The Director-General, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig-General Shu’aibu Ibrahim, has renewed the commitment of the Scheme to national unity and integration, as well as self-improvement through a well-designed Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Programme (SAED).
General Ibrahim disclosed this in a special interview and interactive live programme on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa service entitled, “Ra’ayi Riga”.
The DG who admitted that security challenges are not peculiar to the NYSC, called on all stakeholders to sustain effective synergy with government, and support security agencies in ensuring that all citizens, especially corps members are protected, and allowed to deploy their potentials in extending the frontiers of development in every nook and cranny of this country.
“I always advise Corps Members to be security conscious wherever they go. If I visit them at the Orientation Camp, I always advise them against unauthorised journeys and the grave consequence of night journeys.
“Parents should also help in educating and prevailing on their children to desist from embarking on late night journeys; because this is the area the Scheme has recorded avoidable accidents,” General Ibrahim said.
On the continued relevance of the NYSC as a catalyst for national integration and sustainable development in the national economy, Ibrahim emphasised that the NYSC remains a lasting legacy and an institutional framework that promotes national unity and peaceful coexistence.
He debunked the claim of kidnapping and killing of corps members, the basis for the renewed debate on the scrapping of the scheme, clarifying that apart from the unfortunate incident of the 2011 electoral violence, no such record exists in NYSC.
He added that the scheme is more relevant now in addressing the contemporary challenges of national unity in Nigeria than ever before.
“Since the creation of NYSC 48 years ago, Corps Members have been discharging selfless service all over the federation. They are in our schools teaching in the rural areas, they work in hospitals, especially in our rural areas where they treat indigent people and give free drugs and eye-glasses to patients and a host of other interventions in the national economy,” he stated.
The NYSC DG equally acknowledged the contributions of corps members in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. He disclosed that during the lockdown, corps members were at the forefront, supporting the national response against COVID-19 across the country, where they utilised their skills in the production of facemasks, hand sanitisers and soap.
He added that some of them even sacrificed their allowances to procure food items and distributed same to the less privileged as palliatives.
While responding on the need for the provisions of post-service employment and sustainable self-reliance packages, the NYSC helmsman said the SAED programme of the scheme is doing well in empowering corps members with the requisite skills, while financial institutions such as Bank of Industry extend credit facilities to them.
Most of these corps members empowered, he said, are not only owning flourishing businesses, but equally employ other Nigerians, thus accelerating rapid economic growth.
“Most corps members have benefitted from the SAED programme. They learnt skills, established companies, business ventures, settled down, married and own houses in their host communities all over the country.
According to him, “They don’t even think of white-collar jobs which are not readily available. Instead, they are self-employed, employing other people in their respective companies, facilitated by the SAED initiative of the Scheme.” The DG also dismissed the argument in favour of providing funds for graduates at the point of graduation, instead of the service year experience.
He said the relevance of the orientation course during which graduates learn many useful things, getting inculcated the spirit of discipline and patriotism.
He stated that corps members learn the rudiments of leadership in the orientation camp.
General Ibrahim however revealed that the scheme is approaching the Federal Government on the need for NYSC Trust Fund where resources will be dedicated to improving relevant facilities in the camps and NYSC formations, while also providing grants to corps members that will enable them start up their businesses under the SAED programme.