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National Youth Service Corps

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NYSC : The NYSC is a scheme established by the government of Nigeria which involves inculcating university graduates into the labour market for a compulsory one year service to the nation except in special cases were individuals are exempted. The full meaning of the NYSC is ‘National Youth Service Corps.’.

Corp member/Corper: The formal and informal names respectively, given to the individuals involved( with the exception of the officials of the scheme). Orientation: introductory training given to corp members. Usually lasts for three weeks in camp away from friends and family. Orientation Camps: Short –term accommodations sited for the corps members to stay in during their introductory training.

NYSC Headquarters: Main administration office for the supervision of the NYSC scheme for the whole nation. Zonal headquarters: The zonal headquarters is the site were the zonal inspector resides. This is the administrative office for each NYSC zone. Z.I : Full meaning of this is ‘Zonal inspector’. This is a person appointed for the supervision of particular zones where there are NYSC camps. Area Inspectors: Officials in charge of particular areas in a zone. Assigned by the zonal inspectors. Corpers’ liaisons officers: Corps members appointed to serve as mouth pieces of the general corps members to the authorities. They act as ambassadors representing the corps members at the NYSC zonal headquarters. PPA: Full meaning ‘place of primary assignment’. This is an institution/establishment were corpers are posted to, to serve their mandatory one year service in. These are part of the many terms too much for mention.

1.2Background To Study
This article is meant to give a more expansive assessment to the four decade long argument surrounding the continued existence of the NYSC in Nigeria. It provides a view of the different lines of reasoning or viewpoints provided by both parties and the final assessment of the issue. 1.3Statement Of Problem It is no news that the NYSC programme is plagued with different problems, ones which have gone on too long to be ignored. When a scheme meant to unite the youth from different tribes/ethnicity leads to their deaths amongst many other problems which don’t seem to be resolved in the near future, attention is bound to be drawn to the topic ‘Has the NYSC truly outlived its usefulness?’. A topic which will be satisfactorily discussed. 1.4Significance Of Study

1.5Scope and Limitation
2 Literature Review

3.1 Introduction
This chapter delves into the history of the NYSC from the 1st formal mention of the programme to the decree which endorsed its existence , the structure of the NYSC , the purpose of establishment and the extent to which the purpose has been accomplished. 3.2 History Of The NYSC

The NYSC scheme was established by decree No 24 of May 22 , 1973 by General Yakubu Gowon’s administration. It was created in a bid to reconcile, reconstruct and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil War. The unfortunate antecedents in our national history gave impetus to the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps. Decree No.24 which formally established the NYSC stated that the ‘’NYSC is being established with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity.

Nigeria, still a developing country and plagued by the attendant problems upon the condition of under-development namely; poverty, mass illiteracy, acute shortage of skilled manpower( and the uneven distribution across the nation of the available manpower), woefully inadequate socioeconomic infrastructural facilities, housing, water and sewage facilities, roads, healthcare services, inefficient communications system piled with other many intractable problems which were further compounded by the burden of reconstruction after the civil war set for itself fresh goals aimed at making it more united, dynamic and self-reliant . 3.3 Purposes For Establishment Of The NYSC

Purpose/Objectives Of The Scheme
The objectives of the National Youth Service Corps Scheme are clearly spelt out in Decree No.51 of 16th June 1993 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 raise the moral tone of the Nigerian youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievement , social and cultural improvement. To develop in the Nigerian youths the attitudes of mind , acquired through shared experience and suitable training. Which will make them more amenable to mobilisation in the national interest. To enable Nigerian youths acquire the spirit of self -reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment. To contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy. To develop common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration. To remove prejudices, eliminate ignorance and confirm at first hand the many similarities among Nigerians of all ethnic groups. To develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Nigeria.

