The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was established 45 years ago by the government of General Yakubu Gowon with the core mandate to promote the unity and integration of a very diverse country almost torn apart by three years of bitter and destructive civil war. In over four decades of operation, 17 helmsmen including the incumbent have superintended over the affairs of the corps. Each of them in their own peculiar way has proved their mettle in the discharge of their responsibilities. The present head, Major General Suleiman Kazaure, assumed office on April 18, 2016 as the 17th chief executive of the scheme.
While in position of leadership some leaders tend to push beyond the limits, explore new horizons to attain greater heights of achievement by evolving policies that shift the paradigm of administration. Major General Suleiman Kazaure, I believe, is cast in this mould. A humble unassuming officer and gentleman, he was busy, quietly playing his part in building, stabilising and sustaining the security architecture of the nation as the Commandant, Nigerian Army Language Institute, Ovim in Abia state when his acclaimed anonymity was broken with a call to duty at another front, the NYSC.
General Suleiman Kazaure, at the dawn of his stewardship outlined four focal areas to drive his administration on the path of realising the noble objectives of the scheme. These include, consolidating the achievements of previous administrations and breaking new grounds, motivating the staff through enhancement of welfare provisions, improving the welfare and security of corps members and expanding the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme through establishment of more skill centres and greater stakeholder involvement for skill and material support. Kazaure’s unique leadership disposition and attributes are evident in the articulation and implementation of the agenda of his administration. He has in the past three years demonstrated these in his strong will, determination and commitment to refocus the NYSC to play the expected pivotal role in fostering national unity and development as enunciated by the founding fathers.
After a thorough evaluation of the scheme, Kazaure, who came to the office with impressive academic credentials and wealth of experience, went to work to tackle the myriad of challenges bedeviling the scheme. These include poor facilities at NYSC orientation camps nationwide, security of corps members and staff, especially in parts of the country facing security challenges, backlog of prospective corps members yet to be mobilised for service due to paucity of funds and limited capacity of NYSC camps, amongst others.
In view of the fact that the law that established NYSC placed the responsibility of providing and maintaining Orientation camp facilities under the purview of state governments, Kazaure embarked on advocacy visits to governors, appealing to them to upgrade facilities in their orientation camps. The intensive improvement of facilities in NYSC orientation camps across the country in the past three years, sign posts the benefits of these visits. Virtually all orientation camps but a few across the country are operating in permanent camps with improved facilities.
To further enhance the welfare of corps members, the management under Kazaure is collaborating with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to provide free health services to corps members. The transport subsidy to corps members as well as the fund appropriated for their feeding at the orientation camp has equally been enhanced.
As earlier mentioned, one of the major challenges of the NYSC on his assumption of office was the backlog of prospective corps members waiting to be mobilised to participate in the scheme due to scarcity of funds. Through an ingenious interface with government, this has been effectively dealt with as the backlog of graduates have been mobilised and deployed for service leading to the stabilisation of the mobilisation calendar of the scheme. In fact, in 2018 alone the scheme executed seven orientation courses with over 300,000 corps members mobilised to serve in the scheme’s service year Batches of ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’.
It is on record that General Kazaure has further consolidated and expanded the deployment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the operations of the scheme. He ensured the nationwide implementation of biometric system of pay-rolling corps members for their monthly allowance and community development Service attendance to check truancy among them. Collaborations with JAMB and WAEC in the scheme’s mobilisation process are unmistakable evidence of the success stories of the current administration in this area. The enhanced efficiency, transparency and ease of doing business between the scheme and its various publics, on account of this, attracted to the scheme the 2016 NITDA/NIHILENT award for the best MDA in the innovative application of ICT solutions at the e-Nigeria 2016 e-Governance Dinner and Award Ceremony.
The humane disposition of Kazaure is further highlighted in the numerous interventions he has made to ensure that staff and corps members with health challenges are adequately catered for. It is in this regard that he upgraded the NYSC staff clinic with the procurement of state of the art equipments and added an optometry unit. The director general also instituted a policy that maintains a periodic supply of office furniture to all NYSC formations nationwide in his bid to create conducive work environment for the entire work force of the Scheme. These and other confidence building measures which he has relentlessly pursued have raised the morale of the staff to new heights and promoted industrial harmony in the scheme.
Under Kazaure’s leadership, sublime achievements have been recorded in the skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programme of the scheme designed to prepare corps members for self employment and job creation after their assignment. In line with his agenda to extend the frontiers of the programme, General Kazaure, through a partnership with Access Bank has completed the building and equipping of a 1,000 capacity mega integrated skills acquisition training centre in Gombe state, in addition to that of Ekiti. The centres, to be established in each of the six geopolitical zones, are to facilitate post camp skill training of corps members.
It is instructive that Kazaure’s commitment to refocusing the NYSC towards greater achievements in its core objective of promoting national unity and economic development is not only yielding the desired result but has broken new grounds, accorded more relevance and attracted increased global visibility to the scheme. Worthy of note is the request to the scheme by the Sierra-Leonean government for collaboration in the establishment of the National Youth Service of Sierra-Leone and invitation and active participation of the NYSC Cultural Troupe in the World Youth Festival held in Russia in 2017.
When his administration runs its full course, in addition to the many significant firsts he recorded including the first doctorate degree holder and Major General to head NYSC, he will be leaving fulfilled that during his era as the chief executive, the corps recorded unprecedented leap in fortunes and achievements.
Obeni is assistant director, public relations, NYSC.No tags for this post.