In Nigeria, a graduate is almost ineligible for employment in governmental establishments (and most private establishments) until they have completed the mandatory one year service or obtained the relevant exemptions. Graduates who are exempted from the service include those above the age of thirty and those with physical disability. During the service year, it is expected that the Corps members have the opportunity to learn the cultures of other people; some sort of cultural diffusion and assimilation. The Nigerian Government set up the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) as a scheme to involve Nigerian graduates in nation building and the development of the country. Doubtless then, the National Youth Service Scheme plays a significant role in the Post-graduation ‘life’ of many students.
As much as many people have passed through this scheme and many desire to pass through it, it would not be surprising to find out that so many people are not aware of when exactly, this ‘all important’ scheme was established. Simply the point of this write up.
The Establishment of the National Youth Service Corps
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was established on 22 May, 1973. The aim was to create an avenue for the reconciliation, reconstruction, and rebuilding of the nation after the civil war. It was established based on decree No. 24 that stated that the scheme was created “with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity”. The Modus Operandi was such that Corps members (participants in the National Youth Service Scheme) are posted to states other than their state of origin where they are expected to interact with fellow corps members of various/ differing ethnic, academic, religious and socio-cultural backgrounds, while learning the cultural beliefs, norms, values and mores of the indigenes in the location they are posted to. This vision is to further entrench the ‘One Nigeria’ mentality; uniting the country and fostering the appreciation of Unity in Diversity.
The Purpose of the National Youth Service Corps
The objectives of the National Youth Service Corps Scheme are clearly enumerated in Decree No.51 of 16th June 1993 as follows:
- To inculcate discipline in Nigerian youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry at work, and of patriotic and loyal service to Nigeria in any situation they may find themselves.
- To raise the moral tone of the Nigerian youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievement, social and cultural improvement.
- To develop in the Nigerian youths the attitudes of mind, acquired through shared experience and suitable training, which will make them more amenable to mobilization in the national interest.
- To enable Nigerian youths acquire the spirit of self-reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment.
- To contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy.
- To develop common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.
- To remove prejudices, eliminate ignorance and confirm at first hand the many similarities among Nigerians of all ethnic groups.
- To develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Nigeria.
- The equitable distribution of members of the service corps and the effective utilization of their skills in area of national needs.
- That as far as possible, youths are assigned to jobs in States other than their States of origin
- That such group of youths assigned to work together is as representative of Nigeria as far as possible
- That the Nigerian youths are exposed to the modes of living of the people in different parts of Nigeria
- That the Nigerian youths are encouraged to eschew religious intolerance by accommodating religious differences
- That members of the service corps are encouraged to seek at the end of their one year national service, career employment all over Nigeria, thus promoting the free movement of labour
- That employers are induced partly through their experience with members of the service corps to employ more readily and on a permanent basis, qualified Nigerians, irrespective of their States of origin. Unfortunately, most employers discard these young graduates, waiting for the next orientation programme to get a fresh set of graduates.
Ahmadu Ali served as the first Director-General of the NYSC from establishment in 1973 until 1975.
Featured image source: The Nation