Since the National Youth Service Corps scheme has failed, it is better at this stage to introduce a two-year, compulsory military service to ease or create a momentary plateau or valley in the number of unemployed youths in the country. In addition, those who undergo the military programme would be more disciplined and resilient in coping with the challenges of a futureless nation.
According to the NYSC website, the scheme was created in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian civil war.
The unfortunate war in our national history gave impetus to the establishment of the NYSC by decree No.24 of May 22, 1973. It states 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”.
Four goals were envisaged: a) a united, strong and self-reliant nation; (b) a great and dynamic economy; (c) a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens; and (d) a free and democratic society.
In the beginning, the scheme was, no doubt, the best programme for Nigerian youths. Integrating the country after the civil war was not just a necessity but an ideal rhetoric for unity. From 1990 to date, the NYSC scheme has become another failed project, just like the failed National ID Card scheme.
Two factors are largely responsible for the failure of the National Youth Service Corps: (1) uncontrollable indiscipline which has given birth to intense corruption; and (2) lack of employment or meaningful future after the service.
The NYSC certificate became a prerequisite for any future development of a young graduate; he or she cannot be employed without the youth corps discharge certificate. Those responsible for the issuance of such a certificate at the NYSC secretariat in Abuja quickly realised the importance of their office and started cashing in on it.
For a fee, NYSC discharge certificate is available for anyone, university graduate or not. Some youth corps members could sleep at home all year round and obtain a certificate at the end of the year, along with those who actually took part. This new development created disenchantment in the system. The scheme, from then on, lost its core meaning.
It started failing a few years after its establishment, when influential Nigerians, especially those in government, decided that their children would not be sent to rural areas. Children of the affluent were exempted from serving in “other communities” of less importance. They were to be given suitable locations and jobs of their choosing. Such one-sided favouritism created discontentment within the rank and file of the corps community.
The last blow to the youth corps scheme was the killing of those employed to serve in the election process a few months ago. There was no justifiable reason for such callous act, and those responsible are yet to be brought to justice. It is obvious that future deployment of corps members would be based on the perceived hostility or risk factor of the state or region.
Simply put, the National Youth Service Corps cannot yield any meaningful result henceforth. The scheme is obsolete and has become ineffective.
It’s time to introduce a compulsory military service scheme for the young men and women coming out of our universities. The two-year programme with create, among other things, the basic discipline necessary to move this country forward.
With overblown unemployment, a two-year scheme with moderate remunerations would be attractive. It will also relieve the system of jobless youths on the street, at least for two years.
A few months before the terminal date of the service year, the Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, Nigeria Customs, Immigration Service, Road Safety Corps, Civil Defence, banks and other potential employers could apply to the scheme to evaluate, recruit and employ.
Remunerations must be adequate to support the current economic pressure. These young people must feel secured, at least within the two years of the programme.
The nation would derive two advantages from the scheme: gainful employment, at least for the two years, and acquisition of the basic necessary discipline to curb the huge laxity and lawlessness in the country. The scheme also serves as the recruitment centre for any would-be employer.
Many countries have a required compulsory service period for all males. They are required to serve on active duty for a period of time, get their basic training, and then be ready to serve if called up:
Compulsory service, usually of young men and women of a given age, for a set period of time, commonly one-to-two years. In the United Kingdom and Singapore this was commonly known as “national service”; in New Zealand, at first compulsory military training and later national service.
Compulsory service, for an indefinite period of time, in the context of a widespread mobilisation of forces for fighting war, including on the home territory, usually imposed on men in a much wider age group (e.g. 18-55). (In the United Kingdom this was commonly known as “call-up”)
Primarily, these young people would be gainfully employed by the federal government, learn some discipline in this total institution and become more productive to the society.
Since unemployment has become cancerous in Nigeria, this is the only way to relieve the system of excessive job demand pressure. It is becoming extremely dangerous to have young and educated people roaming aimlessly on the streets in search of what to do.
– by Capt. Daniel Omale
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