Do humans still need to breathe in oxygen? Yes we do. Do humans still need food and water for survival? Yes we do.
Do humans need interactions to build stronger, healthier, and better communities? My lords, yes we do. Do we need to sustain the NYSC scheme? Yes, we need to.
Nigeria has struggled very hard to heal from the ruins and the near collapse of our country ever since the 1967-70 civil war. As part of reparations post-civil war, the National Youth Service Corps scheme has served as a mandatory unification agenda to help the nation heal, and to grow together. Where people converge, and build together, love, is bound to thrive.
While I do agree that the NYSC scheme has derailed from its original intention, this derailment can be attributed only to individual contributions which have now snowballed into a national crisis. People redeploying for lazy, unnecessary, unscrupulous, and ingenuine reasons, Nigerians who talk about national growth but will use corrupt means to rework their service year to places they deem comfortable. How do we grow with that?
One of the powerhouse of the NYSC scheme is the mandatory Community Development Project which youth Corp members run in their various host communities. Imagine your lordships, that all corpers actually go to places where they were posted to, and contribute to the host communities, imagine how many out of school children will not be out of school, imagine how many developmental projects would have been executed, imagine how many more people would understand that the language a person speaks does not determine the level of love in their heart? Imagine how much more we would be able to trust ourselves as Nigerians?
The NYSC scheme is in dire need of reform. From the forced three weeks orientation camping under very inhumane conditions, to lack of adequate monitoring of deployment process, to corruption in Place of Primary Assignment selection, and so many other important areas. But deleting the NYSC itself? We should not even have to consider it.
Travelling to other parts of the country to serve the country has if not for anything else, helped people understand and trust other people from other parts of the country. Without NYSC, a man from Ebonyi would probably think all Yorubas live on pepper, while a man from Ibadan would think all Hausas carry daggers. Without the NYSC scheme, the only knowledge of other parts of our country would be hinged on hesrsays and reports, when we can experience the country as citizens, learning to live, to love, and to grow.
NYSC may have its shortcomings, but the scheme needs reform in order to maintain its harmonisation objective, rather than totally deleting it, for problems we have all contributed to.
To begin this argument, my lords, it is important to set a historical precedence. The Nigeria Youth Service corps was established in 1973 as a Nation building and harmonization medium between the estranged tribes that constitute the national population during the Yakubu Gowon led regime. Mostly, it is to abridge and rebuild the ruins of the civil war caused by the insensitivity of the factional leaders involved.
It is in the institution’s scope that it shall not be mandatory but required but It occupies a large consideration in seeking employment in Governmental openings and (some) private places which is an evident systematic enforcement of an unfavorable scheme. How is Nigeria any different from countries that forcefully conscript youths into military service?
I will attest to the fact that lifelong connections, romance and so on have been built courtesy the privilege of this institution, but it’s tragic yield has been dominant. Corp members have had to face unthinkable hardship and challenges, some of which result to existential and costly temporary dents in their lives.
In areas where riots are prevalent, it has been consistently reported that corps members are the first target being that they represent and wear the government’s shirt. Some die in the process of traveling to their camps and PPAs, some out of lack of prompt medical attention, or out of infections contracted in the poorly managed camps. Is it, in anyway, fitting to compensate for years of study by sentencing youths to a year of misery?
And, apart from the mortal and traumatic threats, this scheme is a Waste of national resources and a means for corrupt government officials to siphon money. Billions which could be pumped into infrastructural forays, or scholarship, or empowerment programs are being channeled into making uniforms and paying the allotted monthly stipend, and some getting rerouted into the pockets of officials.
It is 49 years since the civil war armistice and our nation is still on the lifelong mending of the proceeds of that war. How long does it take to build institutions, is it not more appropriate to stalk future occurrences by teaching history? Will making innocent youths travel to distant and unfamiliar parts of the country heal corruption and allocate what is appropriate to each region?
My lords, this scheme has long divorced and forgotten its harmonization motive and if it still does, it is that it Harmonizes youths with unthinkable struggle and suffering, that it Harmonizes parents with loss and consistent panic over the security of their wards.
I submit, my lords.
CONCLUSION: This column is about you, it presents the two sides of a case courtesy of two writers from different schools of thought. “Audi alteram partem” means hear the other side before passing your judgment. Take the gavel, make your decision and slam because you are the judge in this courtroom. Send reservations, comments and suggestions to +2348177522712, +2348107582225 or firstname.lastname@example.org