As politicians and the media take us to and through the maze of possibilities, permutations, and speculations around 2023 as a prologue to a new beginning in Nigeria, here is a topic for debate and a suggested agenda for those planning to govern in 2023: Let’s reform or abolish the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Aside: If you’re over 50 years old today or younger but know about Nigeria’s past, I know what you’re thinking and can guess your face expression when you see Kila writing about NYSC. Yes, I’m laughing as well, so please enjoy yours as well.
The most obvious argument for reforming or disbanding the NYSC is for safety reasons, however this is a minor but important concern. The country’s security situation has dampened potential corps members’ feeling of adventure and turned the feel and smell of NYSC into anxiety. As a result of today’s arrival of the NYSC call in Nigeria, parents and guardians of young certified learned individuals on the verge of being asked to join the NYSC pray and fast that their children are not transferred to dangerous areas of the country. Many Nigerians pledge to find out who can affect their posts in addition to fasting and praying. Is it possible to blame them with knowledge and conscience? The connection between their worry and acts of nepotism and corruption is self-evident.
Let us remind ourselves that the NYSC is a one-year required service program for graduates under the age of 30 who have completed their tertiary degree. A kind of conscription for graduates established by military decree in 1973 as part of attempts to repair, reconcile, and rebuild Nigeria following the civil war. One of its key goals was to serve as a platform for the development of shared bonds among Nigerian youths and to promote national unity. The establishment decree was Decree No. 24.
Regardless of how you feel about the NYSC, I believe it is safe to say that the organization’s profile, configuration, and manner of operation would be quite different if it were created through a democratic process rather than in response to a dramatic crisis like war. Military decrees and executive orders of any kind are usually fast, but they are rarely capable of taking into account sensibilities or long-term viability. A democratic democracy should not be driven by decrees, and civil society should scrutinize laws and procedures enacted under military and emergency conditions as much as feasible.
The NYSC’s goal is to give young graduates the opportunity to learn about sections of the country, people, and cultures that are unfamiliar to them, in order to make them more Nigerian. This appears admirable, but upon closer inspection, a question arises: why is it the government’s responsibility to push young Nigerians to travel to other regions of the country? The mindset that comes up with such a concept is one that values identity over functionality. It’s a clumsy and incorrect method of thinking. Nigerians do not distrust each other because they are strangers. Nigerians are distrustful of themselves because those in power fail to offer enough services and opportunities for all, preferring instead to ration insufficient services and opportunities through nepotism, tribalism, and other types of favoritism, all of which are done at the expense of merit.
Read Also: 2021 Batch ‘C’ Stream II NYSC Orientation Course: Screening, Covid Rapid Diagnostic Test of Prospective Corps Members and Camp Officials
The classroom is a location where students can learn about people, places, and cultures. If one must go, then let the national tourism business flourish. Allow state governments to concentrate on making their states more appealing to the curious, needy, and daring. Let the Federal Government ensure that the constitution reigns supreme, allowing any Nigerian to live within the confines of the law in any region of the country.
In practice, the NYSC is a commonly employed method of compensating for the country’s major shortcomings, such as teaching. It’s astonishing how we as a society fail to recognize the deadly folly of permitting youth corpers to teach in our classrooms rather than insisting on professionally qualified teachers who want to be in the profession. I’ve got some information for you: Knowing Math, Economics, Biology, or Literature is one thing; knowing how to teach them is another. The fact that we ignore this simple reality speaks volumes about our attitude toward education and is one of the major reasons why our educational system is failing.
Since the New York State Service Corps was founded in May 1973, a lot has changed. The simplest solution is to abandon the plan. We have two years to figure out what we’re going to do with it. Many of those slated to service by 2023, when a new administration takes office and the NYSC turns 50, will most likely be young adults born in 2000. It’s generation Z we’re talking about here. The concept of regulating Generation Z using 1973-era laws and schemes is absurd and doomed to fail.
Curriculums are currently being updated to fit Gen Z, as my colleagues certified teachers are aware. It’s pointless to call them spoiled, odd, or overpampered; they’re simply different. We have the misfortune of dealing with a new breed of human species born into a digital and highly networked environment, and evolution is real. For them, everything is optional. They don’t understand coercion; penalties and threats are foreign and meaningless to them. They were created to be motivated, rewarded, and acknowledged.
The simplest solution is to abandon the plan. We have two years to figure out what we’re going to do with it. If we do not want the NYSC to be disbanded, we have the following options: Let’s make NYSC a specialized and elective program. Allow only those who wish to join to do so for one year, after which they will have the choice to join the armed forces, customs, police, and other security agencies as trained graduates, depending on their interests and abilities.