Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof Attahiru Jega, has said that the country must either provide the resources to continue to mandate participation in the National Youth Service Corps scheme or otherwise make it voluntary.
Jega made the statement during his address at the Opening Ceremony of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the NYSC earlier on Monday in Abuja where he was the guest lecturer.
He added that the service must be retained but must also be repositioned to provide a substantial impact on national development, or else it will not last another ten decades.
“If Nigeria wants to do mandatory youth service for all graduates, then Nigeria must provide resources to do just that. Otherwise, you may as well term it to be voluntary or specialised so that you can have maximum value for your little resources.
“We must retain this service, but we must reposition it in such a manner that it can provide not only value for money but also have an even more substantial impact on national progress and development, or else it won’t last the next ten decades.”
On his part, the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, described the involvement of corps members as ad-hoc staff during elections, since 2011, as “divine intervention”, adding that “the collaboration between NYSC and INEC since 2011 is a watershed in Nigeria’s electoral history, as that has so far institutionalized free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria”.
He also called for Nigerians to continue to support the scheme, especially in its community and rural development activities.
Meanwhile, the Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier General YD Ahmed, while commending the vision behind the institution of the scheme, added that the NYSC had become a household name in the country, and described the NYSC, as an inspiration to other African countries.
“For five decades, the scheme has distinguished itself as an effective mobiliser of graduate youths for the promotion of national unity and development in various sectors of our national life. Today, the scheme is a household name in the country and a cherished development brand for youth development.
“I am particularly happy to note that in fulfilling its mandate, the National Youth Service Corps has provided inspiration for sister African countries like Gambia, which helped establish its National Youth Service Scheme, modelled after the NYSC, but with a different structure and operational guidelines.”
Other dignitaries at the event include the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, Deputy Governor of Oyo State Abdul-Raheem Lawal, Chairperson of the Governing Board of the NYSC, Ambassador Fatima Abubakar, among others.