As National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) marks 45th year anniversary, serving corps members are calling on the federal and state governments to improve on the welfare packages for them and staff of the scheme for more effective service delivery.
The corps members, who were interviewed during a road walk show along Ali Akilu road in Kaduna on Monday said, the scheme has not done bad in the past 45 years but believe it can do more in the next 45 years with the support of all and sundry.
NYSC was established by Decree No 24 of 22nd May 1973 during the regime of General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) which is now an Act of Parliament as a way of reuniting and integrating the country after the gruesome civil war that ended in 1970, primed to mobilise and groom graduate youths for the promotion of national unity, sustainable development, self reliance and to prepare them for good leadership.
The State Coordinator of the scheme, Alhaji Dahunsi Muhammad said, the NYSC is already a household name and one of the few organisations that have contributed to the progress and achievements of the country describing those calling for its scrapping as ‘ignorant’ of its achievements over the years.
, “people calling for the scrapping of the scheme are ignorance of what NYSC is doing. Scrapping it is never the best. It just needed to be strengthened to do more since there is always room for improvement on whatever we do.
“How many other organisations like this have survived and that show how relevance the scheme is. If you let losses the number of youths we produce from our higher institutions without proper orientation about the larger society, where would they go except NYSC where they are being orientate about the different between the school and society environments.
“The one year sojourn they do is very important because we make them to acquire a skill right from the first day they report on camp through the service year. The Self-Reliance and Entrepreneurial Development programme the scheme introduced few years ago made it mandatory for all corps members to acquire a skill of interest so they can b e self-reliant before getting another job if they show wished
“That is why we felt to roll out drums to show the world what we have achieved in the past 45 years. We are doing this by way of visiting important places like orphanage, prison and all that.
“We felt if we are not engaging the youths very well for the past 45 years, what our society would have be like. NYSC has a good pedigree that people need to know. We have been engaging our local people directly by providing them health services which we are striving to improve upon by the day”, he added.
Glory Olaniyi, a graduate of Animal Production and Health from Ladoke Akintola University of Science and Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State said, she considered the national service an opportunity to know her country better, meeting with new people and increase her chances of entrepreneurship.
“We are interested in this road show because NYSC is celebrating 45 years of impacting lives around the country whick we are the key driver of getting that done.
“I think the scheme is not doing badly especially in the area of national integration. I am a living example. I am an Osun indigene, schooled in Oyo state and now serving the nation here in Kaduna which to me is the ideal thing.
“But as we serve, we have challenges of welfare packages for ourselves especially at our places of primary assignment and some of NYSC staff themselves which the government need to do something about”, she said.
Also sharing her experience, Garba Salome, a graduate of Physics Education from Adamawa State University believed the scheme was making progress as she could see some changes in the way young people especially, those that passed through the service are doing things as evidence of self-reliant training gotten during the one year mandatory service to their motherland.
According to her, “the celebration has brought many of us together again after the orientation camp. If you look at the crowd we have here, you will know that Nigerian youths are not lazy and they are in support of the NYSC.
“We look forward to glorious days ahead when our graduates can graduate, serve the country and become employers and not job seekers after the service year.”