Undergraduates no longer enthusiastic about NYSC, want it reviewed
Years back, Nigerian undergraduates are very enthusiastic and eager to be shortlisted for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Once they are through with their final year examination, they all look forward to the day they will be decked in the NYSC khaki attire and jungle boot, and above all be addressed as a “corper.”
But that is no longer the same today! Times have changed… society also has changed, things are no longer the same, say some Nigerian undergraduates that spoke with The Guardian, recently.They lamented that the country is plagued by incessant killings, insecurity, ethnic crisis, kidnappings, poverty, unemployment and unstable economy and political affairs, and all these endangers the lives of corps members.
The roads condition and transport infrastructure they also highlighted were in bad shape as the rate of accidents involving corps members and other citizens keep rising.Though they affirmed that the scheme introduced in May 1973 by the then military government of General Yakubu Gowon, has laudable objectives, the political and socio-economic instability, coupled with incessant killings in the country is slowly killing those objectives.
Undergraduates are no longer excited being enrolled in the scheme, as majority sees it as a ritual which must be performed rather than a dedicated and selfless service.According to a 400-level student of Lagos State University (LASU), “I don’t really desire to be enrolled in NYSC. It is more of a tradition to me now than a service. The plight of corps members and unjust killing of corps members in their various places of primary assignment has rendered the scheme irrelevant. It has outlived its intent and purpose. Our country was not like this when it was introduced. Now that Nigeria is undergoing security challenges amidst other crisis, it is expected that the scheme should be reviewed. They should stop wasting innocent lives all in the name of rendering a service to the fatherland.”
For a 400-level Electrical Engineering student of University of Lagos (UNILAG), “I am not looking forward to it, it has more demerits than merits. I mean spending a whole year with a scheme that has so much structural deficiencies is a waste of time. A lot of these corps members are under utilised. Graduates with first class will be in one rural community to rot away.
“The spate of killings and insecurity in the land, has overpowered the objectives of the founding fathers as people are no longer free to move around. The issue of unemployment is also rising. How many of these corps members get or create job after service? How many were retained in their places of primary assignments? From the people around me that have served, there is nothing significant about NYSC. It is just a waste of time,” he said.
An HND 11, student of Yaba College of Technology (YabaTech), said she is not interested as a lot of misfortune befalls corps members during their service year.She said, “Where do I start? Is it the N19,800 allowance in the midst of high cost of living, or the poor road condition or the unjust posting without considering the level of security in such communities. Or the accommodation crisis my brother suffered during his time. NYSC has outlived its purpose, it is either they review it and allow us to choose the state where we want to serve or they should scrap the scheme.
“Before now, seeing corps members dressed in khaki and jungle boots made me anticipating for it, but with the present state of the nation, I have lost interest. Also the experience of my elder brother who served in Sokoto, made me understand that NYSC is more than just wearing khaki and jungle boot.
Another student of the school said, “I love adventure, and I would have loved to be posted to any faraway state, but the road infrastructure and the killings, coupled with communal clashes have flattened those wishes. In sincerity, Nigerian youths are no longer desirable of the scheme. If it is optional, I tell you a lot of people will opt out.”
But 300 level student of UNILAG, Adelakun Tobiloba, is more concerned about increasing the monthly allowance. “They should increase the allowance as the present stipend doesn’t worth the stress. You can imagine being posted in one rural community where their living standard is too poor, and you will go and join them. As a graduate, you are meant to advance and start impacting lives not living like a pauper in one local community all in the name of serving your fatherland. The scheme should be urgently reviewed.”
For Franklin John, another student of UNILAG, “Government should consider environment before posting innocent corps members to community where their safety is not guaranteed. I am still in 200-level, but I am scared and I’m not interested. Is like starting life afresh, settling where you don’t even know if you are welcomed and managing life with a meagre N19,800.”A Law student of UNILAG also, said government should seek another integration policy, as NYSC has outlived its purpose.
He said, “It needs to be restructured. It is something interesting that every young person should look forward to. But the situation in the country has dampened one’s spirit. Apart from issue of safety and poor stipend, the scheme itself is not maximising the potentials of graduates enrolled in it.
“Most of the have redundant year. It is not enrolling that is the issue but what they do within that one year is more important, posting promising graduates with great potentials in rural villages or primary school shows that something is wrong with the process of posting. They should work with our records, qualifications and discipline so that the nation will indeed benefit from our service, if not you will have a redundant year. The prospect is big for the country; they even use corps members as electoral officers. So it should be restructured and the managers of the scheme should be pragmatic about it.