NYSC at 50:  insecurity hindering success of scheme

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NYSC Director-General Brigadier General Yushau Dogara Ahmed

By Femi Akinyemi

The current state of insecurity in the country has been described as a major obstacle to the success of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). This was disclosed by Professor Rotimi Animasahun of the Department of Counselling and Human Development Studies, University of Ibadan, on the occasion of the celebration of 50 years anniversary of the scheme at the Multi-Purpose Hall, NYSC State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan, Oyo State Capital.

Animasahun, who spoke at the anniversary lecture on the theme: ‘NYSC: Five Decades of Fostering National Unity and Development’, said one of the main objectives of the scheme, which is fostering national unity and inclusion is being hindered in recent times. The Professor said the scheme which was established due to a deficit of unity among Nigerians, with the aim of encouraging solidarity, love and harmony is in grave danger due to series of terrorist activities, kidnappings and ritual killings. 

“After the Nigerian civil war in 1970, there was a need to foster national unity among Nigerians. So, the NYSC was established.  NYSC was to encourage solidarity, harmony and love. It was based on the need for cohesion and national unity. The scheme had the objectives of promoting citizen participation, building democratic institutions, acquiring a spirit of self-reliance and shared experiences, and raising the moral tone of Nigerian youths, among others.  But all of that is now heavily threatened by the spate of insecurity in all parts of the country. Terrorism, kidnapping and ritual killings have dealt a huge blow to the scheme,” he said. 

 Professor Animasahun said that despite the known challenges of the NYSC programme, it has recorded a series of successes since its inception. “Looking away from the challenges, Nigerian youths are now exposed to modes of living with people in different parts of Nigeria, as well as being more accommodating and religiously tolerant. There is also the part of the strength of service and humility, as is the motto of the scheme. Other successes include the likes of sharing ideas to strengthen bonds and friendships, inter-tribal marriages, breaking tribal, religious and ethnic bias, as well as getting skill acquisition opportunities.” 

Animasahun said that NYSC at 50 is really a huge landmark, worthy of celebrating. It has done much good for Nigerians, strengthening ties among the various people. “Without being immodest, he said, “NYSC has helped to revitalize affinity among diverse nationalities of the Nigerian nation and bolstered the values of respect for the culture, religions and customs practised by each of the ethnic groups.” 

NYSC passing out parade

The professor explained that the program’s scope needed to be expanded to take care of the ever-growing number of youths mobilized for national service. He noted that the NYSC had introduced laudable initiatives including Community Development Service (CDS) and Skills Acquisition Entrepreneurship Development (SAED), emphasizing that starter packs should be provided for corps members to curb the rate of unemployment in the country. 

“The government should be able to provide for these teeming youths. Indeed, widening the scope of NYSC will go a long way, especially in rectifying the issue of unemployment rate in the country. There should be a sort of provision for corps members passing out of the scheme. Many of them would want to further their education. Let there be a provision in this regard to encourage them. Some may want to venture into business. Let there be adequate funding because the youths are the strength of the nation.”

Earlier, the Oyo state NYSC coordinator, Mr Odoba Abel said he was proud to be identified with the scheme, as it had contributed massively to fostering national unity and development. Odoba, who was represented by Assistant Director, Corps Inspection and Monitoring, Mrs. Olusesi Olabimpe, said the scheme was growing stronger and has contributed immensely to nation-building. He said: “Despite the challenges which are known to everyone, we have recorded so much success, too numerous to mention. This scheme has been a blessing and has led us to live in unity and oneness.”

One of the high points of the occasion was the presentation of awards, with heads of security agencies, corps employers, traditional and religious leaders, staffs and corps members gracing the occasion. The 50th anniversary celebration aimed at highlighting and showcasing the scheme’s accomplishments and achievements over the years, especially in youth development and its contributions to the socio-economic growth of the country.

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