By Ebere Orji
The NYSC scheme was designed to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war.
This hapless precursor in Nigeria history gave rise to the National Youth Service Corps by decree No.24 of 22nd May 1973 which stated that the NYSC is being established “with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity”
Further challenges in the country like poverty, mass illiteracy, shortage of highly skilled manpower and poor communication system, etc, necessitated the program.
Prof. Oka Obono, lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State in his lecture on “Strategies for Sustaining the NYSC in a Changing World”, proposed to the NYSC top management during the retreat in Suleja that Nigerian corps members should be deployed across the 16 member states of the Economic Community of West African States Corps.
According to him, the benefits of Nigerian corps members being deployed across the West African sub-region would encompass the vast reduction of unemployment among the youths as well as encourage regional exposure.
In his lecture, Obono stated “Expand operations to the West African region thereby reducing internal graduate unemployment and reducing pressures on the Nigerian labour market.”
The NYSC Director-General, Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim remarked that the retreat served as an assessment platform for the appraisal of the scheme’s operations by the top management.
A release by the NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Mrs Adenike Adeyemi stated that the agency will consider the suggestion.
Prospective Corps Members react to the release by the NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations:
“We are in an era of globalization. It is a good idea for Youth Corp members to be sent to West African countries. Given the population of Nigeria, Nigeria is increasing. And its population keeps increasing. As we all know, Nigeria is not an economically buoyant country. There are not many opportunities in Nigeria for educated people. Even though there are opportunities, they are not much when compared to the country’s population. There are economic and political problems in Nigeria. There are issues of corruption and other instabilities we face. Thus, allowing Corp members to serve in other West African countries is good. Some people argue that serving in these other countries is not the same as serving in our fatherland but obedience to this same fatherland that is sending you out is still part of ‘Serving our fatherland’. Secondly, most of us in Nigeria do not know Africa well. Right here in Nigeria there are certain places like the North where their culture differ so much from that of others like those in the East and West. In the same vein, other West African countries differ in culture and practice. It will help us understand Africa better and relate with them as fellows. If you look at the average Nigerian, all we know about is what is happening in countries like America, Europe, China, no one pays attention to what is happening within West Africa. So it is a good proposition that I would accept at any given time.” Ekenwa Chidera Credo
“I support the posting of youth corps members to other countries. I believe that it will help us get more exposure and know about other countries. Some people may even get better jobs out there. But on the other hand, if they are posting, they should mind the kind of countries they post people to. It is not every country that they will post someone to, to avoid lots of disadvantages.” Maduka Stephanie
“Personally I think it is a great idea because I believe that if you want to really live, you need to get experiences, have adventures. You do not just stay in your comfort zone. The idea if realized will give us the opportunity to explore other countries and see how they live. Who knows, you might find what you are meant to do in that country you are posted to. Even if you find out that you do not really like the country, you can redeploy. But at least you would have gotten an experience after your 3weeks camping. You would have gone out of your comfort zone. Speaking on security issue, it is still the same security problems we are having here in the North and in some other states. So if one can endure 3wks in the North, then there is no reason why you cannot endure 3weeks in another country. The truth is that we do not know what might favour us. So it is better to experience it all. God might bless us through those countries we will be posted to. But then, if you cannot endure, you can always redeploy after your 3weeks camp experience.” Nworgu Blessing Ijeoma
“Aside the issue of insecurity, the idea does more good than harm, if implemented. It will be a strong means of enculturation which will make West Africans get more and more acquainted and unified amidst international diversity. Especially if it is not only Nigerian corpers who are to go to other West African Countries, but having all other West African Countries shuffle their youths to Nigeria, on a platform similar to NYSC. It will do good to the economy and collective survival, given that youths will be able to explore other countries and observe what is positively obtainable in those countries. It will also foster International marriages between West African regions, and enhance international tolerance and co-existence. I really do see more good than bad in this agenda.” Onah Chidera
