On Saturday 22nd August, 2015, an impromptu circular was passed to all corp members to report at their respective Local Government Secretariat for a mandatory head count. It was said that failure to participate in the headcount might warrant an extension. This was an inconvenient move for corp members nationwide as it was a weekend and some of them were either out of town, or engaged with other activities. Pictures of two female corp members who had their weddings that Saturday went viral on social media; the brides were sighted wearing their wedding dresses at their respective local governments in a bid to partake in the compulsory census. Over the years, the NYSC scheme has been known to be very tasking and inconvenient and this has triggered a lot of misgivings about the scheme.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), was established in 1973 after the Nigerian Civil War, when a need to reconcile and rebuild the nation was identified. The aim of the compulsory scheme for all Nigerian graduates, including those who studied abroad, was to emphasize the spirit of oneness and brotherhood for Nigerian youths and to inculcate in them the spirit of selfless service to their community and nation irrespective of cultural or social backgrounds. After forty-two years of existence, Nigerians are wondering if the aim of NYSC has been achieved so far.
There has been a lot of questions as to if this scheme is really relevant to Nigerian graduates and to the nation at large. A hand full of Nigerians have lost their lives during their service year, some have lost their previous jobs because they had to go for NYSC, and a larger number, lost their dreams & drive all in the name of serving their nation. Recently, Nollywood actress Omotola Ekeinde, in an interview, expressed her opinion as to why NYSC should be scrapped out. “It’s a total waste of time and resources. I think all the time and resources should be channeled into something more resourceful,” she said.
Unfortunately, the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, says he believes in the programme as it is relevant for national integration and unity. Although most Nigerians including corps members second the motion raised by the actress, none has come to the fore to air their view. Weighing the coin from both sides, Nigerians should look at the benefits of this much-talked about national orientation programme as well as the downside of it. Should NYSC be scrapped out?
1. NYSC provides one year job experience for all fresh Nigerian graduates who partake in the scheme.
2. NYSC provides N19, 800 monthly wage to corp members.
3. NYSC feeds all corp members three times daily (although the meals are often inedible) for twenty-one days.
4. NYSC provides free accommodation for corp members for twenty-one days.
5. The scheme provides basic clothing and two shoes to all corp members.
6. NYSC trains corps members on basic entrepreneurship development and skills acquisition.
7. NYSC gives corps members the opportunity to impact on their environment through their respective CDS.
8. NYSC gives Nigerian graduates the platform to travel and visit states that they will normally not go to.
9. The National Youth Service Corps secured over N200 million bank facility for disbursement to corps members as loans to enable them start their businesses.
10. NYSC provides employment for thousands of staff who oversee and manage the organization. Without the scheme they will all be unemployed.
1. The NYSC program is archaic and the method of administration is rusty.
2. The organization is less likely to ever achieve its goals if it hasn’t after forty-two years of establishment.
3. NYSC puts a lot of strain, pressure, and inconvenience on corps members.
4. Most organizations, private and government-owned do not need extra staff, and so they reject corps members leaving them stranded and frustrated.
5. In places of primary assignments, Corps members are not given the opportunity to practice or function in their areas of specialization, except for doctors, lawyers and nurses.
6. N19,800 is barely enough to feed corps members for two weeks in a strange land where they know no-one and have no place to stay.
7. A higher number of corp members are ghost workers and do not serve the nation like the program was designed for.
9. NYSC does not provide security or/and insurance policies for corps members serving in danger prone communities.
10. One lucrative year of every graduate who participates in the NYSC scheme is either wasted or misused.
As mentioned early, the two sides of a coin has to be viewed before Nigerians can come up with a concrete conclusion as to if the National Youth Service Corps Orientation programme should be retained, or discarded. But no matter what the people say, the federal government has the final decision to make, irrespective of the unending complaints laid by corps members and other concerned Nigerians.