NYSC@50: DG applauds Nigerian media, highlights scheme’s Strides

The Director-General, National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Brigadier General Yusha’u Dogara Ahmed has commended Nigerian media for standing by the NYSC over the years in its efforts to actualize the dreams of the founding fathers of the Scheme, through effective coverage, analysis, commentaries and constructive criticisms on issues affecting the Scheme which enabled the scheme to enthrone the culture of transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in its operations.

Brig Gen YD Ahmed made this commendation at the media chat with Editors/Bureau- Chiefs held on 16th May, 2023 at the NYSC National Directorate Headquarters,

“Gentlemen of the press, you will agree with me that 50 years in the life of an individual or organization is a great milestone.
“For us as a Scheme, this is a moment worthy of celebration, and one for deeper reflection. This forum offers the opportunity for review of the activities, achievements, challenges and prospects of the Scheme. I, therefore, thank you most sincerely for honouring our invitation”. NYSC DG stated.
The DG who in his speech further applauded members of the press collaboration in pursuit of the Scheme’s mandate,said the media interaction offered the opportunity for review of the activities, achievements, challenges and prospects of the Scheme.
He also highlighted strides recorded by the Scheme’s past and present management.
The media interaction was part of the activities to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the National Youth Corps.
The NYSC DG speech read in full:
I am pleased to welcome you all to this media interaction, taking place as part of the activities to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the National Youth Corps. I am indeed grateful to the Almighty God for His grace, which has brought us this far in the pursuit of the Scheme’s mandate. I wish to also express our profound gratitude to you, members of the press, for standing by us over the years in our efforts to actualize the dreams of the founding fathers of the Scheme. Your effective coverage, analysis, commentaries and constructive criticisms on issues affecting the Scheme have enabled us to enthrone the culture of transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in our operations.
Gentlemen of the press, you will agree with me that 50 years in the life of an individual or organization is a great milestone.
For us as a Scheme, this is a moment worthy of celebration, and one for deeper reflection. This forum offers the opportunity for review of the activities, achievements, challenges and prospects of the Scheme. I, therefore, thank you most sincerely for honouring our invitation.
Given that this event is organized to mark the 50th anniversary of the NYSC, it is apt to refresh our memories with a brief history of the Scheme. The National Youth Service Corps was established by Decree No. 24 of 22nd May, 1973, later repealed and replaced by Decree No. 51 of June 1993, which is now an Act of the National Assembly, quoted as NYSC 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 Military 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 galvanizes the Nigerian graduate youths of thirty years of age and below for the promotion of national unity and development, through its four cardinal programmes. Its objectives 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:
a) Equitable distribution of members of the service Corps and effective utilization of their skills in areas of national needs;
b) That as far as possible, youths are assigned to jobs in States other than their States of origin;
c) That such groups of youths assigned to work together are representative of Nigeria as far as possible;
d) That the Nigerian youths are exposed to the modes of living of the people in different parts of Nigeria;
e) That the Nigerian youths are encouraged to eschew religious intolerance by accommodating religious differences;
f) 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;
g) 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 their States of origin.
As earlier stated, the Scheme has four cardinal programmes, which mainstream the activities of Corps members. They are Orientation, Primary Assignment, Community Development Service and Winding-up/Passing-out activities. Every Corps Member must successfully pass through these cardinal programmes to qualify for discharge and issuance of the Certificate of National Service at the end of the twelve months.
Since the establishment of the NYSC, successive managers of the Scheme have been committed to the pursuit of its mandate with the support of the various tiers of government and other stakeholders. In line with the vision of its founding fathers, and as a dynamic and result-oriented agency, deliberate steps have continued to be taken to reposition the Scheme for greater performance. Indeed, the results have been heartening as the Scheme has made invaluable contributions to the socio-economic development of the country in the last five decades to the admiration of all stakeholders. The following, among other modest achievements, have made the NYSC a household name in Nigeria:
• Fostering of national unity and integration:
The policy of deploying Corps Members to States other than their States of origin has helped in giving Corps participants broader understanding of the country, especially as they experience first-hand the socio-cultural similarities and peculiarities of their host communities. Over the years, inter-tribal marriages among serving and ex-Corps Members have continued to enhance better understanding among youths, who meet in the course of the National Service. Many ex-Corps Members have also become permanent residents and contributors to the socio-economic development of their States of deployment.
