There was a bill that sought the scrapping of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme a year ago which was rejected by the National Assembly because of how the scheme makes great contributions towards the attainment of national development.
The NYSC scheme was introduced by the former Nigerian military head of state General Yakubu Gowon on May 22, 1973 in an attempt to establish and maintain peaceful coexistence among Nigerian citizens after the deadly civil war of 1967-1970. The war created hatred among people of different regions of the country.
In his attempt to salvage the country from secession and disunity, Gen. Yakubu Gowon created various programmes under the policy of 3Rs which represents Reconstruction, Reconciliation and Rehabilitation. At that time the relationship between the regions was very seldom and ugly, thus, they had to be reconciled and their relationship be reconstructed.
In NYSC, young Nigerian graduates are posted to states outside their native zones to be mixed with people of different ethnic groups in order to understand the culture of the posted areas and establish harmonious relationship with the people of that environment. Gowon’s targets were; maintaining the hard-earned peace, promotion of national unity, building friendship among different tongues and tribes, among others.
NYSC scheme achieves a lots but few are to be explained below;
Promotion of national unity: one of the areas in which NYSC scheme has made impact in today’s Nigerian society is uniting the citizens by living together to understand themselves as one. I met a friend in the NYSC orientation camp who told me that he never lived together with people that practice a religion other than his own, as such he didn’t even consider them as human beings. But that living together with them for that three weeks in the orientation camp made him to arrive at the conclusion that they are also fellow rational human beings and it’s only opinions and beliefs that differ.
Many societies are badly stereotyped but when one lives with them he will come to understand that they aren’t as bad as they are painted so NYSC eliminates these perceptions in the psyche of young Nigerian graduates and improvie their social skills to live in any part of the world.
Promotion of discipline and patriotism: one of the contributions of NYSC scheme to national development is promotion of discipline and patriotism among Nigerian youth. It used to be said that the camp is a “regimented area” which you can’t fully decipher it until you get there, as adults and graduates. The camp officials dictate and schedule everything for us like what to eat and when, when to take bath and when to sleep, which attire to wear, etc. It is regimented indeed and punishments are attached to non compliance.
In the camp also we were all patriotic citizens. We sleep with the national anthem, national prayer, national pledge and NYSC anthem and wake-up with them. If you ask anyone when he last read them, he would tell you “during his secondary school days”. So things like national prayer some of us could not even read them before.
Sharing human resources: one of the key areas in which NYSC scheme is relevant to national development is sharing human resources for balanced growth and development. There are a lot of areas where they lack professionals in specific areas but with the NYSC’s distribution of graduates to various locations, even local communities may have the privilege of having such professionals like medical doctors, engineers, lawyers, journalists, administrators, etc that they never produced.
Educational development: Education is said to be the bedrock of development and no society can develop beyond its intellectual capacity, as such, a greater percentage of corps members are posted to various schools and higher institutions of learning to impart the knowledge they acquired. Many schools can only have graduates as teachers as a result of NYSC scheme and you can hardly find someone who succeeded in academic life that a corps member don’t penetrate and have effects in the course of his learning.
Creation of job opportunities for young graduates: many graduates start their job careers from where they are posted to carryout their primary assignments and if satisfied with their performance, some organisations even retain them. As such it creates job opportunities for the young graduates.
Entrepreneurship development: Due to the inability of government to provide employment for its entire graduates, entrepreneurship was introduced in higher institutions of learning and even in NYSC which is regarded as SAED a compulsory entrepreneurship training in the camp and optional after the camp while serving which also serves as a means for promoting self-reliance.
Many graduates specialised in some handworks and businesses which the communities they are posted for primary assignments do not know about them but having enjoyed the goods and services provided by such business or handwork specialised corps members the members of community learn and sustain such skills.
Inculcation of community development values: As a result of community development services that corps members execute during their service year, the community development values they learned from their personal and group community development services they rendered during their service year they use it after their service year for the development of their communities.
Enlarging graduates’ knowledge and experiences regarding Nigerian people and cultures: most of the leaders we have in Nigeria are university graduates, as such, leaders need to have broad knowledge about Nigerian people and their cultures so as to make decisions that suit the cultures of different communities. This is also acquired through NYSC.
Preparation for life after graduation: During schooling days most of parents take the responsibilities of their schooling sons and daughters but immediately they graduate and join NYSC, it is known that they enjoy some allowances which makes parents to withdraw their financial support to make the daughters and sons consider it as a transition from depending on parents to being independent.
I hope with this short note I have enlightened the public on the relevance of NYSC scheme to national development.
Muhammad Azare, a just passed-out corps member, writes from Maiduguri, Borno state via [email protected]