Who Wants The NYSC Dead?

by Sanjo
who want The NYSC Dead

The National Youth Service Corps was conceptualized as a veritable vehicle to galvanize national unity and integration, speeding up the healing process of a country just emerging from the pains of a bloody civil war which left in its wake great devastations in both human and material terms, on both sides of the conflict.

The birthing of the Scheme in 1973 was a follow – up to the three Rs of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation pronounced by the Gen Yakubu Gowon administration at the end of the Biafra/Nigeria civil war in 1970.

The first set of Corps members who commenced service in July 1973 were graduates of the then existing Nigerian universities of the 1972/73 academic session who did so amid protests by the would – be Corps members, their parents and guardians. The students thought it’s not worth it, “wasting” a whole year to the so – called  service to the nation, when companies were on queue to employ them, with guaranteed car loan and good life.

On the part of their parents and guardians, they felt that letting their sons and daughters travel to far – flung states constituted a heavy security risk, given that the wounds inflicted by the civil war were still fresh.

Notwithstanding the protests, the then Federal Military Government was resolute in going ahead with the establishment of the Scheme, having given due consideration to the perceived gains derivable from the Corps.

Therefore, 2364 graduates of the universities  constituted the pioneer members of the Scheme, deployed to the then 12  states of Nigeria.

Interestingly, the Corps, having weathered so many existential storms has grown exponentially over the past 47 years,  mobilising currently for service over 300,000 Nigerian youths, hence making it the biggest youth – mobilisation agency in the globe.

The question begging for answer is: After 47 years, who wants the Scheme dead, albeit instalmentally?

The traditional and new media were awash with the report of the Osibanjo – led Economic Sustainability Committee, recommending the suspension of the NYSC Orientation programme for two years. The Committee further proposed the deployment of Prospective Corps members from their higher institutions of graduation, straight to states of service.

The position of the Committee, doubtlessly fraught with so many flaws is manifestly antithetical to the philosophy behind the establishment of the Scheme as the Orientation camp introduces the Corps members to the service Scheme.

In fact, as an ex – Corps Member from the South West, a stakeholder of the Scheme that faithfully served in Niger State which broadened my horizon, I can aptly say that the Orientation camp is the launching pad for the one year national service. It affords Corps members a better understanding of the objectives of the Scheme; acquaints them with their environment in their political, cultural, social and economic setting, while preparing them for their particular roles in the Scheme.

The Orientation camp is a regimented environment which inculcates the spirit of discipline among the Corps members — a primary ingredient needed for national rebirth, by subjecting them to military drills; and educating them on nationalistic issues.

Above all, the Orientation camp lays the foundation for the much envisaged national unity and integration through the interaction of Corps members from diverse ethnic groups,  social strata and religious backgrounds .

Lasting friendships cutting across tribe and religion have been built over the years; in addition to inter tribal marriages that arose as a result of exposure to the Orientation camp. Who then wants the NYSC dead?

Sadly, over the years, the NYSC Scheme has remained a hapless head that receives undeserved  ruthless knocks from every Tom, Dick and Harry. Most of the challenges besetting the Scheme are extraneous to it.

Truly speaking, I don’t envy the managers of the Scheme, especially the PR managers who usually have a lot of explanations to offer when NYSC suffers vicariously for other agencies’ failings.

For instance, if a Corps member comes on harm’s way, even in his father’s house, as long as he’s a Corps member, the Scheme must take responsibility for his fate.

The NYSC is blamed for every wrong thing in Nigeria, from unemployment to insecurity. Some people would often ask derisively : After NYSC, what next? The rhetorical question is borne out of the spiraling unemployment situation in the country which of course is not the making of the Scheme, as Corps members can never be insulated from the vagaries of the economy.

It’s heartwarming to note that the Scheme answered the rhetorical question with the introduction of the NYSC skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development programme, which has in-camp and post-camp components.

While in the camp, Corps members are exposed to skill training in chosen skill sets and they continue with the training after the Orientation course.

From diligent investigation, a number of ex – Corps members have been able to set up thriving businesses, arising from the NYSC skill acquisition programme. READ: NYSC Orientation Camps To Be Used As Isolation Centres.

I have a female cousin who studied Architecture, but today earns a living from the business of hat, bag and shoe – manufacturing, employing and mentoring four employees.

Therefore, cutting off the Orientation programme which I hold as a veiled attempt to reach the jugular of the Scheme, will be akin to dealing an unkind cut to the youths.

NYSC unarguably remains the major youth programme in the country, and no amount of resources expended on youth – development is a waste. The youths are the future of this country, and the future of this country should not be toyed with.

I hastily posit that I consider giving focus to the youths as one of the greatest achievements of the Scheme. The Orientation camp is like a crucible that changes the perception of an average Corps member about life.

Is it not amazing that many cultists who drop the toga of cultism before entering the camp since the NYSC has zero tolerance for cultism leave the camp after three weeks with a refocused mindset, abandoning the figurative toga left at the entrance of the gate.

It’s still very doubtful that anyone who served the nation diligently as a Corps member would support tinkering with the soul of the NYSC — the Orientation camp, unless for political expediency, as pundits have begun to give political coloration to the recommendation of the Osinbajo — led Economic Sustainability Committee.

Many have alleged that the Scheme has become an albatross for so many politicians that evaded service, therefore they must conspiratorially snuff life out of the Scheme insidiously. READ NYSC Terms and Meaning

Who wants the NYSC dead? The Scheme is a microcosmic Nigeria. Killing the Scheme in any guise is akin to piercing the heart of the nation with a hot knife, which after all  may give the day to the promoters of  separatist movements and tribal jingoists.

Nigerians are watching the President to know his reaction. Will he acquiesce to the recommendation of the Committee which on the face value appears innocuous, but in reality a representation of a gold chalice, laden with poisonous venom?

– Akinola, a public affairs analyst

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