Saturday, 15 October 2016


When in 1973, the then Head of State; Rtd. General Yakubu Gowon, established the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, the unity of the country among other things obviously topped his agenda.
Recall that the NYSC scheme was created in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war that threatened the unity of the country. It was this disunity created by that war that called for the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps by decree No. 24 of 22nd May 1973.
The degree said: "NYSC is being established with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity". And it is in keeping with this solemn vision that the scheme has survived till date. The Forty-three year old compulsory graduates’ scheme has succeeded in mobilizing and discharging qualified millions of Nigerian youths under the age of thirty, with many more earnestly expectant.
Indeed, through the instrumentality of the NYSC programme, national cohesion has been greatly fostered. To many, their period of national service year would remain indelible in their minds.
But then, this once revered scheme has in recent years slowly and steadily lost its former glory, thereby generating controversial sentiments on the validity of its usefulness. Firstly, the wanton killing, kidnapping and looting of the corps members’ lives and personal effects in their place of primary assignments are a source of deep distress to not only the scheme but to Nigeria at large. It was on this note that one  social media commentator, Emeka Ibemere once regretted that the 'service has now become a field where NYSC members are killed regularly while the government that sent them on the service look the other way round without any action against the assailants.' Mr. Ibemere maintained that of recent, NYSC has not been without its downs, with tales of killings and abductions of Corps Members everywhere, every time.
It is a thing most annoying to know that the NYSC of 1973 is totally different from the one of today. In the past, the scheme used to serve as a platform for Corps members to transit from student life to employee's life as jobs were out there chasing after them. Yes; back then, the scheme was amenable to the principles of comparative advantage and area of specialisation; (as the economists would say), which advocate for proper utilization of skills. But today, every serving Corps member irrespective of his area of discipline is seen as a prospective teacher that could be sent to the classroom.
The federal government on its part has shown in both action and body language that the NYSC scheme is no longer sustainable. Otherwise, what could justify the government's decision to cut down the budgetary allocation accrued to the NYSC scheme thereby forcing the NYSC management to not only   disrupt the June/July Calendar for Batch B Prospective Corps Members, but also made moves to give a limit to the number that could be mobilized, their qualifications to be mobilized notwithstanding hence prolonging the years of sit-at-home of these innocent young citizens and also encouraging favouritism. This situation was however saved by the timely intervention of the leadership of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) led by Comr. Obasi Chinonso. It would  therefore  have amounted to an aberration for a government of a country to heartlessly stall the progress of its citizens.  To graduate from a higher institution after not less than four years even in the face of hard economic atmosphere of ours, with plans and expectation built up only to be thrash by the so-called NYSC is simply disheartening.
With a monthly allowance of N19,800 for every serving corps member cross the country in these hard days irrespective of place of posting, how can they survive?  How will they save? Even at that, the allowance doesn't come as at when due nowadays hence turning Corps into corpse.
Hold on! What is this that we are dwelling on? Ain’t this an utter derail from the pristine purpose for which the writers of this article pen? The initial reason that prompted the writing of this article is to call for not just the stalling of NYSC, but for the total “throw into the bin” of the said scheme, which from all indication is as you read, outmoded, inoperable, impracticable and etc. Though every good article must be written with an entire divergent audience at heart, hence this is tuned a little to the right and a little to the left.
Amidst all said than done, it is salient to note unequivocally that the NYSC scheme has outlived its usefulness, thereby bringing about the urgent need for the scrapping of the scheme. A lot more of Nigerian graduates are at the moment hell bent on going for Service for too many eerie reasons, too strange that it negates in all ramifications, the founding vision(s) of the said scheme. Some jump up at the thought of service because of the stipend being paid, others because they envisage meeting their life partner(s), while the remaining percentage of the graduate populace look forward to mostly an unrealistic opportunity of being  converted a staff of a well paying job or something similar on being discharged. Funniest amongst them are those who are poised to serve because it is the only publicly notable way to certify that they have truly graduated from the tertiary institution. A female graduate in the heat of the purported slash of candidates going for service nearly took her emotional life. On being asked if exclusion from the scheme is a death sentence, she retorted, “I must serve o! I must wear that uniform and snap some pictures”.
Below is a collation of vox pop from some graduates (both mobilized and discharged) revealing the need for a reassessment of the needfulness or needlessness of the scheme:

