The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) program in Nigeria has been a subject of both praise and criticism since its inception in 1973. The scheme was formed by former military head of State, Yakubu Gowon with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity.
Let’s explore the positives and negatives of the program, and ponder what lies ahead for the NYSC as it turns 50 this year.
Fifty years down the line, there is no doubt that the NYSC has contributed to national integration and unity by exposing graduates to diverse cultures and regions within Nigeria. It has encouraged interaction, understanding, and appreciation of the country’s rich diversity. The program also fosters a sense of patriotism and civic responsibility among participants, as they engage in community development projects and contributes to nation-building.
Furthermore, the NYSC, provides an opportunity for graduates to gain practical skills, through its skill acquisition programme and deployment different sectors like education, healthcare, and agriculture. It also offers networking opportunities and enhances social and communication skills, which can be valuable in the job market.
However, there are also notable criticisms of the NYSC. One major concern is the security risks faced by corps members in some regions, particularly during periods of conflict or unrest. There have been instances of violence and attacks on corps members, raising questions about their safety.
Moreover, some argue that the NYSC fails to address the issue of youth unemployment and the skills gap. The program does not guarantee employment for participants after completion, and graduates often struggle to find suitable jobs that match their qualifications.
Also, corruption has pervaded the system so much so that corps members now reportedly bribe their way through to get relocated to their preferred destinations.
As we consider the future of the NYSC, the question arises: should it be reformed or scrapped?
While scrapping the program entirely may not be the ideal solution, reform is undoubtedly necessary. Reevaluation of the program’s objectives, curriculum, and implementation is crucial to align it with the current needs of Nigerian youth and the country’s development agenda. Addressing security concerns, improving the quality and relevance of training, and enhancing post-service support and employability should be top priorities.