By Oluwafemi Agagu
“Youths obey the clarion call;
Let us lift our nation high;
Under the Sun or in the Rain;
With dedication and selflessness;
Nigeria’s ours, Nigeria we serve”
The National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) anthem is filled with ‘choral’ lyrics which every graduate is spiritually and physically committed to in the process of service to the nation.
The NYSC scheme, a once in a lifetime experience which every young graduate yearns for, was established on May 22, 1973 by Decree 24 to promote unity and develop ethnic ties among youths in various states of the federation.
The thrills, frills and funfair usually associated with the programme, most especially the orientation part of it, makes it enjoyable and inspiring for participating graduates from all parts of the country.
While some see it as an avenue to explore other people’s cultures and traditions outside theirs, others see it as an opportunity to recreate, catch fun and make some savings for future use.
In fact, the desperation of some young graduates concerning NYSC makes one wonder what is actually in the scheme for them.
There have been instances where some generate fake call-up letters, while others falsify their age just to be enlisted for the scheme.
However, away from the glorious and storied past of the scheme, the programme is presently searching for its relevance. It has actually deviated from the original purpose it was meant to serve.
It is now almost of little or no relevance to the economic aspirations of the country.
Lately, the interest of corps members are not adequately protected, as it was in the past.
Many public/private firms that used to accept corps members have either downsized in financial fractions, thereby rejecting corps members on the basis of not being able to provide accommodation and/or frequent and steady stipends for the corps members. To say the scheme needs an overhaul or speedy review is stating the obvious.
Like most of our national projects, the NYSC is fast declining in its usefulness and values.
A lot of corps members now struggle with the problem of rejection. It is of course, sad to note that the crop of corps members that are billed to reconstruct and rebuild the nation, are now idle with unutilized potentials, especially in their own field of interest.
So bad is the situation now that some people are calling for outright scrapping of the scheme, arguing that it has outlived its purpose and outgrown its usefulness. But then, must we now throw away the baby with the bathe water?
Many also argued that despite the ‘strength’ of the scheme and the huge ‘economic food’ the country has, a lot of graduates with NYSC certificates still wander about unemployed.
Accordingly, for any government to be termed serious about the development of its dear country, youth development must be a core programme of such government and such youth programme like NYSC cannot be undervalued as a programme that can bring the necessary change in the country in solving the problem of unemployment and fighting against terrorism in the country.
Sorry is the case, because, iп recent times, the scheme has failed woefully in meeting the expectations and necessities for its establishment.
However, the programme need not be scrapped but restructured to solve some of the present challenges of the society, ranging from unemployment to terrorism, among others.
The government should also try to make the NYSC scheme an avenue to recruit young fresh graduates into different ministries, parastatals, departments and agencies, as well as provide loans for corps members who have the spirit of entrepreneurship in them.
Therefore, the clarion call today is on our national and state leaders to rekindle youths’ interest in every area of employment and empowerment.
It is a call for making the National Youth Service scheme very relevant by repackaging and transforming it into a scheme that enhances job security, political growth and mental development in the country, thus supporting the growth of our national economy. It should be a worthy call!
God bless Nigeria!
God bless the youths!