Everyyear, Nigeria’s tertiary institutions churn out graduates with ease. After graduation, it is expected of every graduate to serve his or her fatherland on a mandatory one year service. In lieu of seeking and securing employment for themselves, graduates embark on National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). According to the NYSC official site, it was stated in clear and unequivocal terms that “the NYSC scheme was created in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war.…” Decree No. 24 of 22nd May 1973 states that the NYSC was established “with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity.” Hitherto, the NYSC has been a fulfilling and resourceful innovation for graduates who were able to utilize their service year to maximum effect.
During the service year, there are four cardinal programmes, namely: Orientation Course which ushers graduates into the service year, progressing to primary assignment and Community Development Service (CDS), also known as secondary assignment. The last of the programmes is “Winding-up/Passing-out.” Every corps member must successfully pass through the listed segments in order to qualify for passing-out at the end of the service year.
However, the service year for graduates in Nigeria has been a recurring decimal. Many youths now see the service to their fatherland as a “waste of time and resources,” claiming that a year in service is akin to being “unproductive.” On 7th March, 2017, Batch A corp members were given their certificates for serving their fatherland for one good year. Their passing out is a thing to rejoice on and a step towards the right direction in their various callings. For serving Nigeria in various Places of Primary Assignment (PPA) shows a great sense of responsibility and that means they are ready for the task ahead- even in this economic austerity we are facing. Truth be told, there are no many jobs out there that graduates will cherish to opt for so as to make a good and desirous living. We are faced with a hydra-headed monster of unemployment rate in the country- the scourge of mass unemployment is a Pandora’s box as the nation tries to solve it.
Essentially, the primary purpose of the scheme is “to inculcate in Nigerian youths the spirit of selfless service to the community, and to emphasize the spirit of oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians, irrespective of cultural or social background.” The nation’s graduates are countless; therefore,they join the existing “bandwagon of unproductive labour.” Albeit during service year, few graduates are fortunate to be retained after the one year programme. Apart from the PPA, there can also be other job openings in the community or state you serve. But, the menace of unemployment still remains a conundrum to be solved.
With the increase in unemployment rate, the National Bureau of Statistics disclosed that the country’s unemployment rate has risen from 13.3 per cent in the 2nd quarter to 13.9 per cent in the 3rd quarter of 2016.This was contained in the Unemployment/Under-employment report for 3rd quarter of 2016. This implies that the number of the unemployed in the labour force increased by 553,331 persons.
It is quiet disheartening to know that the unemployment report covered persons from “aged 15-64, whom during the reference period were currently available for work, actively seeking for, but were without work.” To explain further, the economically active population or working age population (persons within the ages 15 and 64) increased from 106.69 million in second quarter to 108.03 million in the third quarter. This statistics is no doubt saddening, considering the avalanche resources the nation is blessed with.
Going by the aforementioned disclosures, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme should go beyond mere integration of cultures or traditions, payment of monthly N19,800- which is not enough in this dire period, opportunity to visit and reside in another state apart from your state of origin among other reasons. It is not an overstatement when you hear from youths, most especially, corp members when they advertently or inadvertently utter statements such as “the scheme is a waste of time, after graduating, you will go out and start searching for job where there is none;”“the scheme is enriching some corrupt government officials;” “I am not ready to serve Nigeria for one year while my mates are making money. I have been serving Nigeria since birth.
What else?” among other utterances.
To be candid, few graduates have the nous to come up with ideas that will galvanize them out of the so-called myopic “white collar jobs” to being erudite entrepreneurs. The N19,800 stipend is nothing to write home about. It is poor, discouraging and demeaning. In contemporary world and advanced climes, youth scheme like the NYSC will be promoted and assisted by empowering the youths in order to be great leaders in the foreseeable future and develop better in all ramifications.
You will be gob smacked to see graduates after their NYSC ruminate on what to do. Many of them are found wanting in creativity, making use of the available and immediate opportunities they have within their ambit and catapult themselves to greatness. You will be abashed to see them lamenting, complaining and dejecting that the government has been a debacle since they were born. Youths need to stand up, capitalize on the present economic challenges of the country and develop themselves to world class leaders that are ever ready for the nation’s problems.
In this wise, the Director-General, Brigadier General, Kazaure of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and other stakeholders need to widen the scope and endeavour to enshrine a more dynamic and pragmatic vocational training into the scheme. This will ensure that corps members all over the country learn, develop and be self-dependent after the scheme. It will interest you to know that there are plethora stories of former corps members who were able to utilize the opportunity given to them by acquiring various skills and vocational training during the service year. Nigeria and the youths must rise up to the present tasks. We can only solve our problems when we are ready, resolute and dogged towards our challenges. Therefore, a nation like Nigeria with vibrant and viable youths needs not be told that we can only solve our problems by taking destiny into our hands. Doing so will take us to our dreamland and compete strongly with other countries of the world