• Education:
NYSC has been contributing to the development of education through the posting of Corps Members to teach in schools at all levels. This is in addition to the activities of the Corps Mass Literacy Group, with the cardinal mandate of reducing illiteracy to the barest minimum in Nigeria.
• Healthcare:
Corps Doctors and paramedics have continued to serve in public hospitals, especially Primary Healthcare Centres, all over the country. Furthermore, Corps Doctors and other medical personnel have been using the platform of the Community Development Service to carry out medical outreaches in various communities.
• Infrastructure:
Corps Members have impacted numerous communities through projects executed on the platform of the Scheme’s Community Development Service. These include school structures, health facilities, water boreholes, culverts, road construction and many other projects that dot the entire landscape of the country.
• National Programmes:
The Scheme has always mobilized Corps members for participation in the implementation of various national programmes such as:
(a) The National Population and Housing Census, immunization and national elections. NYSC partnered with other organizations to halt and mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS, Ebola and the COVID-19 pandemic through sensitization of the public on prevention and care.
(b) Awareness creation for the erstwhile Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), now Sustainable Development Goals. The Scheme also participated actively in the conduct of the World Survey whose outcomes inspired the ideas of the new SDGs.
(c) Legal Aid Services, crusade against corruption, road safety awareness, and campaign against drug abuse and trafficking, among others.
It is appropriate to also use this opportunity to highlight some of the milestones recorded by the Scheme over the years.
i. Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED)
The Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme was introduced in 2012 as a deliberate step to complement government’s effort to curb youth unemployment. The SAED programme is designed to equip Corps Members with vocational skills while also developing their entrepreneurial capacities for self-employment and wealth creation. Corps Members are trained in skill areas such as agro-allied; food preservation and processing; culture and tourism; cosmetology; Information and Communication Technology; environment; beautification; construction; education; power and energy; film and photography; and automobile technology. The Scheme is collaborating with national and international organizations with a view to attracting technical as well as material and financial support for the programme.
While efforts to advance the implementation of the programme have been consistent, it is pertinent to acquaint us with some of the milestones made in the past eleven years:
a) Sensitization of 1,925,142 Corps Members on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship with 517,486 receiving trainings in the skill areas earlier mentioned. Thirty-seven thousand, two hundred and forty-six (37,246) of them have established verifiable, successful and thriving businesses.
b) Construction and equipment of mega Skill Acquisition Centres for the North East Zone in Gombe; North West Zone in Jigawa; South West in Ekiti; and North Central Zone in Keffi, Nasarawa State.
c) Successful partnership with funding institutions such as the Central Bank, the Bank of Industry, Access Bank, Unity Bank and the Bank of Agriculture, among others, on the provision of start-up capital for Corps Entrepreneurs resulting in the disbursement of N1.84 billion to beneficiaries.
d) Entrepreneurship training for 40 SAED officers by two multinationals, the General Electric and Cognity Advisory, using the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) curriculum. The officers are in turn training and mentoring Corps Members on development of business plans.
e) International Labour Organization’s sponsorship of nine (9) schedule officers for capacity building and technical assistance in Turin, Italy to aid the implementation of the programme.
f) Sponsorship of eight (8) staff by the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria for various vocational education training programmes in China.
g) Collaboration with Unity Bank on funding of Business Plan Development programmes for Corps Members to enhance their capacity to attract funding. The Bank is currently financing a business plan competition among Corps Members in five States on a pilot scale. Since the commencement of the competition during the 2019 Batch ‘B’ Orientation Course, twenty-four (24) Corps Members have so far benefitted.
h) Partnership with the British America Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) on agro-skill acquisition and financial empowerment package. Through this, ten Corps Members are selected from a competitive process for empowerment with agric skill and business trainings, farm internship, mentoring and farm input supplies and finance to the tune of five million naira for the highest prize.
i) Partnership with Leventis Foundation Nigeria on training, mentorship and empowerment of Corps Members in agric business.
j) Partnership with Enterprise Development Centre, which has benefitted 140 Corps Members.
k) Access Bank Lions’ Den partnership, which is offering a package of business funding and mentoring totaling Three million Naira (N3,000,000.00).
l) Considering the fact that not all Corps Members will eventually be self-employed, we are currently working with IT companies to perfect the NYSC CV and Job Portal (www.nysc.jobs.org), which serves as a platform for interaction between job seekers and prospective employers.
m) Increased interest and participation of Corps Members in various entrepreneurship development programmes as a result of our sensitization strategies.
ii. The NYSC Ventures Initiative:
The NYSC Ventures were established primarily to serve as avenues of vocational and entrepreneurship training for Corps Members in addition to meeting some of the basic needs of the Scheme such as provision of kits for the Corps Members.
