by Wale Giwa
The NYSC was established by law on 22nd of May 1973. The sole aim of the scheme is to ensure “proper encouragement and development of common ties amongst the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of unity”.
According to Decree NO.51 of 16th June 1993, the aims and objectives of the NYSC can be subsumed as follows:
- To inculcate discipline in Nigerian youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry at work, and of patriotic and loyal service to Nigeria in any situation they may find themselves.
- To contribute to the accelerated growth of the National economy.
- To develop common ties amongst the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.
- To enable Nigerian youths acquire the spirit of self-reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment.
- To develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Nigeria.
These are few of the many aims and objectives of the NYSC. However, this scheme has experienced several backlashes over the years. Many Nigerian youths see this scheme as a complete waste of their valuable time. Some see it as a scheme that has outlived its usefulness. The reason for these backlashes can be attributed to one simple fact; most Nigerian youths are completely unaware of the usefulness and purpose of the NYSC. Perhaps a solution to this, is making the NYSC a compulsory General Study Course (GST), in all the Higher learning Institutions in Nigeria.
When the value and purpose of a thing is unknown, it will be undermined. To fully understand and appreciate the NYSC, it is expedient to delve into the history of Nigeria.
The NYSC was inaugurated by the former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, immediately after the Nigerian Civil War or Biafran War. The reason for this is due to the volatile internal situation of the Country, after the war. Something needed to be done to prevent the Country from imploding. Also, National unity at that time, was dangerously low. The Nation was gradually descending into further ethnic chaos. Given these societal ills, the viable solution proposed by General Gowon, was the inauguration of the “Three R” Policy (Reconstruction, Reconciliation, and Rebuilding). To further ensure the success of this policy, the NYSC was also inaugurated.
The sole purpose of the NYSC is to instill into the minds of the Nigerian Youths, the spirit of oneness, unity and service to the Nation. And since the youths are one of the most important elements in any country, bringing the focus on them seems plausible. Also, to ensure the proper dissemination of it aims and objectives, the compulsory one year NYSC was divided into three programmes; Orientation Course, Place of Primary Assignment(PPA), and Community Development Services (CDS). These programmes are bent on achieving the goals of the NYSC.
Furthermore, in collaboration with the NYSC, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), introduced its Emergency Management Vanguard (EMV) programme. In this programme, corp members are used in voluntary services of promoting social awareness on healthcare issues, environmental sanitations, the dangers of self-medication, and so on.
Another dose of nourishment is the fact that the NYSC is also a solution-oriented scheme. An example of this, is quite evident in the plans of the NYSC, currently headed by Brigadier General Sule Kazari Kazuare, to deploy corp members to Farms. Nigeria is currently facing a painful economic recession for the second time in her history. It is learning the hard way, what it means to be an oil-rich State. One of the solutions to this economic recession, is a diversification of the economy and a return to the farm. Hence, deploying corp members to farms as their Place of Primary assignment (PPA), proves beyond all doubts that the NYSC is committed to the accelerated growth of Nigeria’s economy, as seen in Decree No.51 of 16th June 1993.
Consequently, the NYSC has its ups and downs. The scheme has been plagued with accusations of high handedness by soldiers in their orientation camps, rejection of corp members from their Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), death of corp members due to the negligence and ignorance of soldiers at the orientation camps, and so on.
However, it is the duty of the federal government and the Director-General of the scheme, to look into these accusations, so as to keep the ball rolling in the quest for National Unity. In view of this, the compulsory presentation of Certificate or Report of Medical Fitness by the 2017 Prospective Corp Members (PCM), is a show of good faith towards that direction. Nevertheless, soldiers in their respective orientation camp sites, should be tasked, oriented and educated on the dangers of abusing the rigorous camp activities given to Corp members.
As loyal Nigerian citizens, the unity and prosperity of the Nation should be our priority. The sole aim of the NYSC is to promote unity and service to the Nation. To achieve this, corp members are posted to states outside their states of origin, within the Federation. The scheme simply serves as a pillar of unity. Hence, if Nigerian youths are clamouring for it eradication, then they are simply pulling down one of the pillars of the Nation’s unity.