By EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO
“To desire and strive to be of some service to the world, to aim at doing something which shall really increase the happiness and welfare and virtue of mankind—this is a choice which is possible for all of us and surely it is good heaven to sail for”.
– HENRY VAN DYKE.
Ian Stewart, a professor of Mathematics at the university of Warwick, England, is the author of concept of modern mathematics; Does God play Dice, flatterland, from here to infinity and Nature’s numbers. He once wrote on number symbolism, cultural association, including religious, philosophic and aesthetic with various numbers. Professor Stewart wrote that: “Humanity has had a love-hate relationship with numbers from the earliest times.”
The Mathematical guru continued thus: “Bones dating from perhaps 30,000 years ago show scratch marks that possibly represent the phases of the Moon.” The ancient Babylonians observed the movements of the planets, recorded them as numbers, and used them to predict eclipses and other astronomical phenomena, Professor Stewart recalled. He then reminds us that the priesthood of ancient Egypt used numbers to predict the flooding of the Nile. Pythagoreanism, a cult of ancient Greece, believed that numbers were the basis of the entire universe, which ran on numerical harmony. He said that the Pythagoreans’ ideas were a mixture of prescience (the numerical features of musical sounds) and mysticism (3 is male, 4 is female, and 10 is the most perfect number). Numbers were associated with names for magical purposes: the biblical “number of the beast.
Speaking about numbers and their symbolism brings us to the reality that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) came into being on 22nd May 1973, thus making it 48 years since it was established. As it is generally said that ‘a fool at 40 is a fool forever,” the NYSC however is one institution that has never suffered foolery but rather it is like that typical old wine whose taste is the sweetest. As it is said in the tradition of Palmie lovers like this writer, ‘the older the Palm Wine, the tastier’. An irony however is that in Nigeria with a lot of dysfunctional institutions messed up by those put in charge of them over time, the NYSC has gone through a lot of attacks from a variety of adversaries for different reasons. One of such attack exploded exactly on the day that the NYSC turned 48 when it was leaked by the media that someone in the Federal House of Representatives had hatched the plots to destroy NYSC and bring its existence to an unceremonious end.
Immediately this sad piece of information became notorious, a wide variety of Nigerians from all walks of life, kicked against any contemplation to destroy NYSC by any means. One of such groups that immediately rejected the proposal and described it as a National suicidal proposition is the Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA). In its reaction, it stated that: “President Muhammadu Buhari should jealously guide against any attempt from whatever quarters to tinker negatively with the National Youths Service Corp Scheme (NYSC). As far as most Civil Rights practitioners in Abuja are concerned, this government has made remarkable milestones in the Youth sector. The consistent strides made by President Buhari to sustain the only legacy that reminds us of our National Unity which is the NYSC, have become a beacon of hope for generations yet unborn.
On no account should any negative force be permitted to succeed in scuttling the NYSC. What we expect is for all hands to be on deck to consolidate on the gains made by NYSC and to strengthen its operational capacity.” With the above, the nation’s leading Civil Rights Advocacy group-: Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) and it’s continental arm- Association of African Writers on Human and Peoples Rights (AFRIRIGHTS) has appealed to speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and Senate President Ahmed Lawan to throw away the reported proposal though a Constitutional alteration bill to abolish the NYSC scheme as moved by a member of parliament.
THE House of Representatives is said to be considering discontinuation of the National Youth Service Corps scheme. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Alteration Bill, 2020, which is seeking to repeal the NYSC Act, is billed for the second reading. The sponsor, Mr Awaji-Inombek Abiante, in the explanatory memorandum of the proposal, listed the various reasons why the NYSC should be scrapped. It read in part, “This bill seeks to repeal Section 315(5)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended) on the following grounds: “Incessant killing of innocent corps members in some parts of the country due to banditry, religious extremism and ethnic violence; incessant kidnapping of innocent corps members across the country;
“Public and private agencies/departments are no longer recruiting able and qualified Nigerian youths, thus relying heavily on the availability of corps members who are not being well remunerated and get discarded with impunity at the end of their service year without any hope of being gainfully employed; “Due to insecurity across the country, the National Youth Service Corps management now gives considerations to posting corps members to their geopolitical zone, thus defeating one of the objectives of setting up the service corps, i.e. developing common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.” The military regime of General Yakubu Gowon had established the NYSC on May 22, 1973, under Decree No. 24 of 1973 as a way of reconciling and reintegrating Nigerians after the civil war between July 6, 1967 and January 15, 1970. However, HURIWA has threatened mass action should this negative piece of legislation be carried beyond its current status. “We are very hopeful that both speaker of parliament and the Senate President are proud products of the Noble NYSC .
Scheme and should ensure that no stone is left unturn to stop forth with the retrogressive March to infamy which is what the proposal to end the NYSC Scheme represents. The tepid excuse of Insecurity as reason for contemplating such a National suicidal move, does not hold water.” The Rights group described the NYSC Scheme as the most viable bridge to national unity even as the group said these trying times of divisions, calls for separation of the Country by mostly younger citizens is even the best time to consolidate on the gains made by NYSC. It is tragic for any rational being to even contemplate scrapping the only Institution that unify the Youths of all ethnicities.
“Can we once more remind the National Assembly that NYSC is meeting the legal obligations for which it was set up. Indeed NYSC is one Institution that it helping to douse tension and check insecurity because it is such a watershed platform that keeps thousands of Youths busy all year round. The objectives of the National Youth Service Corps Scheme are clearly spelt out in Decree No.51 of 16th June 1993 as follows: “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 in the Nigerian youths the attitudes of mind, acquired through shared experience and suitable training. which will make them more amenable to mobilisation 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; 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 ; The equitable distribution of members of the service corps and the effective utilisation of their skills in area of national needs ; That as far as possible, youths are assigned to jobs in States other than their States of origin ; That such group of youths assigned to work together is as representative of Nigeria as far as possible.
That the Nigerian youths are exposed to the modes of living of the people in different parts of Nigeria ; That the Nigerian youths are encouraged to eschew religious intolerance by accommodating religious differences ; That members of the service corps are encouraged to seek at the end of their one year national service, career employment all over Nigeria, thus promoting the free movement of labour ; That employers are induced partly through their experience with members of the service corps to employ more readily and on a permanent basis, qualified Nigerians, irrespective of their States of origin”.
Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA)