The statement by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State that the National Youth Service Corps scheme keeps alive the dreams of Nigeria’s founding fathers is false because no such dreams really ever existed and worse still, the NYSC has become a real mess and waste of scare resources.
The NYSC has completely lost its relevance and has become a tool of affliction and distress for Nigeria’s elite youths who, at the prime of their lives, are left disillusioned during their service year.
To subject youths who have gone through a minimum of 16 years of education, many at great cost to families and communities, to this harrowing experience at the start of their graduate life is wickedness in high places.
A majority of them are posted to areas where they experience accommodation problems and then faced with the challenges of finding places of primary assignment.
Many others are posted to the North-Central, North-East and North-West, areas prone to violence, death and destruction due to herdsmen terrorism, cattle banditry and Boko Haram terrorism.
Throw in perennial killings along religious and ethnic divides in these violence-prone areas, only wickedness can explain subjecting the best educated youths in the country to such hazards.
Many more get posted to primary and secondary schools as their places of primary assignment yet lack any teaching skills and worse experience language barriers.
These NYSC members are used as cheap substitute teachers by government in many states of the federation who have no desire to employ permanent teachers.
Many more of these NYSC members are utilised by private sector businesses as cheap labour to maximise their profits on which they pay little or no taxation to government.
The sight of these NYSC members roaming the streets in the towns and cities where they are posted, looking for places to serve during the service year is very common.
The monthly stipend paid to the members during their service year is so meagre that it can hardly cover their feeding costs yet they are expected to also use that for accommodation and transport.
Meaning that many of these NYSC members are forced to rely on their parents and guardians for financial support, further adding to their financial burdens.
Also, many NYSC members die or are maimed yearly due to road accidents mainly caused by deplorable road conditions across the country and the activities of kidnappers and armed robbers.
Even the NYSC has itself admitted that more corps members die during the service year from road accidents than from any other cause and others die from medical and other health facility inadequacies.
During the 2011 general election, many NYSC members who participated as ad hoc election officials were on the receiving of irate mobs and some were killed in the process, victims of political intolerance.
I recall a notable politician saying that the lives of these NYSC members killed during their national service due to electoral violence was not more valuable than the lives of others who were killed in 2011.
Many more of these NYSC members, unsure of what lies ahead during their service year, go ahead to influence their posting to states and areas where they can be secure.
Some of them arrange to forfeit their allowances to greedy officials to avoid serving altogether and still get their NYSC discharge certificates.
Still many others go ahead to procure fake NYSC discharge certificates like former finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, or like the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, bluntly refuse to serve, damning the consequences.
Even the reluctance of Mr. President to take action against Kemi Adeosun and Adebayo Shittu, who continues to serve as a minister, is a tacit acceptance of the irrelevance of the scheme.
Youths represent the energy of the future and to continue to harness that energy for the NYSC scheme is a complete waste of their time and a challenge to their youthful endeavour to embark on initiatives.
2019 will make it the 45th anniversary of this initiative which, if truth be told, has completely failed to enhance the unity and prosperity of Nigeria in any way whatsoever.
The results of the NYSC failing are there for all to see, the current insecurity, lack of unity among the over 300 ethnic groups and lack of economic prosperity in the country.
It is time to end the NYSC and redirect the abundant resources to something else.