NYSC: Expanding The Brackets By Amir Siddi Abdurrahman Yahya
The portrait of today’s NYSC scheme calls for exigent national concern. We must take a stand at this very point in our nation to either scrap this scheme or remodel it. In recent times, one can hardly find a yardstick to correlate the current state of the National Youth Service Corp scheme to the initial purpose for which it was created in 1973, which was to fundamentally bolster unity among Nigerians at a time when our federalism and independence were both young and fragile. For over 4 decades, the compulsory NYSC scheme has served a unique purpose in redefining Nigeria and promoting the marriage of ethno religious diversities and further promoting unity. However, successive presidents after General Yakubu Gowon had failed in one way or the other to continuously ameliorate the project to fit into current socio-political and economical puzzles of the Nation, instead this once-lauded project has been abandoned to serve the interest of an infinitesimal few; enriching the bank accounts of corrupt people while the real youths for which the scheme was designed are left to haemorrhage in discomfort and penury and this calls for a total systematic restructuring.
In the famous words of Albert Einstein “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. An in-depth analysis of the NYSC scheme gives a clear indication that, there is need for a definite plan, a new sense of direction as how to improve the scheme to align to current socio economic trends in Nigeria. No doubt, the NYSC should have been a beautiful scheme and an excellent post-tertiary transitional process if the Nigerian educational system isn’t so disjointed and mediocre and if employment on the other hand is guaranteed, but, in trying to extrapolate the advantages of this scheme in this era, one cannot stop to wonder how huge amount of money is annually invested only to yield little or no positive results.
Recently, we have prospective Youth Corp Members lobbying to be posted to places of their choice as against the delicately worked out plan that seeks to expose Corp members to new cultures and expand their horizon of Nigeria. In some orientation camps, corp members are underfed and exposed to unfavourable environmental conditions. Post- orientation, some Corp Members are exposed to harsh working conditions at their place of primary assignment (PPA), where they are paid measly amounts and are used as “Executive Slaves” to fill up vacant positions in organisations after which they are dumped into the already over-congested labour market. This type of narratives undermines the scheme and corrupts the purpose for which it was created.
If given the much needed attention, the NYSC scheme can serve as the key to diversification of Nigeria’s economy if we up the ante and push for greater reforms by harnessing the innovative minds of our young graduates and introducing well tailored policies to attract them to agriculture, food production and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SME). This will create employment; tackle food insecurity, youth restiveness and food insecurity which will further reduce societal frictions
The first priority is so sanitize the NYSC and tackle the attitude of participants towards the scheme. The NYSC must be revamped to be an avenue for self esteem, self dignity and patriotism. To serve these needs the first stage of the NYSC should be about patriotism; teaching grown men and women to develop an entirely new image of themselves and explore their inner hidden capabilities while impacting progressively on the Nation’s economy.
Secondly, the NYSC scheme must be restructured to fit into the socio economic trends of Nigeria via innovative entrepreneurial and empowerment schemes where participants are trained and re trained on agriculture and food production as well as fusing current technologies into these areas to maximise efficiency and yields. The establishment of the NYSC empowerment and entrepreneurial centres in various orientation camps in collaboration with the Federal and State Governments should be a priority.
The Ministry of Agriculture and the NYSC should embark on joint projects that will see important innovations in areas of agriculture and food production in Nigeria with proper utilisation of youth corp members. The establishment of NYSC farms in 6 geo-political zones in Nigeria is a roadmap to a new economic boom.
Thirdly, with the current trend of insecurity in Nigeria, the NYSC must be positioned to take part in the counter insurgency program. Interested Youth Corp Members should be trained to serve as reserves for the military, police, and paramilitary services. These set of Youth Corp Members are to be given extra military training in camps.
Lastly, there is need for the scheme to be re-assessed at least every 4 years, to examine the progress made and to also improve on the needed areas taken into cognisance societal dynamism.
AMIR SIDDI ABDURRAHMAN YAHYA