NYSC on path of unity and nation-building




 
The National Youth Service Corps scheme has come to stay in contributing to national development. AYONI AGBABIAKA reports. The one-year compulsory programme for university graduates tagged: ‘National Youth Service Corps’ set up on May 22, 1973 by General Yakubu Gowon is to foster national unity and cohesion.  The NYSC therefore is the most enduring institution that has stood the test of time for close to five decades, making enormous strides in education, agriculture, health, vocational training, infrastructure, sports and social services. Under the current director-general, new initiatives have been brought that further foster national unity and development.Although, the NYSC has constantly been criticised for being unable to secure corps members, the scheme has never relented in nation-building. Food security
To any nation, food is integral to national stability and total well-being of its citizenry. Knowing this and finding a means to ensure increased supply chain of food to its members and the nation at large, the NYSC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) to boost food production in the country. NYSC director-general, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, during the signing at the NYSC Headquarters in Abuja, recently commended NALDA for training 68 corps members as soil doctors and extension service workers.According to the DG, the MoU would make the respective NYSC farms more active with stakeholders’ support to enhance food sufficiency though the involvement of corps members.
350,000 manpower produced annually It is on record that the scheme mobilises more than 350,000 corps members annually to improve their potentials for both personal and societal development.According to General Ibrahim, the scheme introduced Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Programme into its Orientation Course Content in 2012 in order to empower corps members with vocations and relevant skills that would reduce the increasing rate of unemployment among the youths. “Many of our ex-corps members are fully established today in their states of deployment. Our corps members are knowledgeable and very skillful, but they need public support with a conducive environment,” he said while calling for public support to ensure that the corps members enjoy their stay wherever they may be.
Connecting with people
Although corps members may have a challenge getting used to their new environments at first, it is believed that they soon forget their worries and blended well with the people.As part of the take home from their compulsory one year service to national development, they often learn new languages for future interaction and business purposes. Others may learn new cooking and culinary skills of their host communities while some have had the ultimate and life long bonus of marital union as they mingle with  corps members from others states in marriage.The director-general had stated that in line with the National Defence Policy, corps members are like soldiers on reserve because their education, exposure and sophistication can make them adapt easily to military training. To that extent, he has always charged them to remain focused, patriotic and sustain the spirit of NYSC which fosters unity and togetherness.
Safeguarding the lives of youth
Despite this unity scheme, there have been concerns in the country that rather than build unity, corps members are used as tools for war. Recently, General Ibrahim stated that never at any point did NYSC say that corps members are being mobilised to fight war. Rather, the scheme shall continue to safeguard the interest of corps members at all times. “It is imperative to state that in NYSC, all lives matter.” Nonetheless, corps members at all times must also be security conscious and never treat their safety with levity, by unduly putting themselves in harm’s way through risky behaviors.
Redeployment
The scheme in all matters on deployment of corps members, relies strictly on expert advice from the security agencies and never denies any corps member redeployment based on the stipulated policy.In accordance with the Relocation Policy of the Scheme, the exercise (redeployment) is carried out based on two grounds—marital and health grounds.The NYSC scheme under General Ibrahim has always enforce the policy with human face. Relocation on the ground of marriage is applicable only to female corps members. On the ground of health, the Corps member’s medical history must be presented with a written application.
New grounds broken/blocking financial waste
Because bread and water are essential to the food supply to corps members during the three weeks orientation camps, which gulps millions of naira, General Ibrahim has continued to improve on the NYSC management vision for business growth and reducing financial wastage by establishing bakery, water factory and farms across the country.
National Youth Service Trust Fund
The director-general as part of strategic plan to further boost the productivity of the scheme has renewed his appeal for the establishment of National Youth Service Trust Fund whereby part of proceeds would be channeled as start-off funds for corps members to establish their businesses through the skills acquired during the service year, as well as maintenance of camp facilities. Young

Connecting with people
Although corps members may have a challenge getting used to their new environments at first, it is believed that they soon forget their worries and blended well with the people.As part of the take home from their compulsory one year service to national development, they often learn new languages for future interaction and business purposes. Others may learn new cooking and culinary skills of their host communities while some have had the ultimate and life long bonus of marital union as they mingle with  corps members from others states in marriage.The director-general had stated that in line with the National Defence Policy, corps members are like soldiers on reserve because their education, exposure and sophistication can make them adapt easily to military training. To that extent, he has always charged them to remain focused, patriotic and sustain the spirit of NYSC which fosters unity and togetherness.
Safeguarding the lives of youth
Despite this unity scheme, there have been concerns in the country that rather than build unity, corps members are used as tools for war. Recently, General Ibrahim stated that never at any point did NYSC say that corps members are being mobilised to fight war. Rather, the scheme shall continue to safeguard the interest of corps members at all times. “It is imperative to state that in NYSC, all lives matter.” Nonetheless, corps members at all times must also be security conscious and never treat their safety with levity, by unduly putting themselves in harm’s way through risky behaviors.

