By Emmanuel Kolawole
The Director- General ( DG) of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim is a foresighted administrator. He is an administrative pathfinder of admirable qualities. In matters of public administration, he is like the famed seers of ancient days. He sees tomorrow with crystal clarity and begins to work on any obstacle today. His inclination to a prosperous Nigerian youths is unbeatable.
Since assumption of office, as the NYSC boss, Brigadier Gen. Ibrahim has been in ceaseless motion in the search for better ways to reposition the scheme to fully discharge its mandate. The DG has reactivated NYSC investment platforms; upgraded and modernized the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme. Obviously, corps members are savouring the gains of his repositioned NYSC in diverse ways.
Today, and in further pursuit of his dreams to bequeath a better scheme to Nigeria, the Brigadier General Ibrahim has launched a vigorous campaign for the establishment of the NYSC Trust Fund. When he first voiced the idea, skeptics might have probably assumed he is bluffing. But the national endorsements and acceptability of this proposal now is amazing, which is only comparable to the Biblical mustard seed.
The DG’s idea of an NYSC Trust Fund is to create partial or full financial autonomy for the scheme in funding its administrative operations and also, to assist graduate Nigerians privileged to pass through the scheme, a window to draw capital for their entrepreneurial exploits, after the post-service era. The investment capital which will be offered by the NYSC Trust fund to graduated Corps members is a formidable backup to the knowledge acquired in SAED. This is the motivation of Brigadier-General Ibrahim for his recommendation and loud preachments for the creation of a trust fund that would ensure the financial empowerment of all corps members after the national service year.
Graduate unemployment is one of Nigeria’s greatest headache. Brigadier General Ibrahim has envisaged an NYSC Trust Fund which will be backed by legislation and draw it’s funding from a stipulated percentage of profits of corporate bodies operating in Nigeria. It’s a simple, but brilliant idea that would change the fortunes of the scheme and its participants dramatically.
Surely, once the NYSC Trust fund is adopted, the number of young Nigerians who pass out from the scheme to face a bleak future by roaming the streets, and knocking on the doors of government offices in search of white-collar jobs would reduce drastically. The NYSC Trust Fund is designed to assist them with seed capital based on the stipulations of the Act establishing it, in order to try their entrepreneurial skills and possibly, morph into employers of labour. It’s a foundation to self-reliance and financial independence.
Truly, the moments of joblessness after graduation and the mandatory service year are frustrating and quite traumatic. It blights the joy and pride of citizenship. So, the DG conceived this idea as another method of tackling massive youth employment in the country.
The pride of every patriotic citizen is to render service to his nation. In Nigeria, the NYSC provides a veritable platform for the actualization of this aspiration for educated Nigerian youths below 30 years of age. And the excitement of service year, lingers long in the minds of young Nigerian graduates. Besides, the scheme has served as weapon for cultural and social integration among Nigerians.
But like other initiatives of the FGN, the NYSC has also faced it’s fair share of setbacks. From poor funding to maladministration, the scheme has tottered over the years. Notwithstanding, it has not closed its doors to innovations and improvements, with successive administrations in Nigeria. And from all indications, the NYSC’s moments of glory have berthed eventually under the leadership of Brigadier General Ibrahim.
This assertion also finds expression in the favorable disposition of President Muhammadu Buhari who is passionate about youth engagement and empowerment. Therefore, the President has seen the NYSC as a platform to railroad the transformation of Nigerian young graduates into formidable and productive citizens. His appointment of Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim to head the scheme was a conscious attempt at re-engineering and repositioning organization for the maximum benefits of Nigerian youths and Nigeria.
Therefore, the idea of the NYSC Trust Fund which started like a whisper is now trumpeted by all stakeholders and leaders. Almost every notable Nigerian has lent a voice in its support. They are at the forefront of reeling out the benefits of the NYSC Trust Fund.
The former Head of State, and founding father of the NYSC scheme, Gen. Yukubu Gowon (rtd) has not only accepted the idea of an NYSC Trust Fund, but has anointed himself a Chief campaigner for its immediate establishment. He is personally reaching out to the various arms of government, opinion leaders and stakeholders to ensure the idea comes to fruition. Gowon believes that the establishment of the NYSC Trust Fund will further strengthen the scheme through robust funding.
To the Chairman, House of Representative’s Committee on Youth Development, Hon. Yemi Adaramodu, an NYSC Trust Fund will conveniently address the subsisting challenges of infrastructural decay and funding which have strangulated the smooth operations of the scheme over the years. He sees the proposed NYSC Trust Fund as a vault that will provide ‘seed money’ for graduate youth entrepreneurs after the service year for the effective utilization of knowledge taught at the SAED.
Other foreseeable and solid impacts of an NYSC Trust Fund includes; unburdening State Governments from financial commitments on the scheme in the magnitude presently obtained. It is also another frontal attack on the menace of unemployment in Nigeria and an instrument of curbing the increasing rate of crime in the country by meaningfully engaging youths. The NYSC Trust fund will also provide funds for the expand NYSC Orientation Camps and the renovation of dilapidated camp facilities.
And most pleasantly, it is contemplated that the beneficiary will require no collateral or godfather to access the seed money offered by the trust fund. All Nigerians can attest to the viability of the scheme and how it has helped young Nigerians in various. That’s why when some members of the House of Representatives tinkered with the idea of scrapping the NYSC, Nigerians stood up in unison to resist the move. Earlier in the year, a report released by data bank and research organization (NOIPolls) indicated that over 83% of Nigerians resoundingly rejected the scrapping of the NYSC scheme for whatever reason.
So, some Nigerians are therefore, canvassing that when the NYSC Trust fund is eventually established, the duration of service should be extended to two years because of the significant roles teg scheme now plays in the life of the average Nigerian graduate. Nigeria’s National Assembly is implored to do the needful by initiating the Bill for the NYSC Trust Fund and expediently passing it into law for its take-off.
Kolawole is former PRO, National Association of Nigerian Students and wrote from Lagos.