The Ventures include:
a) Garment Factories located in Anambra, Nasarawa and Niger States currently producing a significant percentage of the kit items used by Corps Members; Rice Mill in Ebonyi; Feed Mill in Lagos; and Garri Processing Factory in Kwara State;
b) Water Bottling Plants and Bakeries in FCT and Nasarawa State;
c) Printing Press in Kaduna, with plans underway to establish similar ones in five other geopolitical zones.
d) NYSC Farm settlements in the FCT, Bauchi, Kebbi and Oyo States, which are in full operation, equipped with modern implements and Corps Lodges. They also serve as training grounds for Corps Members under the agricultural component of the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme.
iii. Digitization of NYSC Operation:
• The ICT Department, which was established in 2012, has been facilitating the deployment of ICT solutions in the operations of the Scheme for greater efficiency. The Scheme has since migrated from analogue to computer-based operations through our Online Integrated System. The full computerization of the mobilization process, which started with the 2014 Batch ‘C’ service year, has brought in its wake the following achievements:
• Online upload of Senate/Academic Board Approved Lists by Corps Producing Institutions (CPIs);
• Online Registration by both Local and Foreign-trained Prospective Corps Members;
• Online Registration by Part-time graduates;
• Online Printing of Call-up Letters;
• Biometric Verification and Registration during Orientation programmes;
• Online Processing of Relocation of Corps Members;
• Automated printing of Certificate of National Service, Exemption Certificate and Exclusion Letters embossed with passport photographs;
• Real-time generation of various reports from Corps Data; and
• Use of biometrics for the monthly clearance and weekly CDS attendance clearance for Corps Members.
Our effort on digitization has enthroned the culture of integrity, enhanced efficiency and ease of doing business. It has particularly ensured the enhancement of the credibility of the Mobilization process. This attracted the endorsement of relevant bodies, especially with the conferment of the NITDA/Nihilent Award for Best MDA in innovative application of ICT solutions on the Scheme at the e-Governance Award Ceremony held in 2016.
The Scheme has established Radio and Digital Satellite Television Stations. Both stations (NYSC Radio 88.3 FM and NYSC TV on TSTV Channel 365) were inaugurated by the former Head of State and founder of the NYSC, General Yakubu Gowon on 14th April, 2022. The stations, manned mainly by Corps members, are already strengthening the operations of the Scheme by boosting its publicity drive. They also serve as training grounds for Corps Members, who have interest in media practice.
The establishment of the NYSC National Cultural Troupe was predicated on the need to provide a veritable platform for Corps Members to develop their talents in drama and cultural dance while at the same time harnessing such talents for possible endorsement by the Nation’s movie industry. The same objective informed the setting-up of the National Band. Both also assist in improving the revenue profile of the Scheme.
The Scheme has incorporated a film production outfit in a bid to harness the potentials of Corps members for education, sensitization, advocacy and entertainment as well as to generate revenue for the Scheme. This has resulted in the production of a movie titled: “Call to Service” and a short film “The Return”. The latter is on the need to shun violence during elections.
The NYSC Museum was established to ensure effective preservation of the Scheme’s artifacts and legacies, including Corps Members’ inventions and fabrications.
viii. 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 is presently seeking support of the Federal and State Governments towards improving the feeding of Corps Members during Orientation programmes, enhancement of transport allowance and provision of transit lodges, among others. We have also taken other measures in pursuit of the welfare of the Corps Members, including:
(a) 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. Our advocacy visits to the Police high command, Military formations, Department of State Services and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps largely ensured the safety of Corps Members during the just concluded general elections. I am using this opportunity to express our appreciation to the security agencies and other stakeholders for their support.
(b) NYSC Distress Call Centre
The Distress Call Centre (DCC) was established in 2012 and domiciled in the National Directorate Headquarters. 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 stakeholders in proximity to the distressed Corps Members. In view of the strategic importance of the facility and our desire to meet current challenges, we have transformed it to an information centre with toll-free lines. With this development, the Centre, in addition to responding to distress calls from Corps Members, Staff and members of the public, now also provides information on the operations of the Scheme to the Corps Members and other stakeholders.
