(EDITORIAL) NYSC- Lets go back to the drawing board!
Aljazirahnews recalls that the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, was established by General Yakubu Gowon military administration in 1973 to foster unity among Nigerians, and social integration along the ethnic divides of the Nigerian nation.
Through the scheme, corp members are posted to cities far from their states of origin. This action is aimed at bringing about unity in diversity in a country adjudged to have over 250 ethnic tribes.
Graduates of tertiary institutions are required to take part in the NYSC programme for one year.
This is known as national service year. Its advantages a hybrid pronged.
The programme has also helped in creating jobs for many Nigerian youths over the years and has facilitated inter-cultural, marital, political and even business relationships.
Aljazirahnews notes sadly that the scheme is presently under scrutiny due to increasing doubts over its usefulness and security concerns. Many have called for its abolishment, while others say it should either be made optional or the programme be restructured.
Many believe the NYSC scheme, which was established mainly for integrating Nigerian youths, has outlived its usefulness and is no longer relevant.
Issues such as postings, delays in mobilization, difficulties in getting exemption letters for those not eligible to participate in the scheme, logistics and the unwillingness of employers to absorb corps members posted to their organizations after service have made the scheme unattractive to a large extent.
Today, this lofty ideal is fast waning and the scheme has been met with stern criticism by Nigerians.
It is against this backdrop that Aljazirahnews clamors for its re positioning and restructuring for maximum effect which was the initial burden of the initiators.
There is need for the federal government to go back to the drawing board, redesign it and help the programme achieve its objectives.
Aljazirahnews noted with horror a few weeks earlier when ballot was being cast in various institutions due to paucity of funds to select those graduates who would be going for the service this year.
We are however happy that the President Muhammadu Buhari immediately waded in by including the NYSC as one of the benefiting establishments from the virement request for urgent cash sent to the National Assembly last week.
Also the lives of the nation’s youths are no longer safe in the places of their primary assignment. This criticism is borne out of the fact that hundreds of corps members have been brutally maimed and killed in the regions they were posted to serve due to religious, ethnic or political violence perpetuated by the extremist terrorist groups, armed robbery attacks, auto accidents or illness.
For the above reasons, it will be wise for every young graduate to serve in her state of origin, many have argued. This idea of viewing corps members as ‘strange people will stop.’ The incessant killing of innocent corps members will reduce drastically if not entirely.
The current NYSC posting policy is geared towards developing sectors such as rural health, primary and secondary education; rural infrastructural development and agriculture. Hence many corps members are posted mainly to primary and secondary schools regardless of their disciplines.
Is this really a sound idea, Aljazirahnews asks?
As it is at present, many corps members are opposed to this policy because it makes them redundant in certain organizations.
The unwillingness of many employers to retain corps members posted to their organizations and the pittance paid, sexual harassment allegations are yet other reasons Aljazirahnews calls for a review of the scheme.
We opine that any private organization that requests for corps members must sign an agreement to keep them (if there are available spaces) after the service year if they perform well and equally treat them well while serving.
We urge the Federal government take a holistic look at the scheme, looking at modern trends and work at improving the scheme by reducing the adverse effects and limitations that have given the scheme the wrong impression.
We also plead with the government to redesign the NYSC scheme to make it more youth-friendly and provide adequate security that will encourage parents to be willing to release their children and wards for the year long, intensive service.