THE bill currently undergoing debate at the National Assembly seeking an end to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme has generated reactions among many Nigerians.
THE administration of General Yakubu Gowon (Rtd) established the scheme in 1973 as tool for national integration after Nigeria survived a civil war. A member representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State, Awaji-InombekAbiante, who sponsored the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives, listed some reasons why the scheme should be scrapped.
PART of the arguments canvassed by the lawmaker backing his claim was the widespread insecurity across the country which has endangered the lives of corps members leading to the death of many. He also argued that the scheme has contributed to the growing rate of unemployment as many public and private sectors deliberately refuse to employ qualified youths into their services because they rely on the cheap service they get from NYSC members who they throw into the labour market after using them for a year.
IN spite of the valid arguments advanced by the proponent of the bill, The Hope opines that such are not enough justification for scrapping the scheme going by the adage,“cutting off the head that aches is not a remedy for headache”. As a matter of fact, the NYSC has remained the most enduring symbol of national identity Nigeria can boast of today. Potential graduates from different states of the federation look forward to the scheme and see it as their own contribution to national development and The Hope therefore insists that the NYSC scheme should remain because it is one of the ways of ensuring that youths are positively engaged, such a purpose will be defeated if it is scrapped.
THE founding fathers saw the scheme as a means of cementing relationship across the tribes. It is still as important as ever, especially in the wake of calls for separation. Besides, the scheme has remained perhaps the only opportunity for some Nigerian youths and their parents to have a feel of government in terms of allowances as many would never have got any such allowance from government in their lifetime but for the one year compulsory service.
OUR position is by no means ignoring the issues raised against the scheme as contained in the current bill. Truly there are challenges with the scheme just as there are in all other sectors of our national life. The Hope believes the best thing to do for now is to look at those challenges and work towards surmounting them.
FOR instance, on insecurity, authorities of the scheme should ensure that corps members are not posted to volatile areas. Already, there are no orientation camps in the volatile states and redeployment from there has been made flexible for corps members. The scheme can also be adjusted to allow corps members to serve in their regions but not in their states of origin if they so wish.
THE idea of posting corps members to schools en masse for the purpose of teaching should be reviewed. This is because not all of them have competence in teaching. Truth is corps members are being used as cheap labour in schools because government has failed to employ adequate staff in public schools. To address this, government should ensure only those who have the relevant academic background in core subjects are posted to serve in schools.
ANOTHER cog in the wheel of the scheme is the corrupt tendencies manifested by some staff of the scheme as well as parents who are privileged and well connected. For instance, some parents dictate where their children should be posted to. Others help their children to evade service. Also, the welfare of corps members in terms of kitting and feeding at the orientation camps is grossly compromised no thanks to corruption in the system as the food and kits served are of very low quality in most cases. To address this, government should emplace a monitoring system that will oversight the NYSC to ensure that sharp practices in the scheme are curtailed.
We also suggest that the current training of corps members should be up scaled, so that they can be useful for military service and intelligence. Such intelligence will be helpful to law enforcement agencies. We further suggest that learning at least two other languages by corps members, apart from their mother tongue, be introduced to accelerate national integration.
THE Hope therefore insists that the NYSC scheme should remain because it is one of the ways of ensuring that youths are positively engaged.
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