NYSC DG Meets Editors,Bureau-Chief,Correspondents, Says Most Nigerian Graduates can’t Write ABCD

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The Director-General ,National Youth Service Corps, Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim has said decried the falling standard of education where corps producing institutions graduates can not write alphabetical words correctly.

NYSC DG stated this during an interactive media parley with Nigerian journalists in Abuja on Tuesday.

Ibrahim said the scheme will no longer mobilize unqualified graduates for service,he added that any Corps producing institutions,individuals involving in mobilization of fake or unqualified graduates shall be dealt with accordingly.

He stated that scheme would not  post Corps members to volatile states in the country,he added that NYSC is in partnership with relevant security agencies to ensure safety of corps members including eradication ‘fake corps members ‘ syndrome.

DG therefore called for review of NYSC act which has been in existence since formation years of the scheme.

He however urged Corps members to remain good ambassadors of the scheme as the discussion on minimum wage for corps members was on ongoing.

In her welcome address, the NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations,Adeyemi Adenike ,welcomed media practitioners to the maiden media parley ,she said their presence despict their schedule was a act of abiding faith in existed age long relationship with the scheme as partners -in- progress.

 

She maintained that NYSC over the years has become a household name in Nigeria with visible impacts in the socio-economic development of the country. As an organisation that value its critical stakeholders,

Chairman,NUJ FCT Council,Emmanuel Ogbeche

“we have continued to enlist the support of our media partners to showcase the Scheme’s efforts and contributions towards advancing our dear country to greater height.

It is worthy of note that since the 18th Chief Executive of NYSC assumed office on 10th May, 2019, he has left no one in doubt of his passion for a sustained cordial relation with the media. Media reporters will attest to the Director-General’s readiness to interact with them and offer detailed responses to questions concerning the Scheme. This is based on his firm belief that the media is the conscience of the nation and a veritable agent for national development.

The present Management is particularly aware of the fact that our partnership with the media over the years has earned the Scheme immense goodwill within and outside the shores of the country. Hence, the Director-General’s determination to strengthen the existing bond with the fourth estate of the realm. It is our fervent hope that at the end of this event, the relationship will grow stronger, better and more fruitful in pursuit of the Scheme’s mandate.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the media, I wish to appeal that you continue to display the ethical principles of objectivity and balance in reporting the NYSC. We shall, on our part, continue to keep our doors open for clarifications on issues that concern the Service Corps and its operations.” Adeyemi stated.

Dr.Tayo Hastrup ,Chairman of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations NIPR,FCT chapter,enjoined NYSC to insured Corps members especially during the elections.

Dr. Tayo Hastrup ,Chairman, NIPR Abuja Chapter

The Chairman,Nigeria Union of Journalists NUJ FCT Council, Emmanuel Ogbeche assured NYSC of NUJ’s support.He however urged journalists covering NYSC to stick to the ethics of journalism and hold NYSC management responsible where necessary.

Ogbeche also urged NYSC to blacklist state that can not guaranteed safety of Corps members.

Ibrahim Newton,(Editor), and Babalola Lukman of Emporium Reporters

 

Read full text of DG’s Speech:

    I am delighted to welcome you all to this interaction with our esteemed friends and partners from the Fourth Estate of the Realm, my first since I assumed office as the 18th Director General of NYSC on 10th May, 2019. I wish to express our sincere gratitude for the tremendous support we are receiving from the media as exemplified by the extensive coverage and publicity accorded our programmes and activities. Your in-depth analysis, commentaries and constructive criticisms on various issues affecting the Scheme have given us further assurance that you are indeed worthy partners in our progress having enabled us to enhance our efficiency and effectiveness.

2. In recent times, key stakeholders in the Scheme and other members of the public have increasingly expressed support for our programmes and activities nationwide. We attribute this positive development to increased media visibility. We shall continue to strengthen our partnership with you as our dependable allies. Today’s event affords us a veritable opportunity to share ideas and relevant information on the activities and programmes, which are germane to the growth of the Scheme as an important national asset. I, therefore, thank you most sincerely for honouring our invitation.