(c) Health Insurance
The Scheme, in collaboration with the National Health Insurance Authority, is enrolling Corps Members into the National Health Insurance Scheme to provide free health care for them in line with the directive of Mr. President.
Management has made motivation of members of Staff 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 the Staff, including ensuring that their entitlements are paid as and when due as well as increasing the tempo of capacity building for enhanced productivity, amongst others. 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.
The efforts by successive administrations to reposition the Scheme and make it more responsive to prevailing national needs gave birth to various programmes and collaborations. These include:
A. 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 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the engagement of Corps Members to help administer all INEC-organized elections. It is on record that the participation of Corps Members in the 2011, 2015, 2019 and the just concluded 2023 General Elections contributed immensely to the improvement of the credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process – a fact that has been acknowledged with accolades by Nigerians and the international community. A pointer to this is the award of laptops and ICT accessories to 75 Corps Members selected from various States by the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS in recognition of their distinctive performance during the 2019 General Elections.
B. Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers
The Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers (HIRD) was launched in 2014. It is a platform on which the Scheme contributes towards addressing the challenges of rural dwellers, who experience difficulty in accessing regular health services across the country. Under the programme, quarterly nationwide medical outreaches are carried out, usually lasting one week. From the inception of the programme to date, over three million rural dwellers have been treated by the NYSC medical teams. Apart from the centrally coordinated outreaches conducted simultaneously, each NYSC State Secretariat also mobilizes Corps Medical Teams to conduct periodic ones in various communities. As part of this health intervention, the NYSC, in conjunction with Grace Projects International, donated over 300 wheelchairs to less privileged physically challenged persons across the country.
(C) ‘ENGINE’ Programme with Mercy Corps
The NYSC is in partnership with Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian organization, on a programme tagged: “Engaging Nigerian Girls in New Enterprise (ENGINE).” The programme provides after-school tutorials and skill empowerment for girls in secondary schools. Following a successful pilot scheme in Kaduna, Kano and FCT, the programme has since been extended to Lagos, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Kebbi, Sokoto, Adamawa, Borno, and Gombe States.
(D) NYSC/SDGs Project
The NYSC/SDGs Project is aimed at creating public awareness on policies and programmes of Government in relation to the SDGs, using trained Corps Volunteers as Development Knowledge Facilitators. The ultimate goal is to ensure that Nigerians become informed participants in the process of attaining sustainable national development.
In furtherance of our efforts to encourage Corps Members to embrace skills and entrepreneurship for self-reliance, the Scheme secured the support of the Federal Government through the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on the SDGs to float a programme tagged ‘War Against Poverty (WAP)’. It seeks to empower Corps Members with agro-skills and interest-free loans for self-employment and wealth creation, eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and boosting agricultural productivity for national food security, which are in tandem with some of the SDGs.
At the end of the training, Corps Members are empowered with interest-free loans repayable over thirty (30) months. So far, over 5,000 Corps Members have been fully empowered and are doing well as agro entrepreneurs.
In a bid to ensure effective implementation of the SAED programme, the Scheme is partnering with the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions to enhance the entrepreneurship training, mentorship and funding of Corps members’ businesses. The product of one of such partnerships is a programme tagged NYSC/CBN Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP) through which the CBN and Heritage Bank mobilized resources to provide start-up capitals for Corps entrepreneurs. Fifteen million (N15,000,000) was disbursed to seven Corps Members under the programme.
We are also in partnership with the Bank of Industry for funding of Corps Members’ businesses through the Graduate Entrepreneurship Fund (GEF). By writing bankable business proposals, each beneficiary is able to access loan up to a maximum of Three Million, Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N3,500,000.00) at zero interest rate. So far, over One Billion, Five Hundred Million Naira (N1,500,000,000.00) has been disbursed to Corps Members under the partnership.
