Why NYSC Must Be Reformed Or Scraped | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why NYSC Must Be Reformed Or Scraped

Posted: Mar 11, 2016 at 10:50 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Asikason Jonathan


National Youth Service Commission (NYSC) has often been touted as one of the unifying and integrating mechanism of the post civil war Nigeria. How far and well this unification and integration is going, is what many Nigerians do not fully know about.

Begin an integral part of Gowon’s three Rs, NYSC was established as a healing balm to the civil war that devastated Nigeria.
The decree No. 24 of 22nd May 1973, established NYSC “with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity.”

Corps members in their various places of primary assignment are left to the mercy and protection of God. Anybody at anytime can kidnap, rape or even kill any corps member and go Scott free. Even in the darkest moment of 2015 presidential election, OYO (on your own) were the case of corps members. The only message from the Director General was that corps members should run to any nearby police station. In place where I served, I felt more secured in the confines of my lodge than in the unfenced small structure called “Lapai police Station.”

NYSC and Corruption
NYSC is corruption personified! It is visible in all level of its operation. During our camping period in Paiko , we use to analyze the politics of camp management. Even when one cattle is budgeted for each platoon during the camp fire night, NYSC officials would share one for three platoons. Will I talk about postings or the issue of ghosts corps members? These are the economic sphere of NYSC officials. No wonder they ride in all sorts of expensive cars. During those registration days in camp, I remembered that my friends and I were struggling to maintain the queue in a hot Niger weather, when two beautiful girls from an air conditioned jeep came along. Under the guidance of one of the NYSC officials, they went straight to the man handling the registration and got registered. I protested but my protest was of no effect. Throughout our camping days, I took it upon myself to search for those girls but could not see them. I was later told by a friend that they were special corps members who are not made to suffer with us in this camp but to serve in their father’s duplex.

NYSC and Corps Members’ Welfare
One important question that Nigerians should be asking NYSC is this: How do you take care of corps members? Corps members receive monthly federal allowance of nineteen thousand eight hundred naira which is reduced to nineteen thousand five hundred naira after bank charges. Many states pay varying amounts to corps members even as some do not pay at all. Have you ever thought of how corps members sustain themselves with such paltry amount?

NYSC and Elections
The greatest insult that I received as a corps member came from INEC. Could you imagine that after sleeping in an open field, fighting with mosquito, protecting the electoral materials and presiding over elections in a rowdy polling booth like 001 Ebbo Ruku (ward 1) Lapai local government that INEC decided to pay me nine thousand naira? “If they had killed you in that election, you would have died because of nine thousand naira.” This Was the comment my mother made to me on hearing this story.
The sad story of corps members killed by Haramites of Boko in the aftermath of 2011 presidential election is still fresh in our memory. And what I experienced in 2015 presidential election shows that INEC didn’t learn anything from the sad event of 2011. Anyway, there must be five million to pay the bereaved parents, this is utterly inhumane.

Argument for NYSC
Any person arguing that NYSC is moving in the right direction must either be an NYSC staff (or his relation) or a government teacher in the North.
Acquisition and Entrepreneur Development(SAED) programme as the reasons to continue the scheme. According to NYSC code, corps members are forbidden to use their allowance for CDS but the locals and private establishments do not know – or usually feign ignorance of – what CDS is all about. Corps members in the various CDS groups are forced to pay certain amount for the group project- this money is coming from nowhere but corps members allowance.

How To Savage NYSC
The only way to continue with NYSC scheme is to reform it and in that wise, I made the following recommendations:
1. Two weeks of physical training
2. Three months of intense skill acquisition program and ICT training (which will be practically inclined)
3.Three months of agricultural program( covering fishery, poultry and other aspects of animal  husbandry)
4. Payment of one million naira to each corps member at the end of the program.

I never regreted my service year for it brought me to a thoroughfare where I got practical knowledge of the schisms that exist between the dominant ethnic group of this country.
Leaving Lapai to Enugwu-Ukwu my hometown, I whispered the following question to my mind: This is 43 years of NYSC, Why have we not achieved a melting pot?