3. BRIEF HISTORY OF NYSC:

Before delving into the nitty-gritty of today’s meeting, permit me to quickly refresh your memories with a brief history of the Scheme. The National Youth Service Corps was established Forty-Six (46) years ago by Decree No 24 of 22nd May, 1973, later repealed and replaced by Decree No. 51 of June 1993, which is now known as National Youth Service Corps Act, Cap N84, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.  The establishment of the Scheme was in response to the challenges arising from the Nigerian civil war, which ended in 1970. The then Federal Government under the leadership of General Yakubu Gowon sought, among other measures, to harness the potentials of educated Nigerian youths for the implementation of its post war policy of Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation. The NYSC is, therefore, a platform that galvanises Nigerian graduate youths of thirty years of age and below for national unity and development through its Four Cardinal Programmes for a continuous period of twelve months in line with its objectives.

4. THE OBJECTIVES OF NYSC ARE:

a) To inculcate discipline in Nigerian Youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry at work, and of patriotic and loyal service to Nigeria in any situation they may find themselves;

b) To raise the moral tone of Nigerian Youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievement, social and cultural improvement;

c) To develop in the Nigerian youths the attitude of mind, acquired through shared experience and suitable training, which will make them more amenable to mobilization in the national interest;

d) To enable Nigerian Youths acquire the spirit of self-reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment;

e) To contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy;

f) To develop common ties among Nigerian Youths and promote national unity and integration;

g) To remove prejudices, eliminate ignorance and confirm at first hand the many similarities among Nigerians of all ethnic groups and;

h) To develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Nigeria.

To achieve the aforementioned objectives the Scheme is mandated to ensure:

i. Equitable distribution of members of the service corps and effective utilisation of their skills in areas of national needs;

ii. That as far as possible, youths are assigned to jobs in States other than their States of origin;

iii. That such groups of youths assigned to work together are representative of Nigeria as far as possible;

iv. That the Nigerian youths are exposed to the modes of living  of the people in different parts of Nigeria;

v. That the Nigerian youths are encouraged to eschew religious intolerance by accommodating religious differences;

vi. That the members of the service corps are encouraged to seek at the end of their one year national service career employment all over Nigeria, thus promoting free movement of labour;

vii. That employers are induced partly through their experience with members of the service corps to employ more readily and on a permanent basis qualified Nigerians irrespective of the States of origin.

As earlier stated, the Scheme has Four Cardinal Programmes which mainstream the activities of corps members. They include Orientation, Primary Assignment, Community Development Service and Winding-up/Passing-out activities. Every corps member must successfully pass through the cardinal programmes to qualify for the Certificate of National Service.

5. OVERVIEW OF THE JOURNEY SO FAR

Since the establishment of the NYSC, successive managers of the Scheme have been committed to meeting public expectations in the pursuit of its mandate with the support of government and other stakeholders. In line with the vision of its founding fathers, deliberate steps have been taken with the aim of repositioning it for greater performance. The result indeed has been heart warming as the Scheme, over the past four and a half decades, has made invaluable contributions to the socio-economic development of the country to the admiration of all stakeholders. The following, amongst other achievements, have made the Scheme a household name:

6. GENERAL ACHIEVEMENTS SINCE INCEPTION:

· Fostering of national unity and integration through the policy of deploying Corps Members to states other than their state of origin and away from their geo-political zones has helped in giving participants in the Scheme broader understanding of the country, especially as they experience firsthand the socio-cultural peculiarities of their host communities. Over the years, inter-tribal marriages have continued to enhance understanding among youths who meet in the course of national service. Many ex-corps members have also become permanent residents and contributors to the socio-economic development of their states of deployment.

Since inception, four million six hundred and forty-four thousand eight hundred and four (4,644,804) Nigerians have participated in the Scheme.

· Educational development of the country has also been positively imparted through the posting of Corps Members to teach in schools at all levels. In addition the level of literacy has been improved among the populace through the activities of the Corps Mass Literacy Group, which has the mandate of reducing illiteracy especially at Adult and Non-formal level to the barest minimum in Nigeria.

· The Scheme has contributed to strengthening healthcare delivery as Corps Doctors and paramedics have continued to serve in public hospitals all over the country, especially at Primary Healthcare Centres and hard-to-reach rural locations. Furthermore, Corps Doctors have been using the platform of the Community Development Service to carry out medical outreaches in various communities.

