By Job Osazuwa
As Nigeria appears more divided along ethnic and religious lines, the National Youth Corps Service (NYSC) has said that there was no relenting in its journey to continue to unite the country for prosperity and progress.
The mission to uphold the corporate existence of Nigeria was renewed during the scheme’s Unity March, which was recently held across the country to mark its 48 years of existence.
The NYSC, Lagos State, coordinator, Eddy Megwa, who said that corps members were even more excited about the achievements of the scheme, reaffirmed that the unity of Nigeria was non-negotiable.
“They have come out today to show their commitment to core national service. These are the youths that we are looking forward to taking leadership positions. So, we are very conscious of what we plant in their minds, especially when it comes to the unity of Nigeria,” he said.
When asked to react to calls from some quarters to scrap NYSC, Megwa said that such suggestions were worrisome and unpatriotic: “This scheme has helped the youths and the country in so many ways. Look at education, for instance. If you pull out corps members from the education industry, most of the institutions, especially primary and secondary schools, will collapse.
“The health care sector is not exempted from dependence on corps members. In Lagos alone, I have over 400 doctors deployed to rural health centres. Nobody should think of scrapping the scheme.
“Insecurity in the country is not enough for anyone to say that NYSC should go into extinction. You can’t say because students were kidnapped in some schools, then all schools should be closed down. What we are going through in Nigeria, NYSC is simply sharing its own part. But we are doing everything possible to mitigate any untoward occurrences for our corps members.”
At the event, a corps member, Juliet Ogbe Nwagbogwu, from Delta State, said that her experience at NYSC has so far been an amazing one, particularly as it offered her opportunity to network with people from other parts of the country.
“The scheme has been able to bring about unity in diversity. There have been a lot of skirmishes here and there, but a programme like this has been able resolve most of the religious and cultural differences. This is my first time to be in Lagos and I have met with many great people from other tribes.
“I just want to remind Nigerians that we are one. We need one another to achieve more as a country. Being in the camp has taught me patience, humility and patriotism,” she said.
Also, Winston Best-Ezeani, who said that he schooled in Ghana, acknowledged that NYSC has helped him to learn what it takes to be a true Nigerian and the importance of unity.
“I joined the Red Cross Society of Nigeria (RCSN), and I have been taught the importance of helping others who are in critical and urgent need.
“I didn’t grow in a Nigeria that was divided. Therefore, we shouldn’t have. Every region of the country is blessed with one comparative advantage or the other. We should focus on our strengths to support the weaknesses of other regions.”
Another corps member, a medical professional, Eresieke Urewanne, stated that the scheme has done so much for the youths as well as keeping Nigeria together as one entity.
Her colleague, also a health care professional, George Uchendu, said that the event was a celebration of an emblem of national development.
He said: “It is a celebration of a legacy. It is 48 years building a nation and saving lives. There have various interventions by NYSC that have ensured that Nigerians are better cartered to.
“From my experience, we were deployed to inner communities to render health care services to the people who wouldn’t have had access to medical personnel. The scheme also provides different medical outreaches, where many people have benefited. Mortality rate has dropped in these rural areas as a result of our intervention.”
Speaking on his fears while travelling to Lagos for the mandatory one-year service, he said, “I came from Anambra State. The security architecture of the country worried me. But, so far, there has not been anything to worry about.”