact and touch the lives of people so that I will be remembered after my service year.
“I have that natural instinct of doing good any where I found myself as evident in my legacy during my student days in CRUTECH.
“The sense of fulfilment is what actually motivated me and I am really happy today that I have contributed my little quota to humanity.”
The six CDS he embarked on include:
1. Sensitization on personal hygiene among female students and distribution of sanitary pads across twenty secondary schools in Akure south local government area.
2. The design and execution of a befitting bus stop at federal housing estate in Shagari area.
3. Design and execution of road signs project in strategic locations within the federal housing estate.
4. The establishment of a house of parliament in some selected secondary schools which was inaugurated by the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly, Honorable Oleyelogun Bamidele.
5. The organisation of a free lessons class for secondary schools students in preparation for their West African Examination council.
6. Organisation of campaign in collaboration with a nongovernmental organisation against high price of sanitary pads with a tag; #Operationsubsidize sanitary pads for our ladies.
The duo were presented with their certificate of honors by the Secretary to the Ondo State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde during their passing out parade.
And, with another set of youth corps members expected in their orientation camps across the country tomorrow, the duo advised them to be focused.
“My advice to intending and serving corps members is to always take up initiatives that will improve the wellbeing of the society any where you find yourself, never see yourself too small to impact positively to the society and make the country a better place, love your country with all your heart and strength,” Okam said.
He added that: “Always take a bold step in whatever good you find your hands doing and the sky will be your limit.”
For Mr. Okwori, his advise is that, “All the serving corps members is that, they should strive to do their best in any where they found themselves. Impact on lives, touch lives and integrate yourselves to the host community of service; it pays a lot, I am a living testimony, let people feel your impact.”
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