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Osorhor Ogenevwegba Michael
Delta state polytechnic otefe oghara ( DESPO )
Graduate, Nigeria.
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In this report, STELLAMARIES AMUWA takes a look at the role of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) in national development as the scheme clocks 46 years of existence.

In his Independence Day anniversary broadcast on October 1, 1972, General Yakubu Gowon, then Head of State of Nigeria, announced plans for the establishment of the NYSC. On May 22, 1973, the scheme was established through the legal instrument of Decree 24. The Decree, now an Act of the National Assembly, specifically states that the NYSC is established ‘‘with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national Unity.’’

The service corps commenced operation on June 4, 1973, with the inauguration of the National Directorate Headquarters and six weeks later on July 2, 1973, the pioneer participants were called up to commence service. A total of 2,364 graduates from the then six existing universities in the country started the programme.

46 years down the line, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has been meteoric in growth, size, operation and indeed accomplishments pursuant to its mandate. From 2,364 on inception, the scheme today, mobilises over 300,000 participants yearly. As at 2018, 4,071, 581 Nigerian youths have participated in the scheme.

In the same vein, the scheme has, in over four decades of existence, extensively impacted positively on every aspect of Nigeria’s socio-economic development.

Meanwhile, it has recorded remarkable achievements in engendering national integration and unity. Over time, NYSC has become the pace-setter in expanding the horizon of Nigerian youths, providing the platform for them to interact with their contemporaries from different parts of the country. This has orchestrated long lasting bond of friendship and built bridges across cultural divides.
Indeed, NYSC has become a pivot of national unity as several inter-tribal marriages have been contracted as a result of exposing youths to the service corps.

To this effect, Agada Isaac, an Abuja resident and father of three children said, “I served in Imo State where I met my wife who was also serving some seven years ago, though she is from Delta State, NYSC brought us together. We got married after service year.”

For Nnenna Da’Gang, she will remain thankful to her father who insisted she must serve where NYSC posted her. “I was born in Anambra State, had my primary, secondary and university education in Anambra and when my posting came, I was to serve in Plateau State. I quickly ran to my dad to use his connection and redeploy me to my state or maybe any of the nearby states since I had never been to the north at the time.
“But I got a shocker when my dad insisted I must go to Plateau and experience the life style up north. Thank God my Dad insisted, today I am happily married to a Birom man from that state.”

Similarly, many corps members have settled in the states they were deployed to serve, having pulled down the barriers of ethnic suspicions and unfounded stereotypes resulting from first-hand experience of other cultures.

Adedonyi Olabode, a former corps member posted to serve in Abuja, said; “I graduated from University of Benin but I’m from Ondo State. I was excited when I got my call up letter to serve in Abuja since it was going to be my first time in Abuja. I only passed through to Kaduna just once. But when I came here, I fell in love with the city and after service year, got employment in one of the parastatals, now my life has changed for good.”

In addition to driving national integration, NYSC members supplement manpower deficiency in academic institutions, health facilities, MDAs and contribute to infrastructural growth in the country through construction and rehabilitation of roads, bridges, etc., both in the urban and rural areas, such that every local government area in the country can boast of the presence of corps members. The scheme is able to achieve this feat given its spread and presence in almost every community in the country.

NYSC has continued to renew and make itself indispensable through evolving policies and programmes that have clearly identified it as a foremost institution and vehicle for driving national unity and development in the country.
No doubt, the introduction of the skills acquisition and entrepreneurship programme into the service year remains very impactful. As an antidote to the wide spread youth unemployment problem in the country, the NYSC skill acquisition programme is designed to give corps members the opportunity to learn vocational skills of their choice right from the orientation camp and through the service year, to prepare them for self-employment at the end of their assignment.
These vocational training are in agro-allied, automobile, construction, cosmetology, culture and tourism, education, environment, film and photography, food processing/preservation, horticulture and landscaping, information and communication technology and power and energy.

Post camp training is facilitated by skill-trainers collaborating with the scheme at the places of primary assignment of corps members. In addition to this, through public private partnership, NYSC has completed the building and equipping of a 1,000 capacity integrated skills acquisition training centre in Gombe State and another in Ekiti State. The centers are to be replicated in each of the six geopolitical zones to enhance the training.

In furtherance of the efforts to encourage corps members to embrace skills and entrepreneurship for self-reliance, the scheme with the support of the federal government floated a programme tagged ‘War Against Poverty (WAP).’ It seeks to empower corps members with agro-enterprise skills and interest-free loans for employment and wealth creation, eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and boosting agricultural productivity for national food security which are in tandem with some of the SDGs. At the end of the training, corps members are empowered with interest-free loans ranging from N200, 000 to N300, 000 and repayable over 30 months. So far, over 5,000 corps members have been fully empowered and are doing well as agro entrepreneurs.

The success NYSC has recorded in the implementation of these government and nongovernmental programmes and projects, including the MDGs, HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, polio eradication, etc. It continues to attract more request for collaboration with the scheme as a result of the realisation that its pool of skilled manpower and active presence in all the local governments of the country puts it in a better position to domesticate any programme or project at the grass root level. Some of the organisations currently collaborating with the scheme to execute their mandates include, FRSC, NEMA, NDE, NIM and Legal Aid Council. Others include ICPC, EFCC, NPI, NAFDAC and the National Population Commission among others.

In line with the policy of the scheme that accords top priority to the security and general welfare of corps members, the management consistently and continuously pursues initiatives in this direction. The scheme has been liaising with various security agencies to ensure the safety of corps members wherever they are serving in the country.
Further to this, a Distress Call Centre (DCC) was established by the scheme domiciled in the National Directorate Headquarters. The centre is equipped with communication facilities that are manned 24 hours daily to ensure timely and well-coordinated response to calls from corps members who find themselves in distress situation, through contact with the nearest offices of security agencies and other key stakeholders at critical times. In the same vein, the scheme produces security tips booklets, which are issued to all corps members. The document contains easily digestible tips, which help to keep them off the harm’s way.

In order to ensure proper utilisation of the potentials of corps members, the scheme has evolved a policy that ensures that they are only posted to the nation’s four critical areas of need, namely: education, agriculture, rural health and infrastructure. The new posting policy is in line with the dictates of the Act that established the scheme which mandates it to ensure equitable distribution of corps members and the effective utilisation of their skills in areas of national need. Corps members are mostly needed in the rural areas where there is severe infrastructure deficit, lack of skilled manpower in educational and health institutions, etc. And it is on record that they are better utilised and appreciated in the rural areas.

The coming on board recently of Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim as the new Director General of the scheme is no doubt, a positive vista in the fortunes of the scheme. He is an accomplished scholar and consummate administrator. From the policy thrust of his administration, impressive profile and past record of achievements, there is no denying the fact that the NYSC is indeed in for a tremendous transformation and greater achievements.

Source leadership.ng/2019/05/31/nysc-46-years-of-service-to-fatherland/amp/
Nysc: 46 Years Of Service To Fatherland - NYSC

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