*Emerges the best corps member in Ondo
*He restored hope to our community - community members
*His heroic deeds won the hearts of the State Gov, wife - NYSC State Cord
An ex-corps member, Okam Johnson while sharing his success story with SUNSHINE VOICE, described his one year National Youth Sercice Corps (NYSC) in Ondo as a blessing.
The ex-corps member with the state code OD/17A/2472 narrated how he executed 11 projects during his service year at Odigbo Local Government Area of the state, bagging the State Honours Award for the year 2018.
"When I came here (Odigbo LGA, Ore) in 2017, I served in Nasfat Model College located somewhere few kilometres from here, and I was the classroom teacher taking Geography and Physical Health Education respectively.
When I came to the community, I moved around within space of time and noticed the community is facing setbacks in terms of infrastructural development.
"They're lacking electricity, road network, water and bridge. I saw them using wooden planks to cross. I felt so shocked a day when I see a little girl trying to cross that wooden bridge where there was heavy flood of which I came to her rescue when she was about to be carried away by the flood. So, form that day, something told me, 'Okam, you need to do something here within the one year of your service'," he said.
He continued; "Since then, I begin to think on what to do to put smile on the faces of the people in the community. That was how the thought of the construction of bridge came. I met the community. We put ourselves together to come up with a work plan. This is a community of over 5,000 people. We had meetings and concluded that, we're going to pool resources together to make this dream come true.
"I started getting support from philanthropists within the state in the likes of the first lady, Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyawu Akeredolu, Hon Herbert Akintoye, Former House of Rep member (SOT), NYSC state coordinator, Mrs Grace Akpabio, among others. After meeting the wife of His Excellency (Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyawu Akeredolu), who is a wonderful woman that doesn't discriminate.
"She saw where I was driving to and supported fully well. Courtesy of that, I started getting supports I didn't even expect from philanthropists within the state. That's how I was able to achieve 11 projects in Ondo state, Odigbo LGA (Local Government Area) precisely.
"The bridge construction was my main project. I also rehabilitated a bus stop in Odigbo LGA. There I met the Chairman and some other key personnel who supported me.
"In my zone, I organised seminars for students and took them for essay competition. I also gave scholarship award to best performing students (in junior and secondary categories). Constructed a concrete sign post for the school I served. Also, I constructed a metal signpost for NYSC local government secretariat in Odigbo.
"While we were constructing the bridge here, there was an alternative route I teamed up with the community to do a wooden cross-over bridge for people to ply through.
"In the school I served, I reconstructed the well water that was there because is a Muslim establishment and they always need water for ablution. I also did customised exercise notebooks that were distributed to the students.
"So, these are the ones I could recall. I was so passionate to achieve all these projects because they were like a burden in my heart. Nigeria is our country, Nigeria we serve."
The Cross River-born ex-corps member while commending on the importance of NYSC noted the scheme has really been improving national development in recent times.
"It's only somebody who don't think well will call NYSC programme a waste but as for me, it has really been a blessing. NYSC is the best time for any young person to utilise very well and achieve greatness. I started out of nothing. I was receiving N19,800, and I never used a penny from the money to execute these projects. The money I got was the support from the people of Ondo state.
"After commissioning the projects, I was shocked on the day of my passing out parade where I was declared the best corps member of the year in the state by His Excellency, Gov Akeredolu Oluwarotimi. Immediately, I heard they gave me automatic job employment, and ever since then I was employed into the office I currently work for. To the glory of God, I am now like a son to His Excellency and wife, who have been taking good care of me in the state."
Speaking further on the role of NYSC in deepening national integration, Johnson said; "Concerning national integration, Executive Governor of Ondo state and wife never knew me from anywhere but supported me massively to make the project a reality. Since I was born, have never seen people who don't know anything about sentiment or tribalism, but they proved me wrong. They accepted me wholeheartedly. Today, Ondo state is like a home to me due to way I was accepted."
On his cordial relationship with the students and staff of the school he served, the Geography and Urban Planning graduate said the latter were like family to him.
"I served in a Muslim school as a Christian. Everybody in that school was a Muslim. But as a Christian, I was able to flow with them very well. Most times, we eat together in the same bowl and there was no any discrimination among us. While leaving, it's difficult for me to do so because they're more like a family to me. I just hope we meet again if God permits it."
The NYSC State Coordinator, Mrs Grace Akpabio while commending the State Governor (His Excellency, Arankunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu) and wife (Mrs. Betty Anyawu Akeredolu) for facilitating the corps member's employment said; "I want to seize this opportunity to thank Mr. Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu for facilitating his (Okam Johnson) by the Ondo state government.
"This attests to how detribalised the Governor is, offering a job to a Cross Riverian on merit. I pray that other Governors will emulate him."
Some residents who spoke to SUNSHINE VOICE described the corps member as an agent of change in the growth and development of the community.
The community chairman, Omotosho Williams Ayodele commented on the state of development in the community, urging NYSC to continue with its good works.
"Actually, I can say a lot about the project. The community has on the project and it has been a difficult thing for us. During the rainy season, is very difficult for us to ply through the road. But through the intervention of this corps member Okam Johnson), the bridge was built and commissioned of which restore hope to the community.
"NYSC has really touched every nook and cranny of our communities and the development of the nation at large. So, I would always want the scheme to continue with the good works."
A student of Nasfat Model College, Boluwatife Adejumo also applauded the corps member for job well done, praying he finds favour everywhere he goes.
Another resident who identified himself as Alh. Oyewumi Adebanjo summarised how the corps member touched the heart of the community through his laudable projects.
"Mr. Okam Johnson was posted here sometime in 2017 for his NYSC. He wrote to the Community leaders about his proposed projects and we all rally round to see how he would achieve the project. He did the projects because he has humanity at heart. Indeed, he touched the heart of the community via these laudable projects," he said.