NYSC @48: Gen. Ibrahim’s midas touch

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Since its introduction nearly five decades ago, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme has fostered unity among young Nigerians from different tribes and background across the nation. The scheme, though, under President Muhammadu Buhari and Brigadier Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim has outdone its mandate.
The NYSC is one national asset which has benefitted tremendously from President Buhari’s impactful leadership. And the sche under the leadership of Brigadier Gen. Ibrahim, as it’s Director- General has greatly harvested and it’s still plucking the fruits of the Buhari Presidency’s focused leadership, more than any other time in it’s history of 48 years.
NYSC is 48 years; merely eying two more years ahead to beat the drums of it’s golden jubilee anniversary. Since its creation in May 1973, the NYSC  has had many senior Army officers directs its affairs  as the Director General.
In fact, the current Director General of the scheme, Brigadier Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim Ph.D, is the 18th DG. The native of Nasarawa LGA of Nasarawa State assumed the position on 10th May, 2019. And within just two years in office, Gen. Ibrahim  has been able to competently impose his leadership excellence on the scheme to enviable and unimaginable  heights.
Until his appointment to succeed Major General Suleiman Kazaure, Gen. Ibrahim’s leadership acumen exposed him at  the Nigerian Army University, Biu, in Borno State, where he served as it’s pioneer registrar. The NYSC was in desperate need of a redeemer and President Buhari sighted the trusted credentials in Gen. Ibrahim.
The NYSC boss’s excellent performance in office barely two years is not surprising and an apt  testimony of his belief and convictions as an unwevering  apostle of the #NextLevel agenda of the Buhari Presidency.
Gen. Ibrahim  has a track record of building people and institutions as well as attracting solid development for national growth.
Posted to  NYSC, meant a platform  and a familiar terrain had been delivered on his hands for salvationary overhaul.
Gen. Ibrahim’s massive successes as  the DG of the NYSC is tethered to his stint with the scheme from 1996-1999 as Military Assistant to the then DG, Brig. General S.M. Dule.  His firm background as an academic and his vast experience in administration due to his previous responsibilities has been felt immensely during his two years of grooming vibrant,  educated and aspiring  youths of the country.
As a leader  with foresight and as someone with  set targets  to uplift the NYSC, Gen. Ibrahim immediately rolled out his plans for the scheme as soon as he assumed office in 2019. His agenda as he stated when he took over office was to “sustain effective utilization of the potentials of Corps Members for optimal benefit; to pursue a technologically driven organization to deepen effective service delivery; to improve on the welfare and security of corps members and staff; strengthen existing collaboration with stakeholders; and reinvigorate NYSC ventures and Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme in line with the NYSC Act for greater impact.”
These were the identified fulcrums  of his vision from the outset. There is no doubt today that barely two years in office,  and despite the challenge posed by the outbreak of COVID-19 for the most part of 2020, NYSC has birthed most of it’s set targets under the incumbent Director General.
First, his agenda to make the scheme a technologically driven organization to deepen effective service delivery has been put to effect. The NYSC scheme was hitherto known for mobilizing unqualified graduates with fake or questionable degree certificates, obtained from unrecognized schools or outrightly, the famed “Oluwale certificates” stuff.
For the first time in the history of the scheme, Gen. Ibrahim quickly dialogued  with relevant stakeholders of some African educational institutions, where major decisions were adopted to curb the trend.
Today, the deployment of ICT solutions to drive the operations of the scheme for greater efficiency has been sustained by the administration of Ibrahim.  And most of the illegal institutions that were producing fake graduates especially in the West African sub-region have been noted and blacklisted.
The Director General  had sternly warned people with dubious intentions of compromising the integrity of the mobilization process to desist as they will certainly be caught and made to face the consequences. He asserted  that “Under my watch no unqualified person will be allowed to participate in the NYSC.”
His stern and uncompromising posture  has sent shivers into the spines of some unscrupulous elements, who would have tarnished the image of the scheme. The initiative has been heartwarming such that some foreign and local prospective corps members with questionable academic credentials have been uprooted,  apprehended and dealt with.
The increase in the allowances of the Corps members has been another milestone achieved under the NYSC’s  leadership of Gen. Ibrahim. This is in line with his agenda to improve the welfare and security of corps members and staff. Under his watch and through his consistent engagement with the relevant stakeholders, there has been a review of corps members’ allowance from N19, 800 to N33, 000, based on the increase in the remuneration of public servants in the country.
He has also ensured that entitlements of staff are promptly settled, while also intensifying the level of capacity building and training to enhance the productivity of the NYSC staff. The scheme has also witnessed staff promotion exercises that have led to the elevation and promotion of deserving  staff of the scheme to higher ranks under his watch.
More soothingly, both staff and corps members have overcome the nightmare of delayed or unpaid legitimate  salaries /allowances. Under Gen. Ibrahim,  bank  alerts hits accounts before end of every month.