(G) Other Collaborations:
In addition to the aforementioned, the Scheme also collaborates with several other organizations and agencies to execute specific programmes geared towards the development of the country and the empowerment of Corps Members. These collaborating agencies include:
i. National Agricultural Land Development Agency (NALDA);
ii. International Institute of Tropical Agriculture(IITA);
iii. Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute(ARMTI);
iv. National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization (NCAM);
v. National Cereals Research Institute(NCRI);
vi. National Directorate of Employment (NDE);
vii. Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency
of Nigeria (SMEDAN);
viii. Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM);
ix. Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC);
x. Legal Aid Council;
xi. Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related
Offences Commission (ICPC);
xii. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC);
xiii. National Primary Health Care Development Agency;
xiv. National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA);
xv. National Agency for Food and Drug Administration
and Control (NAFDAC);
xvi. National Population Commission; and
xvii. Pan African Institute for Global Affairs and Strategy
The President’s NYSC Honours Award Ceremony is a flagship programme of the Scheme, which was instituted in 1974 to reward Corps Members that distinguished themselves during the Service year. Criteria for the selection of awardees are predicated on outstanding performance in the four cardinal programmes 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 entrusted to a National Selection Committee of eminent Nigerians representing various agencies of government and interest groups. Over 1,400 ex-Corps Members have so far been conferred with the Award since its inception. The last edition, during which 110 awardees of the 2018 and 2019 service years were honoured, took place in February 2021. Another edition of the Award Ceremony is being proposed as part of the 50th Anniversary commemorative activities.
The NYSC Sports and Cultural Festivals are annual events staged to showcase the talents of Corps Members as 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-metre relay (male and female categories) and 100-metre dash (male and female categories). The cultural segment features competitions in drama, cultural dance and stand-up comedy. Preparation for this year’s festival is ongoing.
It is my desire to build on the achievements of my predecessors as NYSC administration is a continuum. Those of you, who were present on the day I assumed duty as Director-General of the Scheme, would recall that in my address at the ceremony, I unveiled the policy thrust of my administration which is focused on the following priorities:
 Improving security and welfare of Corps Members and Staff to engender optimal service delivery to the nation;
 Providing enabling environment for Research and Development for the advancement of the Scheme;
 Strengthening stakeholders’ engagement for the promotion of the frontiers of the Scheme;
 Enhancement of capacity building to stimulate efficiency and higher corporate performance; and
 Deepening the impact of the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) Programme.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are already striving to accomplish the aforementioned priorities. Moreover, I recently inaugurated a Think Tank to ensure the effective implementation of the policy thrust.
Since my assumption of duty, we have remained focused on actualizing my vision for the Scheme as encapsulated in the aforementioned policy thrust. The following are some of the modest achievements recorded so far:
i. Completion of the new ICT Centre at the NYSC Headquarters Complex;
ii. Participation of Corps members in the successful conduct of the 2023 General Elections;
iii. Completion, equipping and commissioning of the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Potiskum, Yobe State;
iv. Training of four hundred and eighty-six (486) members of Staff within the first Quarter of 2023 as part of our resolve to prioritize capacity development for higher performance. The breakdown of the trained personnel is as follows:
a. Three hundred (300) for middle-level officers’ training conducted in collaboration with AC-VEC Management Consult;
b. Eighty-seven (87) participated in pre-retirement training conducted in collaboration with Sycolns Synergy Limited;
c. Ninety-seven (97) attended Critical Thinking and Adaptive Leadership Course organized by the Nigerian Army Resource Centre; and
d. Two Deputy Directors attended Executive Education Programme on Leadership and Change conducted in partnership with the Nigerian Army Resource Centre.
v. Advocacy engagement with critical stakeholders leading to the following gestures of support by friends and partners of the Scheme:
a. Increased security cover for Corps members, Staff and facilities of the Scheme;
b. Inauguration of the new NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp in Bayelsa State; and
c. Donation of fifty laptop computers by a Non Governmental Organization ‘What Next Africa’ to aid operational efficiency of the Scheme.
Gentlemen of the press, permit me to also use this auspicious moment to review the roles of the various tiers of Government 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 pointed out at various forums, the NYSC Act clearly spells out the responsibilities of each of the three tiers of Government. While the Federal Government shoulders the largest part of the Scheme’s needs, the provision of Orientation Camp facilities, 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 statutory responsibilities of the State and Local Governments.
However, the level of response of many of the States and Local Governments to these responsibilities leaves much to be desired. We have sustained our advocacy engagements with a view to getting State Governments to undertake renovation and upgrade of Orientation Camp facilities. I wish to use this opportunity to renew our appeal to the State and Local Governments that are not discharging their statutory responsibilities to reconsider their stance and support the Scheme. The primary beneficiaries of the services are the indigenes and residents of the States.
