The end of Nigeria’s Civil war in January 1970 saw the need to reintegrate the broken fabric of Nigeria’s existence. To achieve this, the government of General Yakubu Gowon in its wisdom established the National Youths Service Corps on May 22, 1973, to reignite the 3R – reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild, with a view to encourage and develop common bond among the youths of Nigeria, thereby achieving national unity.
The main objective of establishing the NYSC was to inculcate in Nigerian youths the garb of selfless service to their mother land, offer the spirit of oneness irrespective of culture and social background. Aside this, the need to look beyond the present, and give the graduating students, adequate guidance and orientation as regards the gaping need of Nigeria. It is also to re-energ the graduating students to be industrious, patriotic and be loyal in any situation they find themselves. It is to develop common ties among the Nigerian youths, promote national unity and finally expunge prejudices, discard ignorance and offering their skills in area of national need.
The operation of NYSC is designed to post participants to states other than their state of origin which gives them opportunity to mix with colleagues from different ethnic groups; social and family backgrounds. It gives them a leeway to learn the culture of the indigenes where they are serving. The camping known as orientation camp is for a period of (3) three weeks mainly supervised by military personnel as they are taking through drills and other forms of exercises to instill discipline, moral tone, self-reliance and develop skill for self-employment. At the end of three weeks, the corps members undergo “Passing out” ceremony after which they are posted to their Place of Primary Assignment (PPA).
The corps members work full time for eleven months, offer themselves for the final passing out parade and
are issued certificates of completion. Who is eligible to participate in the NYSC scheme? He / She must be a graduate, below age of 30 years upon graduation. For those above 30 years upon graduation, a certificate of Exemption is issued. A graduate who skips the NYSC Service year when he/she is below 30 years, is still eligible to serve even when he/she is 60 years of age. Those who are exempted from the one year compulsory service are those with disability or have served in the Military or Para-Military before admission into the University.
The merits of the National Youth Service Corps can be distilled from the objectives that set up the scheme. It is to develop the right aWtude through shared experience and suitable training.
Furthermore, it is to inculcate discipline in the Nigerian graduates, contribute to the growth of the nation’s economy. The NYSC is a platform that encourages religious harmony and exposes the youths to experience different types of life in different parts of the country. It gives the employers of labour to employ well equipped army of skilled graduates irrespective of their state of origin. Despite of the laudable achievements the NYSC have imprinted since its creation in1973 by the Gowon administration, the scheme is bedeviled by catalogue of complaints by members of the public and the graduating students. The criticisms are varied.
First is the remuneration. In this day of inflation, high cost of living and fall in GDP, N19,000 monthly cannot take a corper 2 weeks before the stipend depletes. The incessant killings of corps members especially during elections in the country have aggravated the resistance of parents to prevents their children from participating in electoral process. Thousands of corps members have been killed due to religious, ethnic or political violence.
Aside the issue of insecurity in Nigeria, many have questioned the relevance of the scheme as the result of the polarization of the country. Many Nigerians argued that it is a waste of time and a conduit pipe of unimaginable corruption. Some argued that employers of labour do not employ permanent staff as NYSC Scheme has provided means of recruiting cheap labour at no cost to the employers.