· Value has also been added to numerous communities across the country through projects and programmes executed by Corps members under its Community Development Service.  These projects include structures in schools, provisions of health facilities, water supply, culverts and many other projects that dot the entire landscape of the country.

· Corps members have also been participating in the implementation of various national programmes such as the national population census, immunization, guinea worm eradication campaign and conduct of national elections.

· Partnership with other bodies to tackle the menace of the HIV/AIDS pandemic through sensitization of the public on prevention and care.

· Active participation in the awareness creation programmes for the erstwhile Millennium Development Goals (MDGs; now re-christened Sustainable Development Goals), which attracted an Award for the Scheme from the United Nations and accolades from several Agencies. The Scheme also participated actively in the conduct of the World Survey whose outcomes inspired the ideas of the new SDGs.

· Corps members have continued to make penetrating impact on the society through activities such as Legal Aid Services, Anti-corruption Sensitization, Road Safety Awareness, and Campaign Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking amongst others.

7. RECENT INNOVATIONS IN THE SCHEME

In response to prevailing socio-economic realities, the Scheme in recent years, made the following giant strides to further consolidate its achievements:

a. Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED)

The Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) Department was established in 2012 with the mandate to drive the Scheme’s collaboration with various stakeholders towards addressing the problem of graduate youth unemployment. The SAED programme is designed to equip Corps Members with vocational skills while also developing their business and entrepreneurial capacities. Presently, Corps Members are being trained in skill areas such as Agro-Allied, Food Preservation and Processing, Culture and Tourism, Cosmetology, Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Environment, Beautification, Construction, Education, Power and Energy, Film and Photography and Automobile Technology.  The Scheme is collaborating with national and international organisations towards providing material, technical and financial support for the programme. So far, over 1,132,409 Corps members have been sensitized and over 700,000 have undergone various forms of skills training.

The BOI-NYSC Graduate Empowerment Fund, which is a product of our partnership with the Bank of Industry (BOI), is yielding encouraging results with the sum of over N540 million so far disbursed as loans to 325 Corps entrepreneurs. In the same vein, the Central Bank of Nigeria in partnership with Heritage Bank has disbursed N15, 000,000 to seven Corps Members under the NYSC/CBN Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP).

A number of Skill Centres have also been established across the country for the post-camp training of Corps Members. Through our public-private-partnership drive, Access Bank has undertaken and completed the building and furnishing of a 1000-capacity mega skills training Centre for the North East zone of Nigeria located in Gombe, the Gombe State capital. In the same vein, the American multi-national, General Electric in conjunction with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) under the Cognity Advisory Partnership has trained 40 NYSC Staff who are now ILO certified Business Entrepreneurship Trainers. They are presently training and supporting Corps Members for effective implementation of the SAED programme.

In addition to this, a significant number of NYSC Staff have also benefitted from international capacity building training in China, America and Europe which has tremendously boosted the training and mentoring of Corps entrepreneurs. We have also successfully staged a Skills and Entrepreneurship Development Festival during which Corps Members from all States of the federation and the FCT converged on Abuja to showcase their entrepreneurial skills through competitions and products exhibition.

b. The NYSC Ventures Initiative

The NYSC Ventures were established primarily to serve as training grounds in skills acquisition and entrepreneurship for Corps Members, in addition to meeting some of the basic needs of the Scheme such as provision of kits for the Corps Members. They include the Garment Factories located in Niger and Anambra States, Rice Mill in Ebonyi, Feed Mill in Lagos, Garri processing factory in Kwara State, and Water Bottling Plant and Bakery in Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In line with the Federal Government’s policy of diversifying the economy through harnessing the country’s potentials in the non-oil sectors and our desire to contribute towards ensuring food security, the Scheme is resuscitating its farm settlements across the country. I am happy to inform you that four of our farms located in the FCT, Bauchi, Kebbi and Oyo States have been into full-scale farming activities for the past two years. The farms have been provided with modern implements and Corps Lodges as they are also serving as training grounds for Corps Members under the agricultural component of the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme.

