We are indeed beginning to witness a turnaround in the management of the NYSC that has become the significant unifying national institution.
Nations around the globe that want to become advanced in the twenty first century and beyond, usually place the highest premium on the capacity development of their young populations. This is obviously for the reason that such political entities do not wish that their national heritage go extinct.
Another obvious explanation for devoting substantial chunk of the national wealth of the forward looking nations towards the development of the young population is because of the statistical status of the younger members of these respective sovereign entities.
Nigeria is no exception. First, Nigeria is made up of over fifty percent of the younger populations even as it is beyond debate that the youth of Nigeria have attained phenomenal heights in the diverse fields of human endeavours. Perhaps, the only sector in which the youth is yet to dominate is the field of politics.
The above statical facts then bring us to the topic of analysis in this piece which is basically a forensic analysis of the legacies that the current president Muhammadu Buhari has pragmatically made towards the sustenance of one of the few remaining institutions created over many years – the National Youth Service Corp Scheme (NYSC). This uniquely impactful scheme has gone through the good, bad and ugly times but perhaps the present period could be adjudged as one of the best in terms of prioritization of the funding mechanisms provided for it by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. This may not necessarily be called the golden age of National Youth Service Scheme(NYSC), nevertheless the sustainable investments made so far by the current administration towards keeping the NYSC’s legacies alive can as well be termed as a glorious era. We are indeed beginning to witness a turnaround in the management of the NYSC that has become the significant unifying national institution.
Prior to 2015, there were already calls from a lot of quarters for the abrogation of the NYSC scheme but the coming to power of the current president brought stability and respectability to the scheme. A possible reason could be that the man at the helms of affairs in Nigeria is a man that has seen it all going by his antecedents.
Little wonder that he took his time to pick a serving military General who has fortunately kept to the goals, aspirations, visions and objectives that president Buhari has also hoped that the National Youth Service Scheme plays.
There is no doubt that Brigadier General Suleiman Kazaure has brought style, panache and professional commitments towards piloting affairs at the NYSC.
From the background of a constructive critic and a human rights activist who speaks truth to power, there is no doubt in my mind that humanly speaking, the choice of General Kazaure to head the NYSC is amongst the most distinguished choices made by the president of Nigeria who should be proud of the salient achievements his appointee has made but aided by a great management team. As it is stated, better soup na money cook am… it is also true that when a Director General is succeeding, it depicts the caliber and qualitative attributes of his lieutenants. More than at any other times, the NYSC has received accolades from mainstream leaders of the society and the young population of contemporary Nigeria. One of the most revered traditional rulers in modern day is the Ooni of Ife. He recently applauded the leadership style of the current management. He spoke with a team of editors from a reputable institutional magazine.
The Ooni of Ile-Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi in responding to a question requesting him to assess the NYSC as it is now said “You (NYSC) are fully on the right path and I am a living example. I am from Osun State and was posted to Benue for my youth service. My mother of blessed memory took me to the Car Park at 6 o’clock in the morning. I was inside the vehicle for 16 hours before we got to Benue. It was a very refreshing experience for me. If there was no youth service I may not have gone to Benue state. So, it is a programme that needs to be funded the more and government should patronize it.”
The high profile traditional ruler who was amongst the few custodians of the diverse Nigerian traditions that were nominated by the Nigerian government to receive Prince Charles of England during a recent State visit to Nigeria by the British Monarch also affirmed as follows about the NYSC: “It is one of the programmes cementing our relationship in Nigeria. Some participants fall in love during the programme. I recall sitting with General Gowon who established the Scheme – he was very passionate about NYSC as one of his achievements – and some of the first set of Corps Members. One of them said to General Gowon, ‘Sir it was the programme you started after the Civil War that made me what I am today. Because my parents did not want me to go, you were the one that provided a government plane to carry all of us. I started my life there in Kaduna, I lived there and I became one of the most successful men in Kaduna today’. And he is from South-West, so I want to continue to wish you well and to wish you the very best and a happy anniversary.”
Queen Onwughalu is an Abuja – based blogger and a young lady entrepreneur who only recently served in the office of the Minister of Women Affairs Abuja for her one year compulsory national youth service. She told me that her stay as a Corper was a wonderful experience. She said that the Director General showed tremendous love and passion about the welfare and wellbeing of the participants of the NYSC.
Similarly, Obilor Cliff Grace who would be doing NYSC soon wrote as follows:
“NYSC which is known as National Youth Service Corps was founded in Nigeria in the year 1973 for graduates of universities and graduates of polytechnics later joined. NYSC scheme is set up by the Nigerian Government to involve Nigerian graduates in building and developing the country. Before the government start posting them to different states, they undergo a kind of orientation which is basically controlled by the military, this orientation lasts for just three weeks, at the end of three weeks, they are being posted to their PLACES OF PRIMARY ASSIGNMENT which is popularly known as “PPA” During this service these young graduates are being posted to different parts of the country, so that they can mix up with other people, learn new cultures and also use their knowledge to develop the places which they have been posted to and every month end these Corp members receive a token from the Federal Government of Nigeria.
I am looking up to service in the NYSC for so many wonderful reasons, although most of these young people have lost their lives as a result of Religious, Ethnic and Political problems, but NYSC has a lot of benefits which can make a young person look up to service. Service in NYSC helps to build the moral life of a young person and also teach on how to be independent and self-reliance. Am looking forward to this service so as to acquire new skills and also share the ones I know, serving in the NYSC promotes unity of the nation, it gives us a sense of belonging, it encourages youths when they see the performance of other young people, service will go a long way in helping us contribute to the ongoing growth and development of the national economy and whenever these young people are assigned to any state, they are not just there for themselves rather they are representing our country Nigeria, during these service year. These young people tend to see different kinds of religion, so they are expected to tolerate any kind of religion. I look up greatly to this service because currently in our society if that certificate is not acquired, a graduate finds it very difficult to acquire a reasonable job and also considered ineligible to work in government firms and most private firms.
In conclusion, I look up to this service because judging from the recent events about NYSC CERTIFICATE SAGA in our top government offices, without the NYSC certificate most positions as regards to politics in our country will be very difficult for an individual to attain, because for you to start talking about some positions in Nigeria as regards to politics you must make sure that you have an NYSC certificate or an exemption letter from the NYSC office.
Exemptions are considered when the Graduate is above 30 years of age. In as much as am hoping and aspiring to be in a good position in our Country, I strongly look up to service in NYSC so as to acquire the certificate for future purposes.”
Miss Obilor’s statement brings us to how significant NYSC has become in the current dispensation to an extent that the scheme has continued to churn out qualitatively trained youth in their high numbers compared to what used to be obtainable prior to the coming of the current administration.
Under his watch, General Kazaure, through deepening of the existing partnerships between the Scheme and the private sector, expedited the building of integrated skills acquisition centres in the six geopolitical zones of the country to facilitate post-camp skills training.
This writer learnt authoritatively that two of them in Ekiti and Gombe states have been completed, while that of Delta State is ongoing. He went ahead to stage the NYSC SAED Festival aimed at creating a platform for Corps members to showcase their business and vocational skills to investors and other stakeholders to attract funding and material support as well as greater networking with the business community. The current management at the NYSC further facilitated the provision of credit facilities for corps members through collaboration with banks and the launching of Job Portal as well as SAED connect platforms which have expanded opportunities and created alternative platforms for training and mentorship of corps members nationwide.
Onwubiko is head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)