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NYSC scheme and the challenge of nation building

02 September 2014, 10:51 Hussain Obaro

The National Youth Service Corp Scheme as established by Decree No. 24 of 1973 later repeated and placed by Decree 51 of June, 1993 was promulgated to meet the following major objectives: To inculcate discipline in Nigerian Youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry at work, and of patriotic and loyal service to Nigeria in any situation they may find themselves.

To raise the moral tone of the Nigerian Youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievement, social and cultural improvement. To develop common ties among the Nigerian Youths and promote national unity and integration. To remove prejudices, eliminate ignorance and confirm at first hand the many similarities among Nigerians of all ethnic groups. To develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Nigeria. To develop in the Nigeria youths the attitudes of mind, acquired through shared experience and suitable training, which will make them more amenable to mobilization in the national interest. To enable Nigerian youths acquire the spirit of self reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self employment. To contribute to the accelerated growth of the National economy.   

Whereas the first five(5) of the objectives as listed above have been realized to some extent,  the same can not be said of the last three(3). If the vision 202020 of government is to become a reality through the transformation agenda then special attention has to be made to the NYSC Scheme, the Nigerian youths after passing through the NYSC Scheme should not only be jobs seekers, the NYSC as we all know it now, has been a programme that has always boosted the Curriculum Vitae of our graduates and prepared them for employments which is note even available.

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The NYSC scheme has failed to meet up the dreams of the founding fathers in terms of National transformation and economic prosperity, though successes have been made in the aspects of national integration and cohesion. The NYSC scheme should live up to its responsibility of making Nigerian graduates self reliant and job providers rather than job seekers. The alarming rise in unemployment rate in Nigeria is a pointer to the fact that the NYSC Scheme which is supposed to bridge this gap has failed to do so.

A lot have been said and written about the NYSC Scheme following the death of nine(9) Corp members during the 2011 general election, during which Corp members were slaughtered like goats in Bauchi State. Some have called for the scraping of this all important Scheme while other had carefully proffered various solutions. Recently the NYSC itself have announced the need to make corp members combat ready by integrating Martial Art training into the schemes.

Although the equivalent of the NYSC Scheme in the United States of American(USA) is a compulsory service in the U.S Military, where all physically and medically fit graduates are made to serve their country in the military and at the end of the programme some of them who wish to remain in the military are allowed to do so and make a career in the military. We all know that the objectives of the Nigerian NYSC Scheme is totally different to that of the U.S.A. therefore the introduction of martial art training into the NYSC scheme is not only myopic but also baseless and unnecessary, the Nigerian youths are not being prepared for war and the objectives of the NYSC has not stated so. Hence, the need to be careful and think twice so that this would not turn out to be counterproductive like what happened in Tunisia, Egypt and some other middle east and Arab which have found it difficult to control the uprisings in their countries, just because most of their youths have acquired some measures of military skills.

Also Read: Rivers youth corps urged to report security threats

There are numerous ways by which the NYSC can put a permanent end to unnecessary, killing of Corp members under any guise. Corpers should not be trained and seen as fighters, as this will only amount to treating the symptoms of a disease thereby leaving the disease untreated, as the symptoms will always re-occur.

The proposed NYSC reform should critically look into the issue of posting of Corp members. The primary assignment for Corp members should always reflect National integration, Unity, cohesion, reconciliation and economic prosperity. What is the point sending out corps members to places where their services are not needed, what sins have our dear corps members committed that they have to be subjected to so much torture, brutality and hardship in the name of National service. Yearly, close to sixty percent(60%) of corps members are been rejected by establishments and firms to which they are being posted, they are often treated as outcasts and second class citizens. Some have been victims of rape and abuses of various kinds all in the name of National service.

Like the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and others, state ministries rejected most of the corps members  posted to them and schools, both primary and post primary schools, rejected. Some Corp members posted to them reasons been that they have enough staff.Corp members were posted to Churches, Mosques, restaurants, eateries, hair dressing salons, bars, hotels and guest houses and even private laundry shops. Obviously these are the only places where Corp members are sure that they would not be rejected.

After been rejected, Corp members are left to roam the streets in search of a place for primary assignment. Some of them have to beg their ways through. Some female corpers have to use their bodies while others even has to bribe their way in. This is not national service, but subjecting our fresh graduates to national humiliation and torture.

The best way to use the NYSC Scheme effectively for National integration, cohesion, transformation and economic prosperity, and permanently put a stop to the killings and abuse of Corp members are as follows: The NYSC Scheme’s duration should be reviewed and reduced from the current compulsory one(1) year to a compulsory four(4) months. Corp members should be camped at the various expanded and equipped NYSC Camps throughout the period of the scheme except for few of them who would be needed for crucial national assignments like elections who should be trained in their camps for these purpose and allowed out for the period of these National assignments.

Also Read: 281 fake NYSC members decamped in Niger

The National directorate of employment should be part of this four(4) months Scheme in order to give the Corp members an elaborate entrepreneurial training and encourage them to develop skills for self employment. Corp members, regardless of their courses of study should be mandated to belong and learn at least a vocation of their choice.

Vocations like mechanized shoe making, modern fashion designing, modern poultry farming, mechanized agriculture and animal husbandry, ICT training, e.t.c. should be integrated into the scheme while elaborate and simplified training should be given. At the end of these compulsory four(4) months training, interest free loans of between Five hundred thousand naira (N500,000.00) and One million naira (N1,000,000.00) should be made available to the corp members depending on the entrepreneurial vocations they wish to venture into.

Although these loans which should be repaid within a duration of one(1) to two(2) years should not be given in cash but should be given in terms of supplies of the machineries and equipments or tools needed for them to start or take off their trades.

During the duration of this compulsory four(4) months schemes, regular weekly outreach programmes should be organized to enable the Corp members to interact and mingle with their host community as this will enable them to learn more about them.

Apart from the interest free loan that each Corp members is entitled to in exchange of their NYSC discharger certificates, each Corp members should also be unconditionally entitled to the sum of one hundred(100) thousand naira camp allowance at end of the NYSC Scheme.

Also Read: Al-Makura donates N5m to corps members

If these ideology is integrated into the NYSC scheme, our youths will not only be self reliant and job providers but they will also go a long way to affect the economy of our great country in no small measure. It is a known fact everywhere in the world that small and medium scale enterprises/ Industries (SMEs / SMIs) are the backbone of every booming economies, they are the largest employer of labour and they are the “Driver”  of large economies in the world.

If the Nigerian youths are given these all important role and opportunity through the NYSC scheme for them to channel their energy and resources in “driving” the economy of this great country into prosperity, then the vision 202020 as well as the transformation agenda are not only releasable but there will be drastic reduction in crime, prostitution, civil disturbances and terrorism of any sort.

It is not right for our Corp members to begin to beg, bribe or be subjected to harsh condition before they can serve their father land. Isn’t it obvious that Corp members are no longer need “Out there”?

Stop sending our precious graduates to places where their services are not need and make best use of these vibrant, energetic, brilliant and youthful sets of Nigerians to achieve economic development and National prosperity, and the transformation agenda so that come year 2020 Nigeria can take its rightful place among the (20) twenty most developed economies in the world.                          

God bless Nigeria.

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