By Gabriel Ewepu
In this interview with Founder, One Love Foundation and also a social crusader, Patriot Patrick Eholor, issues negatively affecting young Nigerians are being x-rayed, as he speaks on bad leadership being responsible for Nigeria losing the virtue of voluntary service, and proffered solutions on how it can be revived for nation-building.
What is your definition of voluntary service?
Voluntary service is described as an unpaid activity where someone gives their time to help a not-for-profit organisation or an individual to who they are not related to. Unpaid volunteers are often the glue that holds a community together.
Voluntary service allows you to connect to your community and make it a better place without being paid. A town union leader is serving the community volunteering without being paid for his/her service.
During your youthful days were young people carrying voluntary services toward nation-building?
Yes, people volunteered because of the zeal for patriotism. During our days as a youth, people were more patriotic because they saw Nigeria as their own project hence, the zeal for patriotism and nation-building. People were ready to sacrifice anything for the development of their community, region, and even the nation at large.
You could see people gathering together to clean the gutters, cut grasses in schools, hospitals, markets, and other government offices as service to their community and nation. I remember how we even contributed our own food and went to National Youth Corps’ lodge to donate to them, clean their lodge and make them comfortable voluntarily.
What do you think are factors responsible for Nigerians, particularly young people not partaking in voluntary services?
Unemployment, frustration, and corruption are promoted by the ruling class. Nigerians are very patriotic people. They love their nation, but the problem we have is leadership. Our leaders are the ones promoting every problem the youths are passing through.
A nation where there is no job for the youths; no electricity, healthcare, and infrastructural development is zero and others. Do you expect the youths to be happy? Make our youths happy by making life comfortable for them and you would be surprised at how loving and patriotic our youths are.
Therefore, the issue of young people not rendering voluntary services anymore is a result of bad leadership over the years and the inability of those in power to make life meaningful for them.
Do you see areas that voluntary services are needed now?
Voluntary Service is needed in our local communities but not to those in government until they are able to think about the youths and understand that their own life and future equally matters. Not just about their family members or children, but every youth matters in this country.
What should be done to revive voluntary service in Nigeria?
To revive the zealous act of patriotism is a collective effort starting with our family, religious houses, and those in authority. The orientation should start from home, then churches and mosques; and finally the government through their orientation agencies.
But you must understand that a hungry man or someone without hope of getting money cannot be happy. He is an angry man! So, job creation is very vital to nation-building and service delivery.
As a Foundation, what areas are you engaging young people in voluntary service?
One Love Foundation is creating a very educative awareness among young Nigerians. We have never paid anyone before to do a protest as a foundation. We haven’t done so before.
When some people brought the idea of paying youths to protest, I simply told them to go back to all our chapters with a simple orientation that we are not paying people to protest and get what’s their right. So, every of our movement and all of that is done voluntarily.