c. Deployment of ICT Solutions to Enhance Operations

The ICT Department which was established in 2012 has been anchoring the deployment of ICT solutions to drive the operations of the Scheme for greater efficiency. One of the feats achieved through the Department is the migration of the Scheme from analogue operations to an Online Integrated System. The full computerization of the mobilization process which started with 2014 Batch ‘C’ service year, has brought in its wake the following achievements:

Ø Online upload of Senate/Academic Board Approved Lists by Corps Producing Institutions (CPIs);

Ø Online Registration by both Local and Foreign trained Prospective Corps Members;

Ø Online Registration by Part-time graduates;

Ø Online Printing of Call-up Letters;

Ø Biometric Verification and Registration during Orientation programmes;

Ø Online Processing of Relocation of corps members;

Ø Automated printing of Certificate of National Service, Exemption Certificate and Exclusion Letters embossed with passport photographs;

Ø Real-time generation of various reports on Corps Data;

Ø Use of biometrics for the monthly clearance of Corps Members in all States of the federation and the FCT.

Our effort in this regard has enthroned a culture of integrity, enhanced efficiency and ease of doing business between the Scheme and its stakeholders. Happily, this has attracted the endorsement of relevant bodies as the Scheme was conferred with the Best MDA Award in the innovative application of ICT solutions at the 2016 e-Governance Award Ceremony organised by NITDA/Nihilent.

d. Welfare of Corps Members

The Scheme accords top priority to the security and general welfare of Corps Members, just as it remains committed to the provision of enabling environment for them to render selfless service to the nation. Over the years we have been able to secure the review of Corps Members’ allowance each time there is increment in the remuneration of civil servants.

The Management of NYSC has also taken other measures in pursuit of the welfare of the Corps Members, including:

e. Liaison with Security Agencies

We are in continuous liaison with various security agencies with a view to ensuring the safety of corps members wherever they are serving in the country. I am using this opportunity to express our appreciation to the Security Agencies and other stakeholders for their support in this regard.

f. Transformation of the NYSC Distress Call Centre

The Distress Call Centre (DCC) was established in February 2012 and domiciled in the National Directorate Headquarters of the Scheme. It is equipped with communication facilities that are manned 24 hours daily to ensure timely and well-coordinated response to calls from Corps Members who find themselves in distressed situation through contact with the nearest security agencies and other relevant stakeholders. In view of the strategic importance of the facility and the desire of the Scheme to meet current challenges, we have transformed it to an information centre with five operational lines. Just last month we got additional toll-free line from 9mobile to further strengthen the operations of the centre. With this development, the Centre in addition to responding to distress calls from Corps Members, staff and members of the public, also provides information on the operations of the Scheme to the Corps Members and other stakeholders.

g. Security Tips Pamphlet

As part of strategies for ensuring safety, the Scheme produces Security Tips booklets, which are issued to all Corps Members.  The document contains easily digestible tips, which help to keep them off the harm’s way. We are constantly reviewing the publication to take care of prevailing safety needs.

h. Health Insurance

Management is in touch with the National Health Insurance Scheme with a view to working out modalities for the enrolment of Corps Members into the NHIS in line with the Federal Government’s directive. In the meantime, the Scheme is still paying Corps Members’ medical bills

8. STAFF WELFARE

Management has made enhancement of staff welfare a part of its guiding principles given that loyalty, hard work and commitment by the workforce are crucial to the success of the Scheme. In this vein, we have and will continue to pursue initiatives geared towards motivating staff of the Scheme. Among other steps, we are ensuring that staff entitlements are paid as and when due while also increasing the tempo of capacity building for improved productivity. Management is equally working hard to tackle the problem of staff stagnation in the Scheme through liaison with relevant government agencies to create more vacancies.

9. NYSC PROGRAMMES AND COLLABORATIONS

Efforts by successive administrations to reposition the Scheme and make it more responsive to prevailing national needs gave birth to various programmes and collaborations.

a. PROGRAMMES

i. The President’s NYSC Honours Award

The President’s NYSC Honours Award Ceremony is a flagship programme of the Scheme, which was instituted in 1974 to reward hard work among Corps Members. Criteria for the selection of awardees are predicated on outstanding performance in the four cardinal programme of the Scheme namely; Orientation Course, Primary Assignment, Community Development Service and Winding-Up/Passing-Out activities. Potential awardees are also assessed on personal qualities such as character, sense of duty, drive and determination, reliability, initiative and resourcefulness, command and leadership, team work, special contributions, self-confidence and emotional poise.

