The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme is a treasure waiting to be tapped into. Sadly, it is now losing its values and treasures to illegal exploitation due to lack of foresight.
The government spends very huge amounts of money on the scheme yearly, without maximising its resources and justifying such expenses. There is an increase in unemployed graduates.
It was once argued that if government could part with just half of the amount expended on each corps member as start-up capital, definitely, their lives wouldn’t be miserable after graduation.
This, it is argued, is better than a year’s service whose end result makes no significant difference.
But I do not support that school of thought. In fact, as long as Nigeria remains one, which I pray will forever be the case, the scheme should be sustained and responsibly funded.
However, to fully realise the numerous untapped benefits of the NYSC and engender wealth and unemployment reduction, many changes must be made.
Firstly, the national value of integration must be introduced as a compulsory course for all final-year students in tertiary institutions.
Full knowledge and understanding of the course must be required before mobilisation and registration for the NYSC scheme.
Entrance examination should be required at the NYSC camp before candidates are fully admitted on merit. This will further show that the scheme is not a fluke and that Nigerians must see one another as one irrespective of tribe, race, ethnicity or religion.
It will also fish out fake and incompetent students, ensuring that the scheme upholds its values. The scheme should not be for everyone, but for serious-minded and deserving young graduates who have great and genuine intentions to serve their fatherland.
Secondly, I wonder why pregnant graduates intending to serve their fatherland should do so in their condition. This issue must be looked into. The authorities should place high premium on women’s health.
Thirdly, only fully fit graduates should be allowed into the scheme.
Redeployment should be granted only on the ground of religious crisis or disease outbreak.
Lastly, agriculture could change the face of the scheme positively and provide jobs for more than 70 per cent of graduates after their one year service.
All states, including the FCT, should provide farmlands for this purpose.