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THE ESSENCE OF THE NYSC
Nigeria was amalgamated in 1914 by Lord Lugard chiefly for the sake of convenience of the administration of the territory annexed and governed by the British government. The immediate effect of the amalgamation was the bringing together of diverse ethnic groups and communities with different backgrounds, beliefs and ideologies. The country’s colonial and post-colonial experience was as a result of this unprecedented ‘marriage’ marked by bitter distrust, ethnic loyalty and group oppression that culminated in a bloody civil war.
The civil war left a deep scar and almost tore apart Africa’s most populous country. As part of the efforts to fast-track the country’s development and strengthen its unity, the National Youth Service Corp (hereinafter referred to simply as NYSC) was introduced in 1973 by virtue of Decree No. 24 of May 1973 as a mandatory one year scheme primarily aimed at involving the Nigerian graduates in the efforts to bring about cohesion among the many ethnic groups across the various geo-political zones.
Following from the foregoing and according to official sources, the scheme was created in a bid to “reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian civil war” It was the need to look beyond the present and to think of the future leadership of the country that necessitated the mobilization of certain categories of youths through the NYSC scheme.
Note that although the scheme was originally designed to include graduates of universities, college of education and polytechnics, it has since been narrowed down to comprise only graduates of universities and polytechnics. Note also that the law establishing the scheme has since been repealed and replaced by Decree No. 51 of June 1993.
There are many reasons for the establishment of the scheme and few of them are listed below, namely;
- To inculcate discipline in Nigerian youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry at work, and of patriotic and loyal service to Nigeria in any situation they may find themselves
- To raise the moral tone of the Nigerian youth by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievement, social and cultural improvement
- To enable Nigerian youths acquire the spirit of self-reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment
- To contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy
- To remove prejudices, eliminate ignorance and confirm at first the many similarities among Nigerians of all ethnic groups
- To develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Nigeria
- To promote the free movement of labour by encouraging corp members to seek employment all over Nigeria after their one year national service.
All of these and other reasons too numerous to mention are clearly spelt out in the aforementioned Decree No. 51. Whether the scheme has accomplished its purpose or not and whether it has outlived the reasons for its existence is a different issue entirely, an argument that has attracted opinions from far and wide and which has since become a matter of national discourse.
ADEYOJU ADEMOLA ADEWUYI