The process of selecting winners is rigorous and is usually entrusted to a National Selection Committee of eminent Nigerians representing various agencies of government and interest groups. A total of 1,264 ex-Corps Members have so far been conferred with the award since its inception. The last edition, during which 168 awardees of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 service years were honoured, took place in April this year.

ii. NYSC Sports and Cultural Festivals

The NYSC Sports and Cultural Festivals are Annual Events staged to showcase the talents of Corps Members as potential agents for the advancement of national unity, sports development and the promotion of our cultural heritage.  Events in the sports segment are football (males), volley ball (females), 4 x 100 metres relay (male and female categories) and 100 metres dash (male and female categories).  The cultural segment features drama, cultural dance and stand-up comedy competitions. Preparation for this year’s fiesta is on-going.

iii. Annual Management Conference

The Annual Management Conference is a forum, which brings together key officials of Scheme for the review of its programmes, successes and challenges. Participants, including members of the Top Management, State Coordinators, Deputy and Assistant Directors, engage in thorough policy analysis and evolve strategies for enhanced performance in the discharge of the NYSC mandate. Preparations are on for the hosting of this year’s edition of the conference.

iv. Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers

The Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers (HIRD) was launched in 2014 and gives the Scheme a veritable platform to contribute its quota in addressing the health challenges of rural dwellers who experience difficulty accessing regular health centres across the country. Under the programme, an annual nationwide medical outreach is carried out, and usually lasts one week. From the inception of the programme to date, over 500,000 rural dwellers have been treated by the NYSC medical teams. Apart from the centrally coordinated outreaches conducted simultaneously nationwide, each NYSC State Secretariat also mobilizes Corps Medical Teams to conduct health missions to various communities on quarterly basis. Part of this intervention is the donation, by the NYSC in conjunction with Grace Projects International, of over 300 wheelchairs to the less privileged/physically challenged members of the public across the country.

b. COLLABORATIONS

i. NYSC/INEC Collaboration

Our collaboration with the Independent National Electoral Commission began in 2008 with the engagement of Corps Members in the conduct of re-run elections in several States across the country. The success of that experiment led to the permanent arrangement of assigning Corps Members to administer all INEC-organized elections. The Scheme takes great pride in the sense of patriotism, commitment and neutrality exhibited by the Corps Members in the course of discharging the election duties, especially during the 2011, 2015 and 2019 general elections, as well as the Anambra, Ekiti and Osun Governorship elections. Indeed, the partnership between the electoral umpire and the NYSC has become a huge success, as the participation of Corps Members as ad hoc election officials has contributed immensely to the enhancement of the credibility of the elections. Only recently, the European Union, through its Election Observation Mission, poured accolades on NYSC at a ceremony organized by the body to honour and distribute Information Technology equipment to seventy-five Corps members selected from across the country for their outstanding performance during the 2019  General Elections.

ii. Partnership with Mercy Corps

The NYSC is in partnership with Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian organisation, on a programme tagged: “Engaging Nigerian Girls in New Enterprise (ENGINE)”. The programme provides after-school tutorials and Skills empowerment for girls in secondary schools. Following its successful piloting in Kaduna, Kano and FCT, the programme has since been extended to Lagos, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Kebbi, Sokoto, Adamawa, Borno, and Gombe States.

iii. NYSC/SDGs Project

The NYSC/SDGs Project is aimed at creating public awareness on policies and programmes of Government in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with trained Corps Volunteers playing active roles as Development Knowledge Facilitators.  The ultimate goal is to ensure that Nigerians become informed participants in the process of attaining sustainable National development in line with the global agenda for development.

iv.   NYSC/Voluntary Services Overseas Collaboration On the Nigerian Graduate Volunteer Programme (NGVP)

The Scheme has been collaborating with the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) on the Nigerian Graduate Volunteer programme (NGVP) since 2009.  Initially designed to provide manpower for teaching of English and Mathematics in the rural schools in Nasarawa, Kwara and Kano States, the programme has since been expanded in scope as volunteers now also serve as Community Agricultural Extension Volunteers (CAEV), providing technical support to farmers in rural areas.

