Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), said on Wednesday that collaboration between the National Youth Service Corps and the Independent National Electoral Commission has given credibility to Nigeria’s elections.
Gowon made this assertion in an address delivered on his behalf by General Ahmadu Ali, pioneer Director General of the scheme, at a sensitisation workshop on the National Youth Service Corps Act, CAP. N84 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
While listing the achievements of the scheme, the former head of state said its “collaboration with INEC has given credibility to our elections.”
Some other achievements of the NYSC, according Gowon, include: “National unity has been achieved by the deployment of corps participants to states other than their states of origin;
“The scheme has contributed to so much in educational development of the country; In the health sector, the contributions of the scheme to our health care delivery cannot be quantified;
“The scheme is involved in Legal Aid work, rendering pro bono Legal services to the indigent members of the society.”
Gowon said though the original enabling statute was repealed by Decree 51 of June 16, 1993, which is now National Youth Service Corps Act CAP. N84, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, “the objectives of the Act have remained constant and very relevant to the contemporary challenges of our dear nation Nigeria.”
According to him, the establishment of the scheme was not misplaced. “I am very proud to note that the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps in 1973 by my administration was not misplaced, judging from the laudable achievements of the scheme.”
Meanwhile, Ali, while giving his personal remarks before presenting General Gowon’s address, called for the expansion of the scheme beyond the shores of Nigeria.
He said the time has come for the NYSC programme to be expanded to other African Union countries. The ex-DG advised professional bodies against making requests for deployment to specific areas.
Also speaking during the opening ceremony of the sensitization workshop, the DG, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, said “given the current realities of the continuing relevance of the NYSC, we have recognized the need to provide avenue for enlightenment of Nigerians on the enabling Act