The Staying Power Of NYSC, By Emmanuel Onwubiko 

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Few weeks back, there emerged, a rash of editorial commentaries from some dailies in Nigeria which were critical about the continuous relevance of the National Youth Service Corps scheme(NYSC) over half a century since it was institutionalised.
The common denominator in all of these commentaries by these print media is that due to insecurity in parts of Nigeria with no end in sight, there is no need to continue to subject the new University graduates to undergo the compulsory one year national youth service.
Also, the newspapers cited the cases of high rejection rates of corpers posted to some government and private establishments as another reason. But an irrevocable value of the scheme that those newspapers found it incredibly tough to descard or repudiate is the role that the one year compulsory service to Nigeria plays in promoting and strenghtening integration amongst the different ethnicities given that these youngsters posted for national service hail from divergent ethno-religious affiliations.
I think that when challenges come to a society, the solution is not to cave in and surrender to those challenges, but the wise decision is to work out the best panacea to such issues militating against the total attainments of the stated goals for which the NYSC was institutionalised in the first place.
The challenge of insecurity is external to the setting up or the continuous relevance of NYSC because as I have often stated, the deteriorated state of insecurity hasn’t led to the end of government and so why argue that we should end a part or an aspect of government which the NYSC represents?
Again, we ought to ask the proponents of the end of NYSC because of the unprecedented insecurity, who is the authority that legally supposed to confront and holistically defeat terrorists and all genres of criminals? Is it the NYSC or is it the government? Surely, the answer is as constant as the morning star to such an extent that it is notorious that government actually exists to protect the citizens, safeguard the lives and property of the citizenry and this role requires that governance must continue even as the government is legally obligated to crush agents of insecurity and destabilisation.
The truth is that, if the federal government weighs in and accept the illogical argument of those canvassing an end to NYSC because of their stated reasons, it simply means that government has indeed signalled the end of government.  So it is very clear why we shouldn’t continue to encourage such destructive mindset that canvasses the end of NYSC.
Some of the critical editorials however pointed out rightly that the NYSC was established in 1973 by Decree No. 24 by the then head of state, Yakubu Gowon, when “national unity” was a priority, its objectives were to help reconstruct, reconcile, rebuild, and reintegrate the country after the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). The idea was to instil a culture of national service in the youth graduating from higher institutions of learning through the year-long service.
By posting them to areas outside their states of origin, they would have the opportunity to know the country better, interact with other ethnic nationalities and communities and foster national integration.
Its defenders and many communities across the country testify that over the years, corps members have provided such services, as doctors, teachers, engineers, and social workers where these skills were unavailable or in short supply.
Some corps members stayed back after their service year; inter-ethnic marriages took place and for Gowon and its defenders, the goal of “national unity” remains on course.
These same reasons adduced by the newspaper subsist. Has the government not reintroduced the old National Anthem whose main message is on national integration due to declining patriotism amongst Nigerians? So the NYSC needs to be consolidated to serve the country much better. Asking for the abrogation is fatalistic.
Can I ask the print media making those outlandish position on the NYSC’S scheme if the newspapers or books made in hard copies have disappeared because of the emergence of the Internet and the soft copy versions of the newspapers and books and the sudden popularity of this genre of publications? Did the newspapers and book publishers not effectively found a way out of the expected commercial loses by establishing the soft and hard copy genres to run simultaneously? This was what the newspapers globally did and the hard copies are still in circulation.
So why argue for the end of NYSC because of the emergence of terrorism and insecurity that are totally unconnected to the existence of the NYSC?
Besides, one modern day staying power of the NYSC is the ability of the management of the NYSC to work out strategic measures for infusing vocational, skills acquisition as a mainstay of the programme for each service year and the decision to ask the participants who are young graduates of tertiary academic schools to opt for one or more of the skills to learn so they can pass out from the one year service engagement and become wealth creators and not job seekers.
Also, for over half a decade the NYSC management started off a series of inhouse business Ventures that are so profitable enough that the scheme was contributing funds to the federation accounts yearly.
The NYSC also runs very lovely broadcast media outfits that the participants of the NYSC are the persons engineering the activities that go on in both the radio and television stations owned by the NYSC and most of the programmes are centred around promotion of responsible citizenship, lessons in national integration and patriotism. These are not things we should be advocating for an end but rather we should advocate the enhancement and expansion of such social services and such commercial businesses and productivity that we have been witnessing in the NYSC for some few years now especially since the then Director General Major General Ibrahim Shuaibu introduced most of these innovative ideas that the NYSC turned into workable frameworks.  Indeed, successive administrators of the scheme including the level headed DG that currently presides over the NYSC, Brigadier General YD. Ahmed, have maintained the culture of high productivity.
