FEATURE ARTICLE

Thursday, July 26, 2018
[email protected]
Pikesville, Maryland, USA
NYSC AND THE NEED FOR AN OVERHAUL OF ITS LAWS

n life, nothing stays the same and everything is subject to change. Indeed, change is the only thing that is permanent. Looking at the trends of thoughts and various writeups on the NYSC in recent times, it is obvious that the scheme might be due for a thorough overhaul to be able to live up to its usefulness and relevance in the new global era. Too many omissions, commissions and inadequacies are beginning to come into the open and which must be urgently addressed in order to make the scheme serve Nigeria in more ways than it is currently serving. Its useful purpose of promoting patriotism and nationalism cannot be over stated and no amount is too much to be committed in this regard for our dear nation.

First, let me address myself to the most obvious shortcoming of the scheme and its operations which relate to the paucity of information. As educated as I am, I did not know this much about the NYSC until now that I have had to write about the scheme and the recent high-profile saga on Exemptions. Information about eligibility for discharge certification, exemption and exclusion should be within the public domain more readily as a matter of information sharing. Secondly, the NYSC should as a matter of routine organize annual awareness campaign for Employers of Labour and the public in general. Thirdly, Brochures, Posters and Leaflets should be available both in Nigeria and in Nigerian Offices abroad. This is the only way to guarantee that ordinary Nigerians cannot either claim or feign ignorance of the NYSC Laws.

Normally, one would expect that anybody above a certain age should not be thinking about ever serving or needing any formal letters or Certificates of Discharge, Exemption or Exclusion of any sort. This is one of my reasons for this article - to advocate a realistic seal off for Nigerians of particular ages after which no one will ever expect to ask of any sort of NYSC letter or certificates. Who asks for Primary School Leaving Certificates or Testimonials after the completion of University education? After completing, Primary, Secondary and University first degrees up to Doctorate levels, anyone above the age of thirty (not-too- young-to-run) should be exempted and allowed to put his/her skills to fruitful use for the nation on his/her chosen career. Should individuals be allowed to waste any further time in contributing to national progress and development with acquired knowledge and skills? Remember, that this is the prime of their age when they are most agile and productive. Rather, at this time of skills attainment, maturity and family state, the scheme should be made discretionary and not mandatory.

The above paragraph becomes important in view of the new law of the land which now allows a thirty-five-year-old Nigerian to aspire to the Presidency or the thirty-year old to run for State Assembly (the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Law). Should a President be disallowed for not having a Discharge Certificate, Exemption or Exclusion Letter? This new law has just made this NYSC law to become unnecessary, inappropriate and overtaken by events. It has thus become null and void and must be scrapped immediately. In the new era of youths' aspiration to leadership and governance, a new thirty-one-year old (31 years old)) Sebastian Kurtz, was elected as the President of Austria in 2017. In the light of the foregoing, all Nigerians (Diasporeans inclusive) over thirty (30) years of age, at time of first graduation OR at times of taking up appointments in Nigeria should be automatically exempted, except he/she desires to serve in the NYSC. It should henceforth be legislated to become a Discretionary Service instead of being a Mandatory Service for Nigerians in that age bracket over thirty.

It is ridiculous to expect a married person or an accomplished executive from Diaspora, to rub shoulders with a young, immature eighteen years old who is brilliant and lucky to graduate at an early age. Today 13 - 15 years old children have been known to obtain first and second degrees! The scheme had inadvertently put together apples and bananas for years! These are certainly not homogeneous in whatever sense of it. Worse still, in certain parts of the world (Southern Africa), at thirty-five years, an individual is already a grandfather or grandmother! How do you compulsorily put these two groups of people together in same scheme, grandmothers and young teenagers?

In recent times there had been calls and rumours about scrapping the NYSC scheme. These calls started because of some ugly experiences of Corp members and their parents and the various insecurity experiences around the nation. This writer will rather call for the retention of the scheme with better security and improvement in the lives of Corp Members and their handlers. People who handle these Corpers should be given some hazard allowances and benefits. As a para-military scheme, the welfare and safety of the Corpers and Staff must be enhanced to guarantee their retention. They need to be specially Insured against all sorts of hazards since they operate in miscellaneous (unsafe) environments of the nation. Usually in many States, they are the first point of call for dirty and dangerous jobs. To my mind, the scheme is very good for maturity building for the extremely young and pampered (Children) graduates to prepare them for life and the world of works.

This is also the best time to call the NYSC organization to order, with regards to the prevalence and presence of individuals as Touts in and around the NYSC establishments. All these miscreants should be sent away from the NYSC environments henceforth. 'Oluwole' should have no access to vital documents, Letters of Exclusion, Exemption and Discharge Certificates. This illegality gives the scheme a bad image and it must be stopped. All these documents should be treated as classified documents which should be handled and treated with utmost care. They are indeed 'sacred' by all means. They should not be within easy public domain to ensure their sanctity. NYSC needs some more dose of secrecy for enhanced credibility otherwise their vital documents will be hawked on the Oshodi Bridge of Lagos State! No wonder 'Agents' are giving their clients fake/forged Exemption, Exclusion and Discharge Certificates! All these must stop.

The time for a paradigm shift is now and the glorious NYSC needs a new look and immediate reform. It must retie its girdle and straighten up on its lapses. The ball is in the court of the government to review the NYSC laws accordingly, if it wants to attract the abundant Nigerian resources lurked in the Diaspora, to bring back home their expertise, to benefit their motherland Nigeria. I can assure you that if and when these NYSC bottleneck and hurdles are removed, there will be a free flow of Human Resources (Nigerian Citizens) from the Diaspora like never before. The resultant Brain Gain will not only stem the wave of Brain Drain but also get us closer to the promised land of being a world power with radical developments. The ever-improving infrastructures, the improved power sector, the new look transport system with super highways, the guaranteed security of lives and properties all over the country will encourage the return of our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, who have a lot to give back to their Motherland. This reality is why the NYSC bottleneck should be removed since its original intent and purpose was not to punish our new graduates. As long as there are Institutions - Universities, Colleges and Polytechnics in Nigeria, the NYSC can never be lacking in Corpers for national service and grooming venues for patriotism and nationalism.


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