Reform, not scrap NYSC

By Akindele Abdulqayyu Olalekan

SIR: The House of Representatives is currently considering a bill to scrap the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, scheme. In fact, the bill is already undergoing the second reading at the Green Chamber. The sponsor of the bill, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante, representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State, stated that his main reason for championing the bill is lives of corps members are at stake due to security challenges.

The bill reads in part “due to insecurity across the country, the National Youth Service Corps management now gives considerations to posting corps members to their geopolitical zone, thus defeating one of the objectives of setting up the service corps, i.e. developing common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.”

Of course, so many organisations, not limited to private ones alone, now take delight in using and dumping Nigeria‘s youths in the name of compulsory national service. Nevertheless, that is not enough to scrap the scheme totally. There are still some benefits in the scheme that can be exploited. I couldn’t agree more with Senator Shehu Sani in a recent tweet on the matter: “The NYSC should not be scrapped. It is needed now more than ever before. Many Nigerians have never known anywhere other than their home towns and university towns if not for NYSC. Its mandate should be expanded to give participants full military training in the face of insecurity.”

Many people including this writer will continue to thank the scheme for having exposed us to many opportunities in skills acquisition, rudiments of military training, meeting several great people, staying with people of different tribes, culture and tradition, etc. All these cannot just be thrown away without a serious thought.

Likewise, is it not worthy to ask ourselves what happens to those employed under the scheme? If I am not mistaken, the employees working under the scheme number in thousands.

I suggest that the NYSC scheme be revised and reformed instead. First and foremost, the military training should be given a wider scope. Trainees should be trained in self-defence especially in the face of security threats across the nation. Moreover, prospective corps members should still be posted to states other than their states of births and schools. This will, as originally planned, achieve the main purpose of creating the scheme – familiarising graduates with the cultures, traditions, values, etc of other tribes with the intention of fostering unity and tolerance within and among several diverse tribes and communities in the country.

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