Yes! NYSC Needs a Reform


Nurudeen Dauda


The Minister of Youth Development, Dr. Jamila Ibrahim has on Monday the 13th day of May, 2024 revealed that: "the Federal Government is set to embark on a comprehensive review, restructuring, and reform of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to meet the demand of the future. She added that the reforms will be centered on reviewing participants with an entrepreneurship mindset and making skills development a core of the programme. As part of the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund programme for 2024, I’m also pleased to announce that at least 5,000 corps members will have their entrepreneurial ventures funded with up to N10 million passing out".

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a compulsory scheme for graduates of the universities and polytechnics of not above 30 years of age as at the time of graduation. The scheme was established on the 22nd of May,1973. It was initiated at a time when the country’s peaceful co-existence was very "fragile" after the 30 months old civil war (1967-1970). The aftermath of the Nigerian civil war led to "distrust", "immobility", "grief", "anger" and "bitterness" across Nigeria.

However, the scheme has so many objectives, but its primary objective is to facilitate national unity among Nigerians. Fifty years after it creations there are at least three categories of Nigerians with different opinions on the scheme. There are those who want it "scraps". There are those who want it to be "optional", and those who want a "reform" in order to face the modern day challenges.

I belong to the category of those who seek for its reform. Permit me to state that it is long overdue that we need a reform in the scheme. For us to get it right we must look at our modern day challenges which is essentially graduates unemployment. Graduates unemployment is on the rise in our dear country due to the fact that about 300,000 graduates or even more from NYSC are on annual basis being added to the already "saturated" labour market.

It is sad to note that there are no jobs for our graduates in Nigeria for commiting no offence. There are equally no jobs for none graduates in the country. Is this not a time bomb for the country? Something urgently needs to be done to address the looming danger for the country. There is a popular saying which states that an idle mind is a devil's workshop. For us to get it right, the government must be alive to its responsibility.

It baffles me to note that the "bitter truth" is that our successive governments have done little or nothing on the issue of joblessness. The government has failed in its responsibility of creating the enabling environment for the private sector driven jobs to be provided to the  people. For us to get it right, it is high time for the government to be alive to its responsibility. The government must create the enabling environment for the growth and development of private sector investments in order to create jobs for the jobless youth in the country.

In my observation, in reforming the scheme the government has a very big problem to deal with. A greater number of our "graduates" and their "parents" consider government "jobs" as the only "real" jobs. A greater number of us do not believe in self-reliance or private sector driven jobs. However, it appears that the government is always interested in helping the graduates to be self-reliance. This has not worked so far!

There were several initiatives on how to solve the problem of graduates unemployment through NYSC scheme by the successive governments; such as: (1) NYSC's Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme, (2) Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES). An initiative targeted at empowering graduates of Nigerian Polytechnics and Universities with entrepreneurial skills for Entrepreneurship development, Economic development and Job creation, (3) Bank of Industry (BoI) interest-free loan scheme for members of NYSC under its Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF) programme, (4) NYSC Foundation a Non-Governmental, Non-Political, Non-Profit and Private Sector-driven Organization, founded by former corps members provides soft loans to entrepreneurs who are both ex and serving corps members , and (5) commercial banks loan for Entrepreneurship Development etc.

In my thought, for the government to solve the problem of graduates unemployment through self-reliance it must make the graduates first of all believe in and accept self-reliance as a means of livelihood. It is a question of ideology, and or Psychology. The government must device a "strategy" that will "change"the national "psyche" from the endless search for non existent government "jobs" to embracing self-reliance.

The National Orientation Agency and other relevant government agencies must embark on national orientation programs that will change the perception of Nigerian youth in order to move away from their continuous anticipation of non-existent government jobs to embracing self-reliance.

The reform should also involve the private sector. If the government is sincere it must work very hard in creating enabling environment for both local and foreign direct investments for Private sector driven jobs. We must get our economic, energy ,trade, and investment policies right.

However, the scheme is still very useful for the following reasons:(1) The bulk of the adhoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the conduct of elections at both national and state levels; (2) NYSC members filled in the shortages of teachers in secondary schools, polytechnics and colleges of education;(3) NYSC members who are doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, etc fill in the shortages or lack of medical personnel in rural hospitals and (4) NYSC members mobilize funds for community projects in rural areas etc.

Finally, our dear servicing corps members are facing the following challenges which need to be addressed: (1) Poor welfare; (2) Security concerns; (3) Lack of Health insurance; (4) Accomodations problem; (5) Life after service etc.

May God bless Nigeria!

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