..Nigerian youths react
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led Economic Sustainability Committee has recommended that all camps where the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation exercises are usually undertaken should be closed for the period of two years because of the COVID-19 protocol, which demands social distancing report Alexander Johnson Adejoh and Precious Ukeje.
In a series of tweets by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, Tuesday, June 16, while reacting to the controversy generated by the committee’s report.
The tweets read in part, ‘Contrary to reports circulating in the mainstream media, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo did not call for the suspension of the NYSC.
‘It’s the paramilitary orientation camping that is being considered to be suspended for at least 24 months, not deployment to primary assignment i.e. the longer part of NYSC programme would not be affected in case this idea is okayed.
Fides gathered that this development came barely a week after the NYSC Director-General, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, visited his counterpart of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, to map out modalities for re-opening Orientation Camps.
The Orientation Course, Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), Community Development Service (CDS), and Passing Out Parade (POP), Fides discovered, were the four cardinal programmes of the NYSC, of which the Orientation Course was reported to be the most relevant.
Fides gathered several reactions from Nigerian youths towards the prevailing development. Dr Emmanuel Aruya, Principal, Rehoboth Academy, Zaria, Kaduna State, noted that NYSC orientation camping was the core of the NYSC programmme. He added that suspending the orientation programme completely negated the purpose of the program.
Dr Aruya, an ex-corps member who served in Ebonyi State, 2010, disclosed that scraping the orientation course meant scraping the NYSC. He added that the entire aim of the NYSC was to foster national unity. ‘So if we can’t relate as youths from different regions on the platform of orientation, what then is the essence? He asked.
‘The benefit of NYSC far outweighs the excesses. Take me for instance, if not for NYSC, I probably will never have gone to the East. So as much as there are criticisms here and there, as evident with most Nigerian parastatals, the NYSC should not be the one paying the price for our long years of economic rascality.
‘My candid advice is that, for now let things remain the same for a while. Of course I know their fear concerning the spread of Coronavirus, but if ever schools will reopen, military recruitment will continue, markets will open etc. I see nothing wrong with NYSC orientation camping. I know the government is trying to prioritize but it is wrongly done,’ Aruya said.
Uchechukwu Enem, a Journalist with Fides Media, Awka, Anambra State, added that, there were other ways to limit crowds or close contacts. She suggested that it could be done by having the camping in more batches. Although, she acknowledged that it might be stressful for the officials.
‘We have heard series of insecurity in the North which has claimed more lives than coronavirus. Yet, the government did not deem it neccesary to have stopped sending corps members there. I feel part of the reasons they are suspending NYSC camping for two years is to cut expenses too because of the present economic situation of the country.
‘Well, I want the Federal Government to understand that the decision they take now would affect the forth coming generation.
year suspension is not necessary. They should focus all their strength on insecurity. If insecurity is tackled well, people wont be going outside the country to invest. They will come to their homeland and invest which in turn, will bring great Net profit and higher Economic advantage to our country,’ Enem said.
Also reacting, a senior staff of the NYSC in Anambra State who pleaded anonymity, noted that the thought for suspending the orientation camps was in the wrong direction noting it could lead to the beginning of the end of NYSC if the government approved it.
‘NYSC remains one of the institutions that hold an array of hope for Nigerian unity. The scheme also holds a lot of benefits for the youths and the orientation Camp has been the breeding ground for patriotic ideals and mental transformation of the future leaders.
‘In this era of high rate of unemployment in the country, the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneural Development, (SAED), programme has been serving as a panacea to bridge the gap of unemployment.
‘I say this because the moment you remove the orientation camp from NYSC, you have destroyed the essence of the scheme in its entirety,’ he explained.
In a contrary opinion, Murkthar Suleiman, a serving corps member in Kaduna State disclosed that the lapses that existed in NYSC necessitated the proposed suspension of orientation camps across the federation.
‘I believe a significant review of the process ought to be carried out. The recommendation from the Vice President’s team came after an extensive look into the affairs of the camps. I don’t know how true this is, but I was made to understand that each corp member has a budget of 750, 000 naira as a budget and that our uniforms costs about 50-70 thousand to sew. Again, I don’t know how true that is but owing to many discrepancies that are in how the system operates, a review should be done and if that comes from suspending it for two years. So be it. The country is bleeding significantly of money.
‘The essence of NYSC has been defeated long ago. Why are we then deceiving ourselves. You can’t keep running same thing, same way for decades, review must be done to check effectiveness and efficiency,’ Suleiman said.
In addition, Ottobong Usoro, an Abuja-based Litigation Secretary, described camp as totally useless, disclosing that all the money allocated for the running of camping excercise was a waste.
‘Parade and all the running under the sun and in the rain is unnecessary. It is too stressful and drains people’s energy. Some people even contact disease from toilet and over populated camp premises.
Comfort Otong an Ex- corps member who served in Abia State also told Fides that the proposal to suspend NYSC camps was timely and needful adding that corps members could learn skills anywhere.