National Youth Service Trust Fund
The director-general as part of strategic plan to further boost the productivity of the scheme has renewed his appeal for the establishment of National Youth Service Trust Fund whereby part of proceeds would be channeled as start-off funds for corps members to establish their businesses through the skills acquired during the service year, as well as maintenance of camp facilities. 

Young farmers’ scheme
He also appealed to corps members with passion in agric-business to embrace the opportunity offered by NALDA through the National Young Farmers’ Scheme to be trained in modern farming methods and be more productive and reducing the wide gap in the unemployment.The executive secretary, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne said there is the need for increment in food security for all Nigerians. “Nigeria is in dire need of creation of job opportunities and when the youths are meaningfully engaged, there will be productivity. “NYSC would provide the land that would be used to train Corps members while NALDA is very much interested in the partnership. The collaboration would boost the country’s Gross Domestic Product,” Ikonne said. Health initiative for rural dwellers
NYSC Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers under Brigadier General Ibrahim has continued to reach more Nigerian in the rural areas with medical outreaches embarked upon by corps members. Worthy of mention is the fact that, the director-general not only monitors the exercise, he also participates by administering oral drops to children in the society. 

For the service to humanity, in one of the free medical outreaches, corps members were commended for their selfless services in the provision of free medical services to rural dwellers across the country. The Osu Ajiri of Edege Kingdom, Alhaji Halilu Bala Usman made the commendation during the monitoring in Mararaba Udege Village in Nasarawa state. He described Corps members as invaluable assets to national development; and their contributions cannot be underestimated.“We are really grateful to NYSC because we know the importance of NYSC and we have benefitted immensely in the education and health sectors and anyone that knows the importance of NYSC would not think of scrapping the dcheme,” he said.The NYSC director-general, who was at the venue to monitor the programme expressed his satisfaction about the nationwide exercise. He said, “Nigerians are responding nationwide and the corps members are contributing their quota to national development,” he said. Sticking to the roots

Redeployment
The scheme in all matters on deployment of corps members, relies strictly on expert advice from the security agencies and never denies any corps member redeployment based on the stipulated policy.In accordance with the Relocation Policy of the Scheme, the exercise (redeployment) is carried out based on two grounds—marital and health grounds.The NYSC scheme under General Ibrahim has always enforce the policy with human face. Relocation on the ground of marriage is applicable only to female corps members. On the ground of health, the Corps member’s medical history must be presented with a written application.
New grounds broken/blocking financial waste
Because bread and water are essential to the food supply to corps members during the three weeks orientation camps, which gulps millions of naira, General Ibrahim has continued to improve on the NYSC management vision for business growth and reducing financial wastage by establishing bakery, water factory and farms across the country.

Investigation reveals that the DG has never downplayed the roles of past mobilisers and partners of the scheme. The DG recently made an emotional and historic visit to the composer of the NYSC Anthem, Dr Oluwole Adetiran at his Ibafo residence in Ogun state.The visit was predicated on the news on the ill-health of the music icon. General lbrahim was full of praise for the man who single-handedly composed what has now become a very famous anthem of the Nigerian youths in the NYSC Scheme. He thanked Dr Adetiran for his unforgettable and invaluable contributions to the scheme via the anthem. He promised that the corps would continue to stand by him and members of his family at all times.The music legend thanked the DG for visit and for sustaining the values of the scheme which motivated him to compose the anthem. “I am very proud to be part of the NYSC success story through the anthem I composed. I am today fulfilled by this visit.” With the joyous reunion of the past and present figures in the scheme’s success stories, it is recommended that General Ibrahim continues to keep the flag of national unity flying but must also ensure that more grounds are broken with innovative and appealing measures to further boost the credibility of the scheme. 

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