Thursday, 3 September 2015

Role of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) on National development


The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was the brainchild of General Yakubu Gowon who was Nigeria’s military leader during the Nigerian Civil War.  The war was an exposé of the major challenges facing the young state especially issues bordering on tribalism, ethnicity and regional identity.  Nigerians were yet to fully accept the  realities of the European imposition called amalgamation.  They saw themselves as Igbos, Yorubas, Hausas, TIVs, Kanuris etc and not as Nigerians.  This prompted the establishment of a program which would enable the youths to understand, learn and appreciate the cultures, traditions, philosophies and religions of people from other parts of the country.  Thus the National Youth Service Corps was birthed in 1973.

Since the creation of the NYSC, youth corps members have been deployed to one state or the other for a mandatory one year service to the country after graduating from tertiary institutions.  After a three-week orientation camp where the corps members are made acquainted with the NYSC programmes and aspirations, the corps members are then posted to their places of primary assignments (PPA) which could be schools, hospitals, ministries, departments, companies, firms, etc.  The corps members were to use their various PPA’s as a launching pad to better interactions with the people in their locality.  With interactions, corps members were able to understand the yearnings of the indigenous people and help them achieve this yearnings.

Since the discovery of oil, Nigeria has slowly and steadily drifted away from an agricultural products exporting country to a mono-economy dependent on oil.  The resultant laziness and inability to diversify the economy ultimately led to the stealing of public funds which Nigeria has struggled to grapple with up till this day.   The youth corps members have, with the trainings, seminars and workshops they had in camp, been equipped with the mental and academic capacity to sensitize, inform and educate other Nigerians on the dangers of corruption.  With Community Development Service (CDS) projects like the EFCC and ICPC through which corps members carry out sensitization workshops, Nigerians are made better aware of the evils of corruption and can fight it to a grand halt.

According to Professor Wole Soyinka “corruption is an hydropus.”  A hydra headed monster and an octopus – with its various elements and manifestations in the words of the Nobel Laureate.  “When you fight corruption, it fights back at you.”  The fight against corruption has been paid lip service over the years and even when the fight had been genuine, corruption just refuses to die.  In a country where over 60 percent of the population live in abject poverty and the upper class are among the richest people in the world, where the poor are fighting hard to join the wealthy in amassing wealth, corruption is sure to thrive.  It is, therefore, a more realistic approach to fight corruption first by breeding individuals to reject corruption before a more collective approach.  It is through this approach that corps members who are the next leaders of the society are hereby trained to stem corruption by identifying its dangers themselves before taking the fight to the society.  In reforming themselves, society is well and truly reformed.

The National Youth Service Corps has through its skills acquisition programmes called “SAED” trained corps members on how to develop special skills which could generate income for them.  With this knowledge, youth corps members enter the society as intellectual entrepreneurs and by achieving their potentials, society is transformed.  America and the United Kingdom were forged to greatness by the industrial revolution in their countries where millions of small industries turned out into a huge machinery of companies and industries.  The NYSC is therefore the biggest hope of Nigeria in transforming from a services dominated country into a modern industrialized nation like China, Brazil, USA and Japan.  With SAED, the ball is already in motion and with the current sprout of small and medium industries powered by youths, Nigeria’s tomorrow would be greater than its yesterday.
Nigeria is a huge country of many ethnic groups, two dominant religions, three strong regions (even if these regions have been debalkanized) and hundreds of diverse languages.  It is in thise diversity that should lie our strength.  

The United States of America was a colony of many ethnic groups: African, European and Asia, various cultures, different tribes and languages.  It overcame these differences and developed into a strong modern nation driven by nationalistic passion.  The NYSC since 1973 has educated Nigerian youths, the next generation on the need to promote everything Nigerian and to develop that nationalistic streak that could only help us overcome our differences.  With the posting of corps members to mostly states that they have never been to – Northerners are posted to the South and vice versa, young Nigerians are able to dispel the negative notions and perceptions they hitherto held.  Friends from the North make friends with friends from the South (some friendships last for life), inter-religious and inter-tribal marriages are struck and so on.  Tribal, religious and ethnic sentiments which have been Nigeria’s bane over the years can truly be expelled with these pro-Nigerian NYSC programs.

Youth corps members have also been given the opportunity by the NYSC to embark on personal community development services.  Youth corps members initiate personal programmes based on the needs of the people in their place of primary assignments.  This programme has resulted in the establishment of schools, building of libraries, construction of water projects, power sources, provision of agro-allied services, construction of public toilet facilities etc.  The program helps to develop infrastructures in the society and to develop the creative capabilities of youth corps members.  It also helps corps members, as young Nigerians to have a sense of belonging and responsibility to the Nigerian nation. Most youths feel left out and uncared for by the Nigerian state, this program gives youths the chance to get involved, get interested and to channel all their passion, energy and drive into something humanitarian and noble.

While there have been calls for the scrapping of the National Youth Service Corps with the argument that it is no longer achieving what it was established for, the gains of the program far outweighs its negatives.  For millions of people today, the National Youth Service Corps gave them the first opportunity to see another ethnic people from a different point of view.  This new found perspective has endeared a Nigerian from one ethnic group to another ethnic group and fuelled the passion in serving that group better and pursue future programs for their betterment.

Today, ask any Igbo or Yoruba corper serving in the North, or a Northerner serving in the South, to describe how they feel about their respective states of youth service, and what would follow would be glowing positives.  That in itself, is the first development Nigeria nees.

No comments:

Post a Comment