The Federal Government, at long last, have agreed to review the N4,000 online registration fee imposed on prospective corps members by the National Youth Service Corps. The Minister of Interior, Abba Moro, on Monday, October 20, said.
While speaking on ChannelsTV’s breakfast programme, Mr. Moro said the negative reactions that have trailed the policy has now necessitated a review.
“Giving the reactions of Nigerians, whether it (the N4000 mobilization fee) is right or wrong is not the issue. It is whether it is acceptable,” Mr. Moro said in response to a question on the propriety or otherwise of the policy.
“From the reaction we are getting, it is not unacceptable. I’m sure the authorities involved will review the situation.”
The Director, Corps Mobilisation, Anthony Ani, had recently announced that corps members would have to pay N4, 000 to download their call-up letters online.
Mr. Ani explained that the N4, 000 online registration fee was introduced so as to stop fresh graduates from traveling back to their various schools to pick up the letters.
But many Nigerians rejected the policy, describing it as exploitation of graduates.
The representative of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement, Samson Itodo, told PREMIUM TIMES, the fee was unnecessary.
“I think it’s quite unfortunate that NYSC can ask jobless youth, who just came out of the university, to pay N4000. What is this country doing to young people? What is the country doing for its citizens? Why do we have to pay for technological services? It’s totally unacceptable.
“It shows that we have an insensitive administration that does not have the interest of the Nigerian people at heart. What has the NYSC done to enhance the potentials of people who are willing to design applications free of charge? The explanation given by NYSC is so flimsy and is totally exploitative, which is not acceptable to us and we think they should reverse it,” Mr. Itodo said.
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani, expressed his disappointment over the issue, calling it a criminal act.
“It’s part of the corruption in this country and I call it extortion from fresh graduates who struggled to see themselves through school. They do not have a sustainable reason to ask the corps members to pay N4,000; people who are jobless, who just came out of the university. I call it criminal extortion and we are not in support of it and it must be stooped,” Mr. Rafsanjani said.
Mr Suraj Olanrewaju, a human rights lawyer, said the NYSC should have a functional email through which call-up letters could be sent to graduates.
“What of students who reside in the state where the schools are located? What excuse do you have for those? If I may ask, are the students complaining? If they pay the so-called N4000, will they not still travel back to get their certificates or will they not still travel for the primary deployment? As long as we fold our arms and keep quiet, this criminal act will continue to go on,” Mr. Olanrewaju said.
In its own reaction, the Nigerian Labour Congress [NLC] accused the NYSC of plotting to turn the mobilization of corps members into a money-making venture.
“We certainly find it morally wrong for the authorities to turn this initiative into a money-making venture,” the statement by the NLC General Secretary, Peter Ozo-Eson, said.
“It is the more in congruent and unacceptable because it seems the authorities now want to take advantage of the weak and the vulnerable,” the statement said.
The NLC further stated that as a general rule, any technology that seeks to increase the cost of production is not worth the effort.
“In the instance, we have reason to believe that the online registration initiative helps to reduce both administrative and bureaucratic costs which NYSC had borne all along,
“Embracing technology should reduce operating cost, time and wastage,” it said.
The NLC urged the management at the NYSC to review their steps by reversing the policy of charging corps members N4, 000.