The Nigerian national anthem stands as a poignant reflection of the aspirations of the nation’s founding fathers. It serves not just as a lyrical composition but as a guiding beacon, instilling a profound sense of purpose among citizens, regardless of age.That is why in the anthem, we pray that “…The labor of our heroes past, shall never be in vain…”
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was established in Nigeria after the civil war, specifically May 22, 1973, under Decree No. 24, with the primary objective fundamentally rooted in fostering national unity and integration in Nigeria. Envisioned as a unifying force, the NYSC aims to bridge the ethnic, cultural, and religious divides prevalent in the country while positioning youths to “…serve our fatherland with love and strength and faith…”
The NYSC plays a vital role in addressing contemporary needs and positioning the country globally. Beyond a traditional obligation, it equips young graduates with essential skills thereby fostering civic duty and unity. By engaging in community projects, participants contribute to local development, this is in a bid to break down cultural barriers. This interconnectedness enhances Nigeria’s international standing, showcasing the strength of its youth in advancing the nation’s international positioning.
This writer’s intention is to embark on a series dedicated to the NYSC. Specifically,for this phase our focus will hone in on particular objectives of the NYSC, examining each objective and offering brief overviews for a comprehensive understanding.
Promoting National Unity: At the core of the NYSC’s mission is the fundamental goal of fostering national unity and integration in Nigeria. Achieving this objective entails deploying young graduates to regions across the country, where they immerse themselves in diverse cultures and traditions. Through this cultural exchange, the program effectively nurtures a collective sense of national identity while simultaneously diminishing ethnic and regional tensions. This commitment to unity is not only integral to the NYSC’s ethos but also paramount in fortifying the bonds that hold the nation together.
Cross-Cultural Understanding: An essential objective of the NYSC scheme is to expose young graduates to the myriad cultures and languages present in Nigeria. By immersing participants in this cultural tapestry, the program helps to give the youths a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country’s rich diversity. This exposure not only broadens their perspectives but also plays a crucial role in breaking down prejudices and dispelling stereotypes. Through firsthand experience, participants gain insights that foster mutual respect, tolerance, and harmony, contributing significantly to a more unified and understanding society.
Community Development: A key facet of the NYSC experience involves active engagement in community development projects. Corps members dedicate their service year to initiatives such as, cleaning the environment, organising feeding expositions, constructing schools, healthcare facilities, and essential infrastructure. Additionally, they organise workshops and awareness campaigns, reaching out to diverse communities. This hands-on involvement significantly contributes to local development, elevating living standards in underserved areas. Through these impactful projects, the NYSC not only imparts valuable skills to participants but also leaves a lasting, positive mark on the communities they serve.
Skill Acquisition: The NYSC serves as a platform for young graduates to gain valuable skills through its diverse programs and training activities. By participating in these initiatives, participants acquire practical abilities that are not only beneficial for their future careers but also contribute significantly to their personal development. This emphasis on skill acquisition aligns with the NYSC’s broader goal of equipping the youth with the tools they need to excel in their professional pursuits. By equipping participants with practical and transferable skills, the NYSC not only invests in their individual growth but also enriches the nation’s talent pool, contributing to a more skilled and capable workforce.
Youth Empowerment: In its pursuit of comprehensive development, the NYSC places a significant emphasis on empowering young Nigerians. This is achieved through tailored entrepreneurship and vocational training programs. By addressing the pressing issue of youth unemployment, the NYSC equips graduates with practical skills, fostering self-reliance.
Disaster Relief: In times of natural disasters or emergencies, the NYSC can be mobilised to provide assistance and relief efforts, showing the organisation’s flexibility in responding to national crises. Although right now, a lot of corp members will laugh at the idea, it was the intention of the creators of the scheme.
Bridging Educational Gaps: The NYSC strategically deploys corps members to teach in remote or underprivileged areas. By offering their expertise ,corps members help to enhance access to quality education in regions that need it most. This initiative not only addresses immediate educational needs but also fosters a foundation for long-term societal development, empowering communities through knowledge and learning.
National Database: One of the pivotal functions of the NYSC is the maintenance of an extensive database comprising Nigerian graduates, which can be useful for various purposes, including recruitment by government agencies, research, and planning.
National Sensitization: The NYSC is used as a platform to sensitise young Nigerians on various national issues, including voter registration thereby combating political apathy in the youths, HIV/AIDS awareness, and environmental conservation.
The degree to which the act establishing the scheme has been fully operationalized remains a question that warrants further exploration. In the forthcoming works, we will meticulously dissect the act and its operationalization, seeking to provide more in-depth insights into this matter. We hope that you have found this discussion informative thus far, and we look forward to delving deeper into this important topic in the subsequent parts of our series.
Kayode Olatokun Esq.
Business Historian/Enterprises Coach