By Waliu Adeyeri
So the Green Chamber has moved to scrap the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). First thing first, it should be clear that the plan to scrap this compulsory one year scheme has been a subject of debate in the floor of the two chambers of the federation about a decade ago. Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante is just so lucky to raise the issue again at a time almost everyone is fed up of being patriotic to the nation. No thanks to the failure of our leaders in areas of curbing insecurity.
So, no doubt, making insecurity as the major reason to extinguish NYSC will definitely meet virtually everyone’s interest. Who would want to risk his or her life in the course of serving a father land that does not prioritise his/her own safety?
Why was NYSC Established?
In a declaration he tagged: “No Victor, No Vanquished,” the scheme was established in 1973 by the then Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, as a platform to revamp the national unity which was almost lost to the 1967-70 Civil war.
“The scheme was established to effect the 3Rs of Rehabilitation, Reconciliation and Reconstruction of the nation then, in the face of insecurity and disunity. Ironically, what the scheme set out to overcome since 1973 now turns out to threaten its existence today.”
It must be well emphasised that the NYSC is the only platform where which Nigerian youths rekindle their love for the nation. An act we can never learn anywhere, even in our schools (except para-military schools) and the community.
How Does NYSC Rekindle Patriotism
The 3-week orientation exercise is an avenue where the scheme rekindles corps members’ patriotism. Almost all the activities carried-out during this exercise were targeted at rekindling corps members patriotism.
Through the Morning Meditation: The early morning meditation remains one of the means through which the scheme revives the love for the nation. Corps members are taken through moral topics, nationalism, and other topics that revive the love for the nation.
The Lectures: Many corps members attend lectures to take a nap, some hide their faces under their sunshades or caps to sleep till the end of the lecture. Meanwhile, all that is said at this gathering are germane to nation building, personal development and social development.
Social Activities (Drama Presentation): I don’t know of other camps but at Zamfara Camp where I served, the Cultural and drama presentation were aimed at reviving the lost glory in the nations cultural artefacts. A platoon of diverse culture comes together to pick a tribe to imitate its cultural heritage. I was glad to see an Igbo youth decorated in a Hausa attire. Also, I was touched by some dramatic performances that preached nothing but peace, nationalism, and unity.
WHAT ARE THE CRITICISM AGAINST THE SCHEME?
It is a Waste of Time for the Fresh Graduates: For those who have the plan to make judicious use of the one year, it’s never a waste of time. It is a year some corps members carry-out Community Development Service (CDS) to boost their selfless service profile.
Some corps members see it as means for self development by taking some professional courses, some use the opportunity to plan their lives (school stress never allow that), some get to meet the love of their lives (funny as it may, but it’s sacrosanct to some people’s life), some get to create a lifetime connection and network, these reasons and many more reveal the fact that it’s never a waste of one year.
The Scheme Limits Corps Members to the Class: Many argue that virtually all corps members are posted to schools, despite their field of study. It’s important to note that the presence of corps members in schools is not just to teach. It is majorly to motivate those rising stars. It’s an opportunity for you to enlighten them about all that you have learnt. As a civil engineer, nothing stops you from delineating some myths about your profession. You can organise extra-curricular activities that would help the students that wish to study the same profession.
Also, being in a school does not prevent you from carrying out a CDS project in your field. It’s until you open your mind that you will understand that in every place you meet yourself you can make a way for yourself.
NYSC is Outdated: I believe this should be the argument we should be having. The need to rejig the activities in the scheme to accommodate emerging technological developments. Let’s have a program that would welcome technology advancement within the year. This could be in the form of a CDS Group. Let the group be saddled with designing solution-driven projects for their host community.
Also, a CDS Group on Economic Sustainability can be introduced, where corps members would learn the dynamics of the economy in real life settings, saddled with tasks to design solutions to economic issues in their host community.
Enough of unproductive CDS ‘campaign against this’, ‘campaign against that.’ Saddle the groups with visible and noteworthy projects.
NYSC Sends Prospective Corps Members to Distant/Unsafe Lands: In as much as many people do not like travelling and may not be able to cope in foreign land. But would this be a matter of discourse if the scheme was sending PCMs to countries such as Canada, US, London, etc.?
Many Nigerian youths today do not want to leave their comfort zones, that’s why our experiences are usually clouded. We won’t read everything in books nor on social media. There would be a need for us to explore some parts of our country.
Inarguably, insecurity is a major concern today in Nigeria. The FG should assure PCMs of their safety before sending them to distant lands.
If FG cannot assure Nigerians of their safety throughout the service year, then it should mobilize PCMs to safe places. Instead of revealing its failure by scrapping the only platform where Nigerian youths rekindle their patriotism.