There has been a sudden upsurge in the debate over the years as
to whether the NYSC scheme which was introduced by the Gen. Yakubu Gowon led military administration in 1973, after the civil war, to help in uniting the nation is still relevant or not. While many are of the view that the scheme had outlived its usefulness and the purpose for which it was introduced had since been defeated and hence called for the total and outright abrogation of the entire scheme, others on the other hand argued that the scheme is still very much relevant? Whatever side of the argument one fact that both side unanimously agree on is that the NYSC of today is not the same as that of 1973 and some of the facts are clear for everyone to see.
The idiosyncratic choice of corps members to redeploy to another state is enough to send a message of discontent to the government that the scheme is actually losing touch with theintended goal- promotion of national unity.
The NYSC scheme of today like many other national schemes has been deeply contaminated with endemic and insidious corruption. It has turned into an avenue through which some few cabals make money through dubious means and inflated contracts.
Many Nigerians have continued to raise concern over the years as to the actual amount being budgeted for each corps member throughout the year mandatory service. The management should expeditiously make the figures available as Nigerians have the right to know. The NYSC Zonal/Local governments inspectors are now are now smiling with the spate of abscondment in the NYSC as they have found a lucrative business through which they extort huge sums of money from those corps members that abscond. The reason for the abscondment may be due to ill health, insurgency, marriage and even laziness.
No matter the reason, what matters to the Zonal/Local government inspectors is just what will go into their pockets.
They chargecorps member an amount ranging from
N5, 000 – N11, 000 monthly for clearance while some corps members are even forced to forfeit the entire N19, 800 monthly allowances. That may be why many new faces appear on day of collection of certificates and one continues to wonder where they have been in the year, who has been signing their monthly clearance form.
Another worrisome factor is the overdependence on the corps members who have no teaching qualifications, aptitude or even any teaching skill by schools especially those in the rural areas. It is worthy of note that the incumbent Director General of the NYSC, Brig. Gen. Johnson Olayumi in an interview in March 2015 acknowledge that they had cases where corps members are made acting Vice Principals in some schools/colleges because there are no classroom teachers
This may be reason why some people argue that rather than reduce unemployment, the scheme increases it.
According to them, the employers of labour like schools and have found corps members as source of cheap labour.
This argument may be right, verifiable and substantiated considering how some private schools use corps members to teach their students several subjects only to pay them a paltry amount of as low as N2, 000 monthly.
Despite the the shortcomings of the scheme, we must in the spirit of justice and fairness give it its due. The NYSC has succeeded to some extent in instilling some salient societal norms and values in corps members and has made appreciable impact on the social and cultural spheres of life. It has also succeeded in giving the youths opportunity to know more about other parts of the country. It is now 42 years since the scheme was introduced in 1973. Question is whether the NYSC scheme has succeeded in bringing about the national unity and integration that it was primarily designed to achieve.
Many corps members circumvent the scheme because they believe they are redundant and not productive in their places of primary assignment (PPA) and they therefore prefer to bribe the officials to abscond only to be fraudulently issued with completion certificate at the
end.I wish to call on the Director General of the NYSC, Brig. Gen. Johnson Bamidele Olayumi to ensure discipline among his staff and anyone found wanting especially among the Zonal/LG inspectors be severely dealt with to serve as deterrence to others.
President Buhari should set up a committee to review the activities of the NYSC scheme and come up with feasible recommendations that will help in reforming it to solve the growing rate of unemployment among the youth.