The overall impact of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme came under sharp focus during the just conducted 2015 General Elections in which corps members played a significant role in the huge successes recorded.
In recent times, the dream of the founding fathers of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme came under serious threat with the rising insecurity in Northern Nigeria. This prompted the call by major stakeholders that Corps members should henceforth be posted to their states of origin to avoid being killed in their host states.
However, this scenario seems to negate the ideals of the scheme which is based on national cohesion, socio-cultural and political integration. Despite the situation the NYSC scheme had found it-self today, the way to go is to strengthen its structures and provide enough security for the officials and members of the scheme to enable it realise the set goal of national unity and cohesion.
We recall that the NYSC was established in 1973 as one of the schemes to actualise the 3Rs of Rehabilitation, Reconciliation and Reconstruction of the country by the then Military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, in line with his popular declaration of “No Victor, No Vanquished,” following the end of the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-70.
The NYSC Scheme amongst other objectives was aimed at re-uniting the people of Nigeria, thus fulfilling the principles of integration of the Gowon administration because of the bitter and bloody ethno-political colouration of the civil war which the country witnessed from the 1960s.
As a matter of deliberate policy, the scheme made it a point of duty to among other things, inculcate in corps members, a sense of discipline, unity, patriotism, integration and dignity of labour. To achieve this, the organisation reserves the right to post prospective corps members to any part of the country, other than his or her own state of origin, except such a corps member is married with proof.
Over the years, the NYSC Scheme has helped to unite so many Nigerians even as it has also served as vehicle for cultural, traditional, religious and ethnic cohesion in the Nigerian nation. This is moreso when marriages were contracted and conducted amongst Muslims and Christians between different tribal spouses etc.
Also, with the passage of time, the NYSC Scheme like so many organisations in Nigeria had been beset with a lot of misfortunes, calling to mind, the issues of blind looting of funds meant for the feeding of corps members by the Scheme’s former managers who eventually were sent to jail after being found guilty of criminal breach of trust. SOME powerful Nigerians also, have been engaging in untoward activities with regards to the scheme, by influencing their children’s postings to choice areas and states, thereby defeating the dreams of the founding fathers of the scheme.
The gradual erosion of the NYSC dream began with the promotion of negative ethnic cards, by the military junta which openly promoted mediocrity high above competence because of tribal and ethnic considerations. This went a long way to promoting disenchantment to the extent that parents and graduates of tertiary institutions alike started losing fate in the NYSC Scheme.
Worse still, is the mutual distrust existing amongst the various ethnic principalities that constitute the geographical entity called Nigeria, especially with the rising wave of ethnic- religious riots sweeping through the country, particularly the northern geographical region of the country in view of this development, especially with corps members becoming targets of violent religious attacks by rioters, the NYSC Scheme started losing followership and support from Nigerians.
The last straw which brought about the present state of disillusionment with the NYSC Scheme was the massacre of some corps members posted to some northern states as Borno in 2010. This incident was one-too- many as there was wide spread condemnation of the act, because life is so precious that its sacrosanct nature must be respected.
Corps members are on national service for their fatherland, and so must be treated with utmost respect, and not to be massacred on the altar of religion by any sect.
The NYSC, rather than being scrapped, should be further strengthened, especially in a period such as this when true patriotism, peace and harmony are required to forge a cohesive and united country.