“I am not against posting Corpers to other West African Countries. But what of language barrier? Because it is only Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra leone that are English speaking countries in Western Africa, while the rest are French and Portuguese speakers. How can one cope if posted to a French speaking West African Country?” Ugwu Arinze
“I see the introduction of other West African countries into the Nysc Scheme as a positive move. From the promotion of culture in other regions of exposure to other cultures; a wider range of job opportunities for the Corpers; it also helps the government with good bilateral trade within Africa, and promotion of peace and unity in the continent. I can go on and on to mention the advantages of this law, if implemented. Although on the other hand, the implementation would require more funds and so it needs to be well drafted and funded if it would eventually come into existence, especially in the area of more allowances for the Corpers and building of standard Nysc camps in those regions in West Africa.” Clement Idoko
“I think it is a good idea if there is no ulterior motive to this new agenda of the government. If posted to good West African countries with good standard of living, it will favour the Corpers in terms of getting better job opportunities and better living conditions. But it is best if the governments do not strictly involve youth corpers in countries with worse security issues than Nigeria, in order to preserve our lives, and not give the country a further bad name or image than it already has.” Nwokocha Chinwendu Christabel
“I would say that there are different sides to the coin as regards this. The idea has its good sides and bad as well. For example, if one is posted to a country that has a good standard of living, a youth can survive because you would be able to engage yourself in some businesses, and this will aid growth. The bad side of the coin is if you are posted to countries that have a worst living condition than Nigeria. Unless these countries can appear as options on the NYSC portal during registration, just the same way states in different parts of Nigeria can be selected, then it is very good. This is so that people will make their choice. But if otherwise, that is, if a person will just be posted anywhere NYSC officials decide to, then it is not a great idea. But whereby an individual is given room to redeploy, then it is also a good idea.” Uwaoma Esther
“Honestly, I think it is a welcomed idea. I like the idea because it gives us more opportunities. It helps us to travel to other countries, mingle and associate with them. It is called enculturation in Psychology whereby you learn about other people. You learn their ways of life, learn new things, meet unique persons and make friends. So that when you have any kind of dealing with them in the future because you have a firsthand knowledge of them, you will be confident in working with them because you have experienced them. So, it’s a very good idea indeed. But there is a problem. The problem here is that, judging from the angle of Nigeria government, we have a government that is incapable of catering for their citizens. They are not organized to an extent that one can boast of them and say that they can execute optimally, such duties. This is Nigeria and you and I know how our government treats us. We know how they handle our case. So I think Nigerian government should not go about this the normal way they usually do. As lovely as the idea is, it is not an idea that they will wake up today and come up with, and tomorrow they just implement. They should plan this very well. It is not like the normal NYSC program running in the country today which we are familiar with. If anything happens to any of us in any state that we are posted to, at least there will be one or two persons to help us out. So, if we are going to a country we are unfamiliar with, the government should provide for us in many ways. Firstly, they should increase the NYSC allowance of those going outside the country to maybe N100, 000, which is not even enough. But it should be increased based on the tax rate. At least, Corpers should still be able to save out of the allowance they are given because they do not know the cost of living in that country. At least with an amount between N100000 to N150000, a Corper will be able to manage. It is not the N33000 that is being paid here in Nigeria that does not even enable Corpers to feed. If one does not like the food that is being cooked and want to maintain Nigeria food, it would be costly. Here in Nigeria, the government does not provide finance for housing for Corpers that are sent to states with no Corpers’ facility. Secondly, they should provide shelter for the Corpers. It is not the kind of case we have here, whereby a Corper will be sent to a place where there is no Corpers’ lodge. And the Corpers will become stranded. In fact, before they get to the country they should already know that such provisions have been made for them. They should already know where their lodge and every other thing they need is. Nigeria has to work with the government of those countries to achieve this. We all know how Nigerians are treated most times. So we cannot be sent just anywhere that we would not know what our fate