I guess for me, there isn't any other reason. I just needed to fulfill all righteousness. NYSC isn't what it used to be again however its still the best option to reducing the shock that's often experienced as one passes from campus to real life. I was already in real life while in campus hence my position.

Alozie Chinenyeuba

To meet new people, be in a different environment and also for greener pasture (Job)
Frank Chidimma

My reasons are as follows :to serve my mother's land. To exhibit and put into practice what has been inculcated in me by my teacher and lecturers. And as citizen of this country it is my right implemented by Yakubu Gowon and it will enable me to associate with different ethnics to know their culture and language
Azubike Bright

To gain Experience about different cultures of the   be experience on how to face the labour market. To be qualified as a full Nigerian graduate
Agbakuru Emmanuel

To be brief and Concise, I would also be among those that has participated in Serving because, I would really want 2 have the experience of the Disciplines and the acquiring of Social and Cultural morals of the Country

 Eze Bonaventure Ebuka 

To serve the society (Nigeria) with what they have imparted in me. Knowledge and skill for service…
Chikwendu Chukwuka

I would like to go for NYSC because it’s the chance I get to serve my country, the pledge states "to serve my country with all my strength" and this time am serving my country with my youthful strength... Another reason is i will be able to meet new people and get to know new cultures, norms and tradition
Able Glory Kelechi

Don’t really get the need for the so called NYSC, to me I wonder what the training is all about if it’s to prepare the fresh graduate for the labour market or is it something diff than I thought? But if it is actually what is in my mind then I must say there is no need for NYSC because we already have trained ourselves based on Nigerian economy youths who really want to earn higher labour even while studying'
To me only reason I want to go for it is just to wear that kaki so that people will actually know that am a graduate and hmmmm don’t you see, my reason make no sense. I will prefer it if the certificate would be offered to us after graduation for those who want to further more to continue immediately in other to start a living while brains are hot and body is fit rather than waiting and wasting time in an unnecessary thing.
Echewodo Augustina Chidinma

Service is what certify one being a fully recognized graduate ND even n the labour market it gives u an edge to your contemporary besides without service one won't get the NYSC discharge certificate which must be required n most standardised organization before u are employed for as any position the Grandfinali is that NYSC is a necessity to any graduate for one to standout n d labour market
Ezinne Eguekwe

To reside and associate with people from other tribes within the Country.
Nature Johnmary

To get that discharge certificate.
Ezeji Hipolite

The only reason why I want to go is because of the NYSC certificate aside that I think it’s a waste of time…
Obakpomedia Akpevwe

One is you get exposed to different cultures and way of life. Secondly for those who are prudent with money they can actually make savings from the meagre allowance they are being paid and use it and add capital to start up a small scale business of their own until they get better means of earning a living. Outside that for me it’s nothing but fun and waste of time
Nji Chioma

It doesn't make any sense to me. Does it add anything to what you've learnt in school? Does it stop you from going to look for another job? Haven't we spent enough time gathering some working experience during Industrial Training? Does it guarantee fast employment when you apply for jobs?
Mrs. Evans Kelechi

I want to go for service because I want to serve my father's land. I also want to garner and gather the firsthand experience associated with it and in addition, integrate

Having lived my entire life in the east, I really wanted to see how life in other geographical zones is, and am achieving that now. My mentality about Northerners has changed drastically
Chuks Ukaha

Nothing! In fact, if it were to be optional, I'll opt out

It's an avenue to visit States in my country that I don't know. I will learn their tradition, norms and belief. I love teaching, and I pray to have time interact with kids.
Gift Nwachuwkwu

It’s the only way in which people will regard you as a graduate. Then I want to wear that "kaki'' (laughs), the activities, to have that experience like others. If you don't serve, you won't be recognized as a graduate.