v. NYSC/COGNITY ADVISORY Partnership

In furtherance of our commitment to the effective implementation of the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme, the Scheme is partnering with Cognity Advisory, which is coordinating a group of telecom, banking and other multi-national giants to enhance entrepreneurship training, mentorship and funding options for aspiring Corps entrepreneurs. They include Sterling Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, Samsung, Globacom, Airtel, Kwese/Lflix Nigeria. They are also to undertake capacity building, career guidance, job search, basic entrepreneurship and employability training, geared towards reducing youth unemployment.

vi.  Other Collaborations

In addition to the aforementioned, the Scheme also collaborates with several other organisations and agencies to execute specific programmes geared towards the development of the country and to empower Corps Members.  These collaborating agencies include:

Ø National Directorate of Employment (NDE)

Ø Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN)

Ø Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM)

Ø Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC)

Ø Legal Aid Council

Ø Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related   Offences Commission (ICPC)

Ø Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)

Ø National Programme on Immunization (NPI)

Ø National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)

Ø National Agency for Foods and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC)

Ø National Population Commission (NPC)

Ø Pan African Institute for Global Affairs and Strategy(PAIGAS)

10. ENROLMENT OF UNQUALIFIED PERSONS FOR MOBILSATION BY CORPS PRODUCING INSTITUTIONS AND SUNDRY ISSUES

The deployment of ICT solutions in the NYSC Mobilisation process and existing collaboration with WAEC and JAMB in this regard have enhanced the integrity of the process and reduced incidences of fake Corps Members. However, these gains are currently being threatened by the presentation of unqualified persons for mobilization by some Corps Producing Institutions for mobilisation into the Scheme. We have already informed all the Corps Producing Institutions (CPIs) of our intention to blacklist any of them that engages in this act.  I was also opportuned to address Vice-Chancellors, Provosts and Registrars of the Corps Producing Institutions (CPIs) at a meeting convened by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) at Gbongan, Osun State during which I made further appeal for their support towards safeguarding the integrity of the mobilization process.

11. PRESENTATION OF FAKE MEDICAL CERTIFICATES

In the course of verifying documents presented by Corps Members for registration at the Orientation Camps, we have discovered that many of them present fake medical/fitness certificates. We wish to state clearly, that requesting for a Certificate of fitness at the point of registration at the Orientation Camp is not meant to deny anybody with medical condition registration, but to enable us identify and give the needed attention to those who have health challenges. We are, therefore, appealing to parents and guardians to guide and advise their wards against this unwholesome practice, which in the past led to unfair vilification of NYSC for alleged negligence in the handling of Corps Members with poor medical conditions.

12. POLICY DIRECTION OF MY ADMINISTRATION

It is my desire to build on the achievements of my predecessors as NYSC administration is a continuum. For those of you who were present on the day I assumed duty, you may recall that I used the occasion to unveil the policy thrust of my administration, which is focused on the following priorities:

ü Sustain effective utilisation of the potentials of Corps Members for optimal benefit.

ü Pursue a technologically-driven organisation to deepen effective service delivery.

ü Improvement of the welfare and security of Corps Members and staff.

ü Strengthening existing collaboration with stakeholders.

ü Reinvigorating NYSC Ventures and Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme in line with NYSC Act for greater impact.

13. LATEST STRIDES/ON-GOING ACTIVITIES

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are already striving to accomplish the priorities set in my policy thrust. The following are some of the feats we have achieved so far:

a) Advocacy Visits to Stakeholders:  On assumption of office, I commenced advocacy visits to critical stakeholders in furtherance of our commitment to the success of the NYSC mandate.  Some of the stakeholders visited include the Chief of Army Staff, the Inspector-General of Police and Heads of other Security Agencies, several State Governors, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Heads of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).  Also visited were National Universities Commission, the Country Office of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and several others.  We shall continue to interface with all relevant stakeholders for the benefit of the Scheme and our dear country.