will be. The government should work greatly towards this. Fight for their Corpers and not send them there to be stranded. Those countries where we are shouting that there will be opportunities, yes there may be. But the government must plan this very well. Thirdly, the government should take care of our transportation fare both to the country and to move to and fro within the country in the space of time we would spend there. Even if we understand our own Nigerian situation, they should not gamble with Corpers’ life and well being outside Nigeria. So, these things are paramount. I cannot dispute the fact that the idea is a great one, but the government must make these essential provisions available. If they are not considering these facts, until they are well planned and organized, they should forget about it. But, this idea is a great one.” Ebere Chiamaka Gift
“For me, it is a welcomed idea,though it also has its shortcomings or disadvantages so to say. For example, places like Ghana is amongst the fast developing states in West Africa and being posted there will give Corpers the opportunity to explore the environment and work in different sectors. Another West African state I know a little about is Niger Republic and I think it’s amongst the poorest states and being posted there would offer more disadvantages than advantages. I think they lack water and good roads. Considering our observance of their citizens here, you will know that the country is nothing to write home about. I do not know much about the other West African states, their economy and how they operate. But then, unless the Nigerian government and those working with the NYSC would select states that would be favourable to youth Corpers from the West African countries. If not, then it is better we are left in Nigeria and face whatever it is. At least we are used to our own country, rather than going to an unfamiliar place only to have regrets.” Asogwa Sochima Ruth
“It is a great idea if only the government truly have our good at heart? I mean, hope it would not be used as a wicked plot by the government to either waste the lives of some of the youths in a way of reducing the population, or kidnapping some. I do not trust the Nigerian government only because they have never ever all through history gained our trust. Practically untrustworthy! Sorry, but true to say. If this is implemented, it would be the first time a thing like this would be happening in the history of Nigeria, so expect us to panic and have doubts. But the government can make concerted effort to clear our doubts. So, if it is for the good of Corpers, please there are adequate provisions that the Nigerian government must put in place: Corpers should not be posted to any of the countries that have a worst living condition than Nigeria, except if satisfactory provisions will be made for us- Corpers. No countries that are experiencing draught, very poor supply of electricity and food scarcity should be considered. No countries going through a far worse inflation of commodities prices than Nigeria. No countries with extremely poor housing facilities. No countries with insecurity. No countries with far great social vices than can be managed. No countries with far greater employment challenges than Nigeria. I mean how can the poor help the poor? Nigeria is a very wealthy country, a gold mine to explore. A country where all her citizens should be able to live well, unfortunately, has been made a mockery. Now, we can be called Poor. What a laugh! A painful laughter. Nonetheless, it would be a great idea if the Corpers will be “well” taken care of. It would offer opportunities to the youths to explore other parts of Africa. It would improve and advance International relations. It would offer opportunity for example, to a Zoologist to have access to countries with other species of animals than what can be found in Nigeria to research on and make advancements in the field. A Naturalist would have the opportunity to explore nature outside Nigeria. Great researches can be done in a lot of fields. That is, if those countries can offer great advantages to certain fields of study. It would be a learning and training platform. Some persons will do well in the world of Business. People who are willing however, and who have the capacity can go to countries with poor living conditions to carry out humanitarian projects. But please, enough room should be given for redeployment. There should be an increment in NYSC allowance for youths who will be posted to West African countries, in order for them to survive. It is part of serving our fatherland. But please, even as the corps members wholeheartedly serve our fatherland, our fatherland should have our interest at heart, provide for us, fight for us and protect us with your lives. This is what fathers do. When my father is with me, I fear no harm. Please, do not send us off to the slaughter or to struggle miserably. Do not put our lives on the line because by accepting to go to another country, in fact, just by accepting to go to another state in our own country- Nigeria, somehow, we have entrusted our lives to the hands of the government- our Fatherland. I pledge to Nigeria, my country. To be faithful, loyal, and honest. To serve Nigeria with all my strength. To defend her unity. And uphold her honour and glory. So help us God!” Orji Godgift