The equitable distribution of members of the service corps and the effective utilisation of their skills in area of national needs. That as far as possible, youths are assigned to jobs in States other than their States of origin. That such group of youths assigned to work together is as representative of Nigeria as far as possible. That the Nigerian youths are exposed to the modes of living of the people in different parts of Nigeria. That the Nigerian youths are encouraged to eschew religious intolerance by accommodating religious differences. That members of the service corps are encouraged to seek at the end of their one year national service, career employment all over Nigeria, thus promoting the free movement of labour. That employers are induced partly through their experience with members of the service corps to employ more readily and on a permanent basis, qualified Nigerians, irrespective of their States of origin.

4.1 Introduction
THE National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme will be forty years old in 2013. And still after nearly four decades many still think it is time the programme was scrapped. This may surprise and alarm all those individuals who strongly believe and see the scheme as a worthwhile mechanism for the promotion of national assimilation and unity. Over the past four decades , there have been many arguments which have been taken up by many citizens including various well known and established scholars. Arguments which have always been two-sided, some supporting the continued existence of the programme, the others breathing down the necks of the authorities for its existence. Few of the very many points discussed over the years will be mentioned in this chapter. 4.2 Arguments Supporting The Continued Existence Of The NYSC 4.3 Reasons Cited For The Calls For The Scraping Of The NYSC Programme Some might find it hard to say , but the many others who don’t recognize the usefulness of the scheme will say that the nobility of the intentions and purposes for setting up the scheme seem today, in their view, ridiculously over-romanticised.

The talk about all those sentiments of how the scheme was intended to foster and facilitate national unity will not be rehashed. The conclusion is that Nigerians who support the continuation of the scheme and would not have it scrapped come in four different categories: One, starry-eyed Nigerians who are unable to conjecture that the scheme is due for scrapping or , in the alternative , due for a comprehensive and total overhaul; Two, Nigerians who still believe that such tokenistic programmes are unavoidable for promoting the ever elusive national unity ; Three, state governors and their officials who, instead of creating employment for youths in their states , would rather have the cheap graduate labour the scheme provides annually; Four , NYSC officials and their contractors for whom the scheme is their own means of accumulating crude wealth and thus harbour a mortal fear of losing their avenues for state robbery. Some of them have even accused anyone who ever raised the issue of scrapping the scheme as being subversive , unpatriotic and such other epithets that our military dictators characteristically employed to put their ‘enemies’ out of circulation. 4.3.1 The Jeopardy Of The Safety Of The Corps Members

The programme is in dire need of reform for it to completely guarantee for each corps member, a safe, healthy , enabling/fulfilling environment. This of all other reasons is the most underlined in the calls for the scraping. The corps members are exposed to all kinds of dangers and risks. The corps members might unknowingly take up accommodation in a house or compound owned by dangerous and wicked people, sometimes they find themselves posted in hostile environments. The insecurity came fully into light after the post-election violence against the corps members , mostly those residing in the north. There were cases where even after seeking refuge in a police station, the corps members still couldn’t escape their gruesome and very untimely deaths.

The programme now offers a fertile ground for rape, prostitution, and murder. On November 3, 2009, two female corps members were raped in Kano. The unfortunate duo was raped at gunpoint to a state of semi consciousness by a gang of 14 young men at their place of primary assignment in Fagge area of Kano State. One of them is a native of Lagos State while the other victim hails from Oyo State. The brutal assault, we were told, took place at the home of the female corps members, which was situated at the official ‘Corpers lodge’ of Adamu Vice Secondary School, in Fagge. This lodge is located within a walking distance from the secretariat of the Fagge Local Government Council and of a similar distance from the Fagge Divisional Police Station in the heart of the state capital. This says a lot about the height of insecurity in the nation and relates with the national hysteria about the pervasive insecurity for people living in many Northern states where the Boko Haram terrorism has become an intractable menace to all. 4.3.2 Poor Quality Of Accommodation: It is not news that the quality of treatment which corps members experience in the camps are nothing short of shocking.

