Celebrating NYSC at 40
As Nigeria is gearing up for the celebration of the country’s centenary come year 2014, following the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914 that gave birth country now called Nigeria, we should not lose forget to also roll out the drums to celebrate the 40th anniversaries of these three landmark initiatives of the then military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon.
The Ministry of Finance, with the Central Bank as the lead agency, should begin preparations for celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Nigerian currency of Naira and Kobo, the Federal Ministry of Transport with such lead agencies as the Transport Department, The Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO), The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) including the Motor Traffic Department (MTD) of the Nigerian Police Force under whose tutelage the Nigerian road traffic control was managed should combine strength and wisdom in celebrating the current driving system initiated 40 years ago, and the Federal Ministry of Youth Development as the mother ministry to be led by the agency, the National Youth Service Corps scheme office has the great task of showcasing a marvellously befitting celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of the scheme.
The National Youth Service Corps scheme was created in the effort to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war. The unfortunate antecedents in our national history that was characterised by distrust, sectionalism and sentiments hinged on tribe, religion and region gave impetus to the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps by the enactment of decree 24 of 22nd May 1973. The Decree unequivocally states that the NYSC programme 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.
Products of universities and other institutions of higher learning that are training grounds for future leaders, and as institutions that are first and foremost committed to the advancement of learning and knowledge as well as training of people for good citizenship, young men and women who would be the right materials for mobilization in the service of the nation through the National Youth Service Corps Scheme.
The scheme was so organized with a view to giving the youth proper guidance and orientation relevant to the needs of the country. Since the promulgation of the decree establishing the scheme in 1973, graduates of universities and later Polytechnics have been required to take part in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program for one year. This is known as national service year. It is the process of orientation to prepare the youth for the task of nation building ahead.
Corps members are posted to states far from their states of origin. They are expected to mix with people of other tribes, social and family backgrounds, to learn the culture of the indigenes in the place they are posted to. This action is aimed to bring about unity in the country and to help youths appreciate other ethnic groups.
The NYSC has brought about developments in some poor and needy communities. Corps members have undertaken community development projects in many fields including education, health, environment, water, agriculture, etc. This is in addition to their primary assignments that have brought services by virtue of their professional callings to their places of deployment at little or no cost to their beneficiaries. When monetised, it is indeed a quantum of substantial sum that the beneficiaries could under normal circumstances, ill afford..
Socially, the NYSC scheme is a bridge builder that has brought the various sectional and ethnic Nigerians together for better interaction and understanding. This often culminated into marriages regardless of religion, tribe or regional affinity.
The NYSC scheme has also served as one of the veritable tools in social mobilisation in most national programmes and events. One can vividly recall the enormous contributions and commendable efforts of members of the youth service corps during the census period. They have also come handy in the country’s electoral process both in voters’ registration and during elections.
Therefore, going by the positive impact of the NYSC scheme on the political and socio-economic life of the country, the scheme should not only be celebrated as it clocks 40 on May 22, this year, but it should be further strengthened and if need be, expanded to involve more youths in and outside school system.
Ahmad Tijjani wrote in from 80 Lagos Crescent, Garki I1, Abuja