The NYSC Question, A Colossal Waste?

Filed under: National Issues |

corps members

It is Tuesday 6 November 2012 again and NYSC has just opened its doors to the new Batch C. It is almost a dream come true for many undergraduates who look forward to this day as one of accomplishment and celebration of victory over academic rigor and lecturers’ brouhaha. These young Nigerians are here again for the traditional parades, speeches, training and NYSC activities- all in the name of national integration promulgated by dictatorial decree of the military era.It is an annual ritual and in the spirit of the euphoria nobody calls for appraisal of the system.

For a few like me the NYSC is a wasted year which many do not seem to realise. If we consider the economic implication and the cost in man-years it will be obvious to observers that this now discredited scheme should have been thrown into the refuse bin long before now. Almost at any given time there are 300,000 Nigerian youths under the scheme. Each is entitled to an allowance of nearly NGN240,000(totalling over 70 billion Naira in allowances for corps members). If we put the cost of orientation camp, organisational logistics, salaries and emolument for NYSC staff into the maths it is well over 100 billion Naira.This is a little less than the 2013 budtary allocation to health, 1.5 times allocation to power sector, about the size of budget to National Assembly, about half the allocation to Ministry of  Works, much larger than the budget for most states and so on. What a colossal waste!!!. It is imperative to note her that there is no amount that is too much to achieve national cohesion if it is worth it. In the case of NYSC this cannot be said of the programme. What parameters can we use to assess the level of national unity? Since the civil war we have had more conflicts as a nation more than even 50 years before the civil war. Nigerians are increasingly more discriminatory against their fellow Nigerians now than at independence. It is therefore too obvious that the scheme is a mere white elephant project meant to milk the nation dry and reward the beneficiaries of contract booties of the programme.

Another point to note is that this analysis is not intended to advocate a downward review of corps memebers allowance but to engender a rethink of the scheme. In fact if I have the power I will pay double the equivalent of the salary of a graduate in civil service to corps members because of the hazardous nature of their posting. But it is sad that corps members are subjected to degrading conditions in their respective places of primary assignment. Many states governments treat them with contempt making them live like refugees.The Nigerian graduate deserves better treatment and this sad story must end.

It beats my imagination to see many youths beam so much enthusiasm when the National Service is called unknown to them that they are being surchanged.A 24 year old Nigerian youth in pursuit of education is barely in his/her 200 level while a fellow American of same age is pursuing a second degree already. The Nigerian is caged on every side as he cannot get a job without the NYSC certificate, no admission for higher degrees without it and going for service puts him at a disadvantage in terms of age in the labour market as younger employees are preferred. Summarily he is a victim of a dysfunctional state called Nigeria.

In view of the fact that the scheme has outlived its usefulness, it high time we had a rethink of the whole programme.

TO BE CONT………………