BEING TEXT OF AN INTERDENOMINATIONAL SOLIDARITY/ PRAYER RALLY IN HONOUR OF NYSC GOLDEN JUBILEE ORGANIZED BY THE COLLEGE OF BISHOPS IMAMS AND CLERGY COUNCIL ON THE 26TH OF APRIL 2023 AT THE UNITY FOUNTAIN ABUJA
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, it’s an honour to welcome you to this historic event. Saint Ignatius of Loyola would regard gratitude is a virtue and ingratitude the highest of vices. In fact it’s an injustice of the highest order to fail to acknowledge and honour individuals and institutions that have distinguished themselves especially in very difficult and trying situations. For in honouring those who have served society with merit, will set a precedent and spur others to greater service and dedication to society. Inability to honour and show gratitude on the other hand breeds mediocrity and weakens the culture of excellence and productivity. It is on this ground that we are rolling out our drums to celebrate the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) for 50 years of excellence, integrity, and productivity.
One doesn’t need a lecture in history to know that the NYSC scheme started as a post-war reconstruction effort of the Gowon led Federal Government shortly after the infamous Nigeria Civil War. The scheme was birthed amongst other things to serve as bridge building institution where graduates across Nigeria will be posted to areas other than their states of origin and communities to mingle, interact and know about other cultures and tradition and hence reduce the suspicion that existed amongst tribes. It was hoped that as people interact, do business and get married, they’ll be less hostile and suspicious of each while picking cultural traits like dressing, language, foods and even intermarriage. It’ll therefore not be out of place to say that the cohesion and national unity that Nigeria has achieved so far is a direct product of the NYSC scheme. However, the scheme has done more and it’s important to mention a few.
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By far, the NYSC has been the highest employer of labour in Nigeria with millions of Nigerians as beneficiaries. In fact there is no family in Nigeria that does not have a member who has participated, is participating or will participate in future. This is commendable and it’ll be an injustice not to commend successive Director Generals (DG) and their teams for a seamless and hitch free flow of activities.
It is worthy to commend the transparency and integrity of the scheme in terms of financial management, staff and Corps members welfare. Since the inception of the scheme, there has never been a year the program was cancelled or a month when Corps allowances were delayed unlawfully. The scheme has prioritized welfare and remains one of the few agencies of government that has consistently increased it’s welfare package in keeping with economic realities at every point in time. The feeding and other welfare packages at Orientation Camps have always been exceptional. One wonders how the management gets its fund to execute top notch operations considering the corruption and rot in the Nigeria public sector. The truth is the scheme is corruption free and the credit must go to the gentlemen and dedicated staff especially the current DG for sustaining the legacies of this scheme.
Ladies and gentlemen, the NYSC aside promoting inter-tribal marriages and business interaction has also helped to sustain the Civil Service especially the the education and health sector. It is on record that I’m most states and communities, Corps members were the only teachers sustaining some schools especially in the rural areas. Some Corps members even worked as Head Teachers and Principals. It is also on record that many medical Corps members became heads of clinics and Primary Health Centers. It will therefore not ba an exaggeration to say that without the Scheme, the civil service would have collapsed in many states.
Elections in Nigeria were often marred by irregularities occasioned by biased adhoc staff and incompetent personnel until the services of Corps members were enlisted to salvage the situation. With the introduction of electronic voter registration and accreditation, it was necessary to look for qualified and patriotic Nigerian and the NYSC offered a pool of qualified persons. Despite the fears and skepticism, Corps member exercised the highest level of patriotism and dedication that has produced the best elections in the history of Nigeria. We are grateful and the only thing we can do as believers is to appreciate and commit the scheme into the hands of God for spiritual sustenance.
The scheme has also taken a pragmatic step in addressing the scourge of youth unemployment through a robust skill acquisition program. Instead of the usual orientation experience that involved only paramilitary drills, the Scheme thought it wise to incorporate skill acquisition programmes where seasoned artisans and craftsmen will come to teach Corps member’s various skills in the Camps. The reception and dedication to the project by Corps members bears witness to its usefulness and the fact that the scheme is interested in the holistic development of the Nigerian youth.
The most outstanding success story of the Scheme is perhaps the establishment of the NYSC Trust Fund yo which a Bill has been advanced and it’s awaiting assent. If this Bill passes through, the Scheme hopes to raise funds to support Corps members who pass through the one year compulsory Service after acquiring the necessary skills to he self employed and independent. This will not just create jobs and boost the Nigerianz economy but will take care of vices and all forms of criminality that come with poverty and idleness. Indeed Nigerians, especially governments at the three tiers and corporate citizens are eagerly waiting to pull resourcesz together to fund the Trust Fund for increased productivity and national development.
As we pray and show gratitude for impeccable service delivery of the Scheme, we mustz resolve more than ever to protect and safeguard Corps members wherever they find themselves. It is important to continue to drum support for the NYSC Trust Fund Bill and its assent so that Nigerian youths will forever say bye bye to unemployment. It will also be counterproductive for critics snd detractors to unnecessary target the scheme’s activities. If this persist, the youths who are beneficiaries of the scheme will bear the brunt more and that won’t be a patriotic gesture. You must also as members of the press continue to use your platforms to promote and elevate the scheme so that through its numerous activities, the ideas of one united, indivisible and prosperous Nigeria will be possible.
Bishop Abel Kings