Again, the Brigadier General Ibrahim leadership of the NYSC scheme has finalized arrangement with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for the enrolment of Corps Members into the NHIS to provide health care to the corps participants. This shows the commitment of the current leadership towards effective healthcare of the corps members during their service year. There have also been collaborations with various security agencies so as to ensure the safety of youth serving the country.
And as a soldier  of profound intellect and knowledge, Gen. Ibrahim has made collaboration with all  relevant stakeholders a mandate or focal policy  of his administration of the NYSC. He has gone round the country, putting heads with the relevant stakeholders to remind them of their statutory responsibilities and obligations to the scheme as enshrined in the NYSC Act. And this has yielded positive results, as hitherto apathetic stakeholders have woken up from slumber in the discharge of their duties to NYSC.
Already, the engagements have started yielding results through the provision of befitting Orientation Camps and maintenance of same; provision of accommodation for corps members, accommodation for Area Offices and State Secretariats, release of states  subvention, security of corps members and support for the Scheme’s Community Development Services. It has never been this good!
Also under  Gen. Ibrahim leadership, the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme (SAED) has been reinvigorated and made compulsory for all corps members. This has helped to engage the corps members in practical skills that have proven to be  self-sustainable and beneficial to corps members in the post- service year,  especially as there are few job opportunities in an already saturated labour market.
There have also been consistent engagements with many of the scheme’s existing partners and potential ones that are yielding results.  Again, the collaboration with Access and Unity Banks to fund Business Plan Development programmes for Corps Members, partnership with the British American Tobacco Nigeria Foundation (BATNF) for empowerment of corps members with agricultural skills and business training, farm internship, mentoring and farm input supplies have offered a lot in this direction. These  are positively turning around the fortunes of rural communities in investments and agricultural engagements.
The NYSC Gen. Ibrahim has struck and depeened relations with International Labour Organisation (ILO) which has consummated  windows of utilizing the potentials of youths’ empowerment through employment and entrepreneurship skills development in Nigeria. Today, Nigerian corps members are proud  beneficiaries of  ILO’s “Start and Improving Your Business (SIYB) Management Programme.”
And in order to raise funds that will augment the scheme’s allocation from the federal government, the NYSC under Gen. Ibrahim has taken advantage of the agriculture initiative of the President Mohammadu Buhari administration, thereby raising funds for the smooth operation of the scheme. New tractors and other agricultural implements have been purchased for the NYSC rice farm in Ezillo, with a rice mill located in the same area. There is also a new rice mill that has been established for the NYSC rice farm in Kebbi State. Gen. Ibrahim has engaged all formerly forlorn NYSC farms nationwide and established fresh NYSC farms. It’s rice fields now cover up to 60,000 hectares and he plans to expand it.
The NYSC Bakery and Water Factory at the FCT Orientation Camp, Kubwa have been resuscitated, with the products made available to consumers in the FCT and Nasarawa State. All these are initiatives that are now raising revenues  for the scheme.
It is important to emphasize that the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria presented a leadership test and challenge which the scheme under Gen.Ibrahim rose up swifly and conquered it’s challenge. First, there was the need to keep corps members safe from contracting the deadly COVID-19 disease. The 2020 Batch ‘A’ Stream One Orientation exercise had to be suspended nationwide, yet serving corps members across the country played key roles.
With the support of the scheme, the corps members were able to produce hand sanitizers, liquid soaps and face masks that were donated to the Federal and State Governments, as well as communities to help in containing the pandemic. Corps medical personnel were sensitized and equally deployed to assist their senior colleagues in the medical field in battling the pandemic which unarguably posed  a formidable threat to humanity.
In his tireless efforts to secure the future of Nigerian young graduates, Gen. Ibrahim has also engaged stakeholders on the ambitious project to officially establish a legislation-backed   NYSC Trust Fund.
 The NYSC Trust Fund is intended  to source its funding from a percentage of profits of mega companies in Nigeria to financially empower passing -out corps members to start  independent work-life through  private investments from  the capital availed them by the Trust Fund. When it finally comes into fruition, which Gen. Ibrahim is vigorously pursuing, post service years would no longer be the tormenting nightmares of most corps members in the country.
 It is obvious that the Director General  is someone who understands the importance of information to the society. This is why under him, the NYSC has secured a license from the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to establish the NYSC Radio Station.  The radio station will also boost the publicity drive of the scheme, as well as serve as a training ground for corps members who have interest in broadcast journalism.
Overall, Brigadier General Ibrahim has introduced a unique administrative approach that resonates with staff, given his resolute stand for discipline.  With his rare qualities, unique disposition and cutting-edge leadership, Gen. Ibrahim has clearly demonstrated that he is a man on a mission.
No doubt, the NYSC is in safe hands and certainly on the path to more achievements under Gen. Ibrahim, hence President Buhari is poised to deepen his focus on its absolute perfection.

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