In my own word "reward" of my 4 to 5 years suffering... The one year allowee...

My dear, it is not compulsory if you r able to get a job where you are being paid well, but for others NYSC helps them to be able to get a job… #myopinionthough... because it's worked for others...
Stella Chioma Ukachukwu

I need the discharge certificate inorder to get a beta job
Ufanima John

You can't find a job without NYSC certificate.
Yusuf Murtala Abubakar

I need NYSC to help me meet and select better and other entrepreneurs, so as to syndicate and form a company
Chukwuzitere Lucky

I need the certificate to further my education.
Petromena Duru

You need the certificate for God sake
Orimo Ileanwa Kenneth

I went to service because I wanted to go to a new place outside my state of origin, so as to learn the people’s culture and have more understanding about the diversity of Nigeria, mostly in terms of ethnic groups and native languages.
Councillor Onyeama

Actually, I don’t even want to serve. Looking at the entire system, it calls for delay. Currently, I have a challenge  that is, two federal civil service jobs waiting for me but I cannot proceed with them because  I don’t even have NYSC discharged certificate and by the time  I round off with it, how old will I be? So, the whole thing is frustrating.
Raphael Okere

Now you have heard it all from the ‘Horses’, it is time to make up your own mind on what to believe or not or how to perceive the NYSC scheme. But before then, there are still a couple of answers required to some questions: what long term economic value is this scheme adding to the economy of the nation? What about those supposedly serving but are never seen in their places of primary assignment, rather they are seen at their cities of domicile doing one business or another? How many of the discharged youths come back better persons than they were before embarking on the scheme? Answers to these questions are welcome on the reader’s comment section below.
From all points marshalled above, the bad news seems unprecedented. The good news however that is, is that there is no problem devoid of solution. What the Federal Government of Nigeria must do to solve this problem once and for all time is to:
1.     Scrap and bring an end to the nightmare and dream killer called NYSC scheme.
2.     In any event, if the Federal government still have hopes hanging around for the said scheme, it should be made a selectable choice where graduates will willingly opt to go for service or willingly opt out; staying in their cities of domicile to do what will benefit themselves and the economy. Again, the much revered NYSC discharged certificate should not be made a prerequisite for obtaining a job in the country or for furtherance of academic studies. Subsequently, those who will love to go will be those who had no job or business doing prior to their graduation.
3.     The scheme on being made optional should be changed to a core Skill acquisition programme (every Skill rightly chosen by each trainee Corp Member with respect to his or her discipline), spanning across a period of one year. It is worthy to note that this one year programme will be without any form of monthly payment or remuneration, though top notch security cum a decent accommodation will be the sole responsibility will fall on the government’s shoulder. In other words, the parents or guardian of each trainee Corp Member will see to their welfare and upkeep. Beneficiaries of fully funded scholarship schemes should be required to present a proof which will enable them receive grants for upkeep. The first six months will cover a core concentration of the training proper, while the last six months will have the trained and certified Corp Members practising what they have acquired. Monies made from such monitored practise will be paid to the Corp Member on being discharged and the remaining injected into the national coffers. The bulk cash paid to discharged members will serve as an entrepreneurial empowerment fund, as each will be encouraged to set up a medium scale business bordering around the skill they acquired.
4.     Corp should be excluded from any form of active political participation as adhoc staff etc
5.     Identification cards are simply enough for Corp Members identification, hence the huge expenditure on Corpers’ uniform will be ruled out and the monies channelled into other meaningful projects.
This when implemented will put an end to all the problems bedevilling this once lucrative scheme.
A word is enough for a wise listening Nation and all those at the helm of her affairs.

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