There is an acute shortage of water supply at the camp while the pit toilets at the camp are in bad states, forcing about most of the corps members, NYSC employees and others to answer the call of nature in nearby bushes. Some teachers in schools also express concern over their use as NYSC camps, as this disrupts the school calendar with the pupils sent on forced holidays. Some corps members lament that the state government and NYSC officials were treating their wellbeing with uninterested levity. One of them quoted in an interview said: “You can see the kind of environment they have dumped us. In a civilised country, I don’t think a dairy farmer can use this place for his animals. The attitude of the authority compelled some of our colleagues to redeploy to other states. Those who knew of the conditions here beforehand do refuse to come at all if posted here. The situation here, my brother, is very terrible. I never knew that in spite of the oil money they claim they are sharing to state governments, some states are still backward like this”. 4.3.3 Corruption Within The Ranks: The programme has been said to be the trademark of corruption. Tales about permanent youth corps members who never pass out and that of corpers popularly called ‘ghost corpers’ who are never seen but always have their names signed are usually replied by sighs of disapproval . Embezzlement , nepotism , favouritism etc are now part and parcel of the scheme.

Babatunde Olanrewaju wrote “ the federal government is totally blind , selfish and corrupt; all they care for is what their bank accounts read after each National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) programme is completed. That is the reason they won’t ever scrap NYSC. Just take a trip to any state headquarters, I can bet you that every day is Christmas in there, you need to see how they share the loots which would have been made available to corps members during orientation programme. Do you see the cars the NYSC officials drive, Many of them have up to six expensive mobile phones, So why on earth would they want NYSC scrapped?’’. The NYSC camp life, as everyone knows, is simply hell for the corps member, owing largely to corruption by NYSC officials.

For not only are the corps members camped, in most cases, under inhuman conditions – that is, with little or no basic facilities as drinkable water, good kits and accommodation, etc – they are served food which, in decent climes, should not even be served prisoners. Again, while the corps members are supposed to live in their host communities for a year, in reality, less than 30 per cent of those mobilised actually serve the country: the rest return to their home states, only returning to the local government of service during the quarterly screening exercise. The Area Inspectors get 50 per cent or more of their monthly allowances for giving them this ‘ patriotic’ cover up. Indeed, the NYSC Area Inspectors and Zonal Inspectors live like kings. The NYSC directorate has done nothing concrete to curb this malaise, because as the corps members say ‘‘it is staffed mostly by crooks and tyrants forever dazzled by naira notes’’ 4.3.4 Under-utilization Of Corps Members’ Potentials:

If the government still thinks the scheme is serving a serious purpose in terms of giving a year of semblance of employment before they are thrust into the reality of the Nigerian labour market where the ratio of available labour to willing employers is dismally low , then it needs a rethink. Year in year out , most corps members do not get a place to serve. They are posted to places where their services are either not required, or cannot be paid for. So , they wander around looking for any place where they can be accommodated. In cases like this , the NYSC sends them to state ministries which corps members themselves have dubbed “Ministry of No Work.” They simply loiter around and wait for the year to pass by. In short, the government that forces them to serve the nation for a whole year fails to provide any real opportunity or challenge for these set of youth. Under this there is also the case of corpers who are under-employed in light of their qualification and the jobs given to them in places of their primary assignments. An example is where a first class law student is turned into a mere errand boy by his employers. This leads to decline in potential. Some other reasons are;

Unavailability Of NYSC Infrastructure
Indiscipline Among Both Officials And Corps Members
Inefficiency Of The Management, etc.
5.1 Conclusion
5.2 Summary
If the scheme means well enough to get them trained, especially in these times when the few employers are forever asking for years of experience, then the government should invest more than lip service in training the youth sent for compulsory service. It is important to train youths to love their country and be willing to serve her all the time but patriotism or ethnic integration can never be forced on anybody. Loving Nigeria and the various peoples it is blessed with, can never be imposed on anybody’s psyche. To serve Nigeria should not be by force or imposition or else it loses meaning. 5.3 Suggestion

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