NYSC: Compelling Case for Orientation Camps

By Adejumoke Alebiosu

It is no longer news that majority of Nigerians have come to a common agreement regarding the positivity and the prime position of the over 48 years old National Youths Service Corps scheme otherwise known as NYSC.

It is also almost invariably a monotonous repetition of a universal fact that the NYSC is about the only clear, concrete and verifiable national institution that primarily focuses on the legal mandate of teaching the youngsters of Nigeria the positive lessons and goals of national unity, national integration and patriotism.

If there is a hope of building a formidable home and place of pride for all citizens both now and in the foreseeable future, then the national springboard for actualisation of that goal is the NYSC.

At a very unfortunate time of unprecedented rate of joblessness amongst the Nigerian Youths, the NYSC is serving as a bulwark against the clear poverty of skills and employability of Nigerian young graduates given the critical and strategic component of the overall syllabus of the one year national service such as Skills acquisitions.

The opportunities provided therefore for hundreds of thousands of young citizens of the largest black democracy in the World to become proficient in one skill or the other including proficiency in information technology and other vocational skills which are implemented by the management for the benefits of the NYSC participants (these young minds) are very enduring legacies that generations yet unborn will be grateful for that our generation bequeathed to them in times to come.

That is if we sustain the momentum of development and the evolutionary trends being rolled out by the forward looking management team at the moment in the NYSC.

The aforementioned logical facts make it of imperative need that the facilities required by the NYSC to disseminate and empower the Nigerian youths with these various life survival skills and strategies, must be in the best of shapes and it does not bear repeating the obvious fact that the NYSC as a National institution that is delivering on its mandates and objectives, should therefore be afforded and provided with the state of the arts facilities beginning with the most primary training facilities known collegially as camps. Philosophers say the first step in every initiative is the most important.

However, the shameful truth is that in most of the 36 states making up the Federating units in which the NYSC Camps are domiciled, a lot of these camps are not habitable and indeed are in need of upgrade as of necessity. The Holy Scripture says, will a parent give his baby a stone in place of bread? So the states must of necessity build 21st century compliant state of the arts facilities as permanent orientation camps.

Not long ago, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) had raised the alarm over the dilapidated conditions of its orientation camp facilities across the country.

This is even as the Scheme noted that the NYSC Trust Fund would make the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) Programme of the scheme more impactful through provision of training facilities and start-up capital for corps entrepreneurs if passed into law.

Director-General of NYSC, Shuaibu Ibrahim, spoke in Abuja during the 2022 NYSC yearly management conference, which held with the theme, ‘Repositioning the NYSC for Improved Healthcare Delivery, Revenue Generation and Corps Employment for Self-Reliance’.

Ibrahim, recently decorated with the illustrious rank of a Major Geberal by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari noted that since its establishment in 1973, NYSC has continued to play vital roles in areas of national unity and integration, promotion of peaceful co-existence among people of different socio-cultural backgrounds and free movement of labour among others.

He added: ‘The contributions of the Scheme to national development, particularly in the areas of health, education, rural infrastructure, culture and tourism, sports, conduct of elections and job creation have attracted commendations from within and outside the country.

‘Detailed documentation of these and other contributions have been made in nine books, which we published and unveiled to the public last year. The Scheme’s accomplishments are also being showcased through our in-house news magazine, print and electronic media and the newly established NYSC Museum/Archives.’

He, however, noted that despite the aforementioned achievements, the Scheme still faces some challenges, saying: ‘These arise mainly from non-discharge of statutory responsibilities by some critical stakeholders. Problems such as dilapidated Orientation Camp facilities, inadequate Corps Lodges and lack of befitting office accommodation are being contended within some states. Another area of concern has to do with the provision of start-up capital for corps members after acquisition of entrepreneurial skills.’

Whilst the National Assembly is about wrapping up with the rolling out of the enabling legislation for the establishment of this NYSC’S YOUTHS TRUST FUND, the State Governments should be reminded that it is their obligations to provide permanent camps for coppers in such a way that the participants will be in a position to have lifetime great memories of their camping experiences and therefore will become positive supporters and ambassadors of such States throughout their life time.

It was therefore with considerable shock that this writer read that there is for now no permanent camp of the NYSC in Nigeria’s richest state which is Lagos.

From all recorded and available human development indices, Lagos is the most prosperous state in Nigeria and Lagos is one amongst the very few places that have for the past two decades, has had the luck of producing governors with positive disposition towards aggressive modernised infrastructural projects.

The current governor is perpetually seen in the media commissioning one major project or the other. So it is a scandal to note that of all places, Lagos does not have a permanent camp for our Youths doing their yearly national service at the NYSC.

The Lagos State Coordinator of the National Youths Service Corps, Mr Eddy Megwa, had reportedly appealed to the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to commence the construction of the orientation camp.

Speaking at the swearing-in of the 2022 Batch A Stream 1 corps members, Megwa stated that 2,245 corps members were posted to Lagos, saying 969 were males and 1,227 females.

He said the capacity of the camp was no longer adequate for the number of corps members always posted to the Lagos Orientation Camp.

He said, ‘We are pleading with the Lagos State Governor to commence the construction of orientation camp so that we can have a bigger camp.

‘Due to the inadequacy of space at our current camp, we have had to deploy some prospective corps members to Oyo and Osun States.’

Here are key facts on why Lagos State and indeed all States must build befitting and upgraded permanent camps for the NYSC even before the advent and functionality of the much awaited NYSC youths trust fund.

The facts are that every corps member will be made to pass through the four sections of the National Youth Service Year. The NYSC orientation camp experience is the first and interesting experience to corps members. Some say it’s stressful though, but fun-filled. Here is all about NYSC Orientation Camp:

When graduating students have been mobilized, received their call-up letter and date for the orientation camp fixed, they are allowed three or four days from commencement of the orientation camp to report in camp and get registered. After the deadline, no prospective corps member will be allowed into the camp.

Hence, the person remains a “prospective” Corps Member. So, it is important to arrive the camp early enough so as to be able to complete your registration on time. The camp is also important in order to fulfill the objectives of the orientation camp.

by Emmanuel Onwubiko

To be continued in the next edition…