The Director General of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim said that over 5 million Nigerian have passed through the scheme since inception, thereby underlining the need to sustain the programme and build on it for the good of the country.
Gen. Ibrahim said corps members who passed through the scheme have gone on to excel in different fields of human endeavours and contribute in no small measures to the cohesion, integration and development of the country.
While speaking as a guest on one of Channels Television’s flagship programmes, Sunrise Daily, and monitored by RovingNaija on Wednesday morning, the DG informed viewers that the NYSC scheme has many skill acquisition programmes which has helped some former corps members to start and sustain their own businesses, build houses and employ members of the society.
“We have some former corps members who are training others for free because they benefited from various skill acquisition programmes of the NYSC.
“Most of these entrepreneurs set up new business in their areas of service and not in their home community or states. This has promoted integration in the society and the country at large in no small measure.
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“Some corps members use their allowance and stipends saved during the service to invest in businesses. And once the trust fund comes into full swing the number of young graduate entrepreneurs in the country will increase.
He explained that contrary to public perception, 75% of corps members serve in the rural areas and not in the urban areas. He said this explains the low retention rate in the cities because the scheme seeks to grow self-reliant and young entrepreneurs as against employment seeking youths, adding that more hands are needed in the rural areas to stimulate development from there.
“The NYSC scheme gives us the opportunity to bind together as a people,” he said, before adding that “It is unfortunate that without the programme some people who were born in a particular area schooled there, worked there, married there, had children there and died in that state or community without even going out to other parts of the country. This is not good for us.
Asked if thinks there is an underlying mischief in the call for the scrapping of the programme, Gen. Ibrahim said no.
“Well, the call has to do with democracy and people must air their views,” he said.
“The call (for the scrapping of the scheme) has given us the opportunity to draw attention to some of the programmes and benefits of the scheme which were not known to all Nigerians before now.
“We have made start up capital available to some deserving members through the Bank of Industry, for instance, to help tackle the challenge of unemployment. The scheme has promoted inter-marriages, employment, training and skill acquisition.
” The NYSC scheme should be more strengthened to improve it.
He explained that one of the salutary avenues to improve the employment situation in the country is to strengthen the capacity of the scheme to raise a higher crop of members with the right entrepreneurial skills to confront the challenges in the country.
“We should firm up the NYSC Trust Fund to make start-up capital available to more core members.
“I say this because the empowerment of the graduate youth will help the country in many ways especially in the areas of job employment,” he said.
He further explained that the scheme is not a conduit for siphoning public funds as alleged and added that the scheme has a proper structure for accountability put in place.
“No, it is not a conduit pipe to siphon money, rather, the scheme helps to promote self-reliance among our youths among other benefits.
On the testy issue of the security challenge in the county and the high risk of posting serving corps members to conflict areas, he clarified that the current security challenges in the country notwithstanding, the scheme remains a laudable programme which should be sustained for the growth and development of our country.
He said the scheme walks around the fault lines and ensures that members are not put in harm’s way in their quest to serve their father land.
” Over five million youths have passed through the scheme so far. “I ask a question, without the NYSC scheme what would have happened to us as a country?
“There is no country without problems and promoting our fault lines will not help us. Instead we should work to unite the country. We should let the spirit of the NYSC live in us because Nigerians we are, Nigeria we serve,” he said.