b) Reinvigoration of NYSC Ventures and SAED Programme:  In line with one of the cardinal points of my policy thrust, we have set up committees to work out strategies for the reinvigoration of the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme. We are working vigorously to ensure that our ventures, especially the Farms and Garment Factories, are more functional and able to produce reasonable quantities of products needed by the Scheme.  Also, in line with our commitment to the sustenance of laudable initiatives of previous administrations, we have commenced steps towards the completion of the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Centre for the South West at Iyin Ekiti, Ekiti State. Arrangements are also on for the construction of similar centres for the North West and North Central in Jigawa and Nasarawa States respectively through public-private-partnership. In furtherance of our resolve to empower Corps members for self-employment, we have begun formalizing a partnership agreement with British America Tobacco Foundation to support entrepreneurship training for Corps members.

c) Welfare of Corps Members: Since my assumption of duty, we have made several strides towards enhancing the welfare of Corps members. I have paid advocacy visits to the Inspector-General of Police and Heads of other security agencies in a bid to enhance the safety of Corps members in all service locations in the country. I have also paid personal visits to Corps members who were on admission at different hospitals following their involvement in road traffic accidents. Among the States visited was Taraba State where some Corps members were involved in a road traffic accident on their way to report for Primary Assignment after the 2019 Batch ‘B’ Stream I Orientation Course.  We have commenced moves to procure artificial limbs for one of them, Nurudeen Tahir, who having previously lost an arm, also lost the second one in the accident.  I was also in Uromi, Edo State to reassure the family of Value Eromosele Akhigbe, who has been missing, of the Scheme’s commitment to ensuring that he returns unhurt to the family as another Corps member that got missing in Jigawa State was found two weeks ago.  May I use this opportunity to appeal to the general public to assist with information that will facilitate the return of Eromosele to his family.  The unfortunate loss of Precious Owolabi who was shot in the line of duty recently was a shocking one for the NYSC family. As we share in the grief of his immediate family, I undertook a trip to them in Zaria to express our heart-felt condolences.  Also comforting was the gesture of His Excellency, Mr. President who was represented by His Excellency, the Vice President accompanied by the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai on a condolence visit to the bereaved family.  We thank the Federal Government for standing by the family in their moment of grief.

d) Sensitization of Nigerians on the NYSC Act: We recently hosted a national sensitization programme on the NYSC Act with the aim of getting Nigerians, including Prospective Corps Members and other stakeholders, to understand better and discharge their obligations to the Scheme while also avoiding infractions. For the avoidance of doubt, participation in the Scheme is mandatory for Nigerian graduates of regular Degree and HND programmes, both foreign and locally trained, who are aged 30 years and below. Also among those targeted by the sensitization are many employers, who are unaware of their statutory responsibilities to Corps Members serving with them. From the feedback received, the programme has made the significant impact regarding awareness of the provisions of the Act by our audience. We shall continue to use available avenues for the sensitization, especially among undergraduate students and other stakeholders.

e) Inclusion of NYSC among vetting Agencies for Government Appointees: The issue of whether or not some public office holders who are graduates that have complied with the provisions of the NYSC Act came to the front burner in recent times. In order to avoid controversies in this regard, we have recommended to the appropriate quarters that the Scheme be contacted for the necessary checks regarding the service status of prospective appointees in both public and private sectors.

f) Approval for the Establishment of Area Offices:  I am pleased to inform you that we have secured approval for the expansion of our administrative structure from the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. The new structure, whose proposal was presented by the previous administration, has brought about the establishment of six Area Offices – one to be located in each geo-political zones as well as additional Divisions and Branches at the National Directorate Headquarters. With this development, the Scheme has now been positioned for better response to emerging challenges, including those occasioned by the continuous rise in Corps population.

g) Meeting with the Administrators of Foreign Universities: We have discovered in recent times that unscrupulous individuals now present fake results sourced mostly from foreign institutions, particularly in West Africa, for mobilisation into the Scheme. Consequently, we convened an interactive meeting with Registrars of foreign institutions to address this and other issues bordering on the integrity of the mobilisation process. Let me reiterate our warning that any person who presents fake certificate in an attempt to get mobilised for service will be handed over to security agencies for prosecution. Similar fate awaits any unauthorised person caught wearing NYSC uniform, especially to mislead or defraud unsuspecting members of the public.

h) Approval for the Establishment of NYSC Radio: As announced earlier this year, the Scheme has commenced the process of establishing NYSC Radio. I am pleased to inform you that we have received the green light from the relevant regulatory authorities. Accordingly, we are working towards fulfilling the necessary requirements for actualization of the project.

i) Orientation Course:  We have successfully conducted the 2019 Batch B Stream I orientation course.  The 2019 Batch B Stream II will hold from 20th August to 9th September, 2019.  Details will soon be published in the national dailies.