In the same vein, we are intensifying sensitization on the provisions of the NYSC Act. This is to enable Nigerians to have better understanding of the Scheme, and play their roles towards achieving its noble objectives. For instance, many employers seem not to be aware of their statutory obligations to Corps Members serving in their establishments. We expected them to be above board so as to encourage the Corps members to be at their best in the course of the service.
May I at this point express our profound gratitude to Mr. President for the Federal Government’s unwavering support for the Scheme. We also thank the State and Local Governments that have been alive to their responsibilities as well as partner agencies for their abiding faith in the Scheme.
Given the yearly rise in the population of Corps Members, there is the need for commensurate increase in funding of the Scheme’s programmes and activities. Accordingly, during a meeting convened by the Management, representatives of State Governments, the FCT Administration and Local Governments advocated the establishment of the NYSC Trust Fund to reduce the burden of funding on the Government. The Bill for the establishment of the Fund, which has been passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly, is awaiting the assent of Mr. President.
The Trust Fund will go a long way in addressing the problem of graduate unemployment through the reinvigoration of our Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme. Apart from ensuring the availability of the required logistics for training, it will provide Corps Members with start-up capital to set up their businesses. This will give rise to larger number of Corps entrepreneurs that will in turn provide jobs for millions of other Nigerian youths.
It will equally address the infrastructural deficit faced by the Scheme through the provision and upgrade of facilities at the Orientation Camps and other operational bases as well as support Staff training for enhanced productivity.
Like any other government agency, NYSC faces some operational challenges, which we are doing our best to surmount. They include, but are not limited to the following:
(a) Paucity of funds;
(b) Inadequate facilities in many Orientation Camps in the face of the yearly increase in the population of Corps participants. It is pertinent to note that at inception in 1973, the number of the Corps members was 2,364. Today, the Scheme is mobilizing over 300,000 Corps Members annually. Sadly, some States are still operating Temporary Orientation Camps, some of which can hardly take up to 2,000 Corps Members;
(c) Rejection of Corps Members by some employers;
(d) Lack of Transit Lodges for Corps Members in many States;
(e) Declining interest in sponsorship of Corps Members’ Community Development projects; and
(f) Inadequate office facilities in the Scheme’s formations.
Despite the various challenges encountered during its 50 years of existence, the NYSC has been a remarkable success. By largely discharging its mandate, the Scheme has remained a national asset and a beacon of hope for the Nigerian youths. It has demonstrated that our youths can make greater contributions to national unity and development if their talents and skills are properly harnessed. In what represents an endorsement of its significance and uncommon contributions to national and global development, some African countries requested our assistance in replicating the Scheme.
Based on its antecedents and our firm resolve to sustain its relevance, I am confident that the future holds greater things for the Scheme. With proper funding and implementation, the SAED programme will achieve unimaginable feats. It is a platform, which, when fully developed, will drive Nigeria’s industrial revolution with the youths leading the charge.
In the face of competing demands that confront governments at all levels, it has become imperative for the Scheme to seek alternative ways of raising funds for its operations. With the on-going revitalization+n of the NYSC Ventures, coupled with the vast pool of skills and talents at its disposal, the Scheme will in the near future attain self-sufficiency in the production of food and kit items for Corps Members and earn appreciable revenue for the government.
Nonetheless, the establishment of the NYSC Trust Fund will surely address most of the challenges besetting the Scheme.
As we cross into the post-Golden Jubilee era, we are determined to expand the scope and capacity of the Scheme to accommodate more national and international issues of interest to Nigeria as it discharges its traditional role of leadership in Africa. The following are some of the steps that will be taken to sustain its relevance:
i. Development of a five-year strategic plan;
ii. Review of the implementation framework for the SAED programme to make it more functional; and
iii. Breaking new grounds in our partnership with the National Information Technology Development Agency, especially to enable Corps members explore greater opportunities in the digital economy.
No doubt, NYSC has lived up to its Mission Statement of being the leading light of youth organizations in Africa.
I wish to use this forum to pay tribute to General Yakubu Gowon for bequeathing to Nigeria, this enduring platform for the promotion of national unity, integration and development. I also salute successive Governments and managers of the Scheme for their efforts to sustain the dream of the founding fathers. To all that have participated in the Scheme since its establishment, I thank you for the show of patriotism, dedication and selflessness, which has kept the vision of the founding fathers alive.
Finally, I once again thank you, gentlemen of the press, for your support over the years. It is our hope that you will not relent as we continue to deepen our relationship as partners-in-progress for national development and integration.
Thank you and God bless.

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