The National Youth Service Corps, NYSC has been commended for its leadership styles in overcoming critical challenges facing the Nation.
The scheme was particularly eulogized for its interventions in the areas of Covid-19 emergency interventions and thinking outside the box towards fighting the pandemic in the country.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two day public discourse on reinforcing critical institutions for National Development and sustainability in Abuja, an educationist, Professor Sam Okpe lauded the efforts of institutions such as the NYSC and the Joint Admission snd Matriculation Board, JAMB in maintaining its relevance in the country.
Okpe said when COVID-19 broke out, the NYSC scheme was suspended due to restrictions on movement and fear of the health risks to corps members.
He said shortly after the lifting of the ban on restrictions, the scheme swooped into action to see ways of assisting the government to curtail the spread of the virus
He said this prompted the NYSC leadership to approach the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (now the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19) to put strategies in place for the resumption of their activities.
Okpe said first on the agenda of the committee set up which comprised mostly of NYSC and NCDC staff was to “look at strategies that will ensure the safety of corps members while in camp to ensure that they keep building trust of the entire country, especially their guardians.”
“The team carried out a readiness and needs assessment, using a checklist, in all 37 camps in the country to ensure they were prepared to host corps members.
” As some of the camps were used as temporary isolation centres, it was important to ensure they were fit for the purpose of hosting orientation exercises. Once completed, they provided a checklist of things the camps must put in place before they could reopen”he said
Okpe said working with existing response infrastructure set up by the NCDC helped the process.
“The Disease Surveillance and Notification Officers (DSNOs) working with state epidemiologists and the Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System (SORMAS) were leveraged to monitor and report activities of public health importance in the camps.
“They also divided the graduates into streams to ensure no more than 800 were mobilised to be in camps at once. This is in contrast to the usual 10,000 to 20,000 before the pandemic. To further control the crowd, they were also assigned specific days to report to camp”he said.
He also added that technology played a key role in managing the process.
“Before accessing and printing their call up letters, the intending corps members were required to read NYSC guidelines developed by the NCDC and then acknowledge their willingness to adhere to them and other infection, prevention and control (IPC) guidelines, including being tested for COVID-19, before being admitted to the camps. After which they visited the SORMAS page to provide their travel history, medical history and now, their COVID-19 vaccination status. A unique code was then generated which they printed and presented at the gate, along with their call up letters.
Before being accepted into the camp, they were screened for COVID-19 using a rapid diagnostic test (RDT). Upon receiving a negative test result, corps members were able to proceed with registration while the surveillance team conducted a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test to confirm positive cases.
A social commentator, Austin Maho who also spoke at the session eulogized the role of the NYSC in leading the campaign against youth unemployment in the country.