Even the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, Aminu Maida, recognised the above milestones when he recently commended the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, saying that the scheme has stayed true to the ideals for its establishment since 1973.
He noted that NYSC has played a vital role in fostering national unity by instilling values such as service to community, oneness and brotherhood of every Nigerian citizen regardless of cultural, ethnic or social leanings.
Maida stated this during his goodwill message at the opening ceremony of the NYSC legal officers workshop in Abuja on Monday.
“Legal Officers, be it in the public or private sector, are key stakeholders in any organization, being primarily responsible for the management of its legal affairs,” he said.
“A major part of this responsibility includes ensuring that the organization complies with relevant laws, policies and regulatory provisions. In order to ensure that this role can be performed effectively, the legal team must be knowledgeable about all relevant instruments guiding the operations of the organization.
“These instruments would typically include the specific policies and legislation which establish the organization as t well as other laws and policies, which impact on its operations/service delivery.
“Legal Officers should undergo training and capacity building to aid a firm understanding of the laws and policies setting up their organisations.
“Such programmes should also provide guidance on identification and understanding of stipulations of other relevant laws.
“It should be mentioned that management’s adherence to legal advice provided by Legal Officers is important as this ensures that the organisation is not adversely exposed to penalties, legal consequences such as lawsuits, and even reputational damage.
“The Commission once again commends the NYSC for organising this capacity building programme which will enhance the service delivery of its Legal Officers and by extension the NYSC as a whole.
“The entire nation has benefited immensely from the activities of the teeming population of youth corps members who daily add value to the operations of various businesses in various sectors thereby contributing to the growth of the economy.
“This valuable contribution is also felt in the communications industry and in the operations of the Commission as it carries out its mandate of the Nigerian communications industry.
“As duly noted by the NYSC, the Commission is a stakeholder in the data protection of citizens in Nigeria to the extent that it mandates its Licensees to protect the information of subscribers against accidental or improper disclosure (as provided in its Consumer Code of Practice Regulations, 2007).
“In the same vein, access to the personal data of subscribers is strictly regulated by the Commission as provided in the Registration of Communications Subscribers Regulations, 2022.
“The Commission and its Licensees are duty bound to ensure that subscribers’ personal data are safeguarded and cannot be released to a third party without the consent of the subscriber or the Commission.
“The Commission’s Legal Officers are charged with the responsibility of ensuring that these regulatory provisions on data protection of subscriber information are complied with and this is a typical example of ensuring compliance with statutory provisions.”
These commendations are exactly coming because the NYSC has inbuilt staying powers and the management continuously introduces new ideas in lune with global best practices and in total compliance with the enabling Act that set up the NYSC. Some of the erstwhile corpers as I had argued consistently,  have been doing very well soon after they passed through the NYSC.
For instance, a lady Who Used her NYSC stipends to Start Food Business has become very successful as narrated by some news outlets
⁠The lady said she started her food business when she was still undergoing her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). She noted that her business started with her ‘alawi’ has grown such that NYSC contacted her to work with her
According to Gladys Adija Makus, she saved her NYSC allowance and used it to start a business and her efforts have yielded great results.
She said she has been contacted by NYSC, noting that the body wants to work with her.
She wrote on Facebook: “We got a call from NYSC today, I am speechless. God has done it for me. The business I started with my NYSC Allowance savings in 2020 has grown into a full brand and they are hoping to work with me. “Who would have thought that the idea of saving my allowance to go into the food business was going to become the beginning of my breakthrough? Who would have thought that the crazy young corper who was carrying tomato on her head in Faringada market was going to go this far. God I am very grateful. This just had to be you.”
Cynthia Adaeze said: “Great Great Grace. Congratulations Dear. You will only know wins.” Rita Samuel said: “How una take save this money abeg? Be like life is more harder now. I can’t save nothing.”
Faith John said: “Congratulations ma’am! God, consistency and hardwork is all you need…. weldone.” Nnenna Okafor said: “Congratulations to you dear. Keep moving higher and higher.” Lady and her husband go for NYSC Meanwhile, a Nigerian lady and her husband, who are both graduates, were posted to the same NYSC orientation camp. The lady shared a video showing how they had fun during the NYSC camping period, which lasted three weeks. The video went viral and got many comments from social media users, some of whom said they were seeing such a coincidence for the first time.
Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA. 

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