14. RESPONSIBILITIES OF GOVERNMENT AND OTHER STAKEHOLDERS IN THE SUSTENANCE OF NYSC

Gentlemen of the press, permit me to also leverage on this auspicious moment to review the roles of various tiers of Governments in the sustenance of the NYSC. Over the years, stakeholder-attitude to role expectations has become one of the major challenges faced by the Scheme. As we have always pointed out at various fora, the NYSC Act clearly spelt out the responsibilities of each of the three tiers of government in the operations of the Scheme. While the Federal Government shoulders the largest part of the Scheme’s needs, the provision of Orientation Camp facilities, NYSC Secretariats, post-camp accommodation and transportation for Corps Members, logistics support for inspection of Corps locations, material support for Community Development Service and security of Corps Members are the responsibilities of the State and Local Governments.

However, the level of response of many States and Local Governments to these responsibilities leaves much to be desired. The consequence of this attitude is most glaring in the limited capacity and quality of facilities in many Orientation Camps across the country and the inability of the Scheme to accommodate more than seventy-eight thousand (78,000) prospective Corps members in one Orientation course. We have embarked on advocacy visits to State Governments to appeal for the renovation and upgrade of Orientation Camp facilities, but the level of response is still not encouraging in many states. I, therefore, use this medium to renew our appeal to the State and Local Governments, which are not discharging their statutory responsibilities, to reconsider their stance and support the Scheme.

May I at this point express our profound gratitude to Mr. President for the Federal Government’s unwavering support to the Scheme.  We are greatly pleased by the gesture of the President in warmly hosting Corps members at his residence in Daura, Katsina State during the just concluded Eid-ul-Kabir festival as done during previous Eid festivals.  No doubt, His Excellency’s gesture serves as a morale booster for all Corps members and managers of the Scheme. In the same vein, we appreciate the National Assembly, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the NYSC National Governing Board for their support.  Our gratitude also goes to the State and Local Governments for being alive to their responsibilities, as well as partner-agencies for their abiding faith in the Scheme.

15. CONCLUSION

The contemporary challenges of the Scheme notwithstanding, the prospects of the Scheme are, no doubt, reassuring. Through the SAED initiative, the Scheme hopes to extensively empower Corps participants with a view to substantially contributing to government’s effort in tackling unemployment among the youths, in addition to its core mandate of deepening national cohesion.  It is worthy of note, that the scope and capacity of the Scheme will continue to expand to accommodate national and international issues of interest to Nigeria as it discharges its traditional role of a leading National Service organization in Africa. As an endorsement of the significance and uncommon contribution of the Scheme to the development of Nigeria as a nation-state, some African countries have in the past requested the Scheme to assist in replicating the NYSC model in their respective countries. This eloquently testifies that the Scheme certainly is on the right track to accomplish its mission statement of being the leading light of youth organisations in Africa.

I wish to use this auspicious moment to pay tribute to the founding fathers of the Scheme who bequeathed this enduring platform for the promotion of national development, unity and integration. I also salute all Nigerians who have served in the Scheme at various times since its establishment, as well as its past and present managers for the show of patriotism, dedication and selflessness that have kept the vision of the founding fathers alive.

Before I end my address, permit me to appeal to you, our media partners, to be circumspect in publishing stories taken from the social media about the Scheme. There is the need to always conduct proper investigation in order to avoid fake news reportage. Recently, there was a story published online with the gory picture of an individual purported to be a tortured Corps Member. We have already debunked the story as a mischievous concoction for which the author had made a public apology since 2017. Our doors are always wide open for you to make clarifications on any issue to enable you balance your stories.

Finally, I once again thank you for your support over the years. It is our hope that you will not relent as we continue to strengthen our relationship as partners-in-progress for national development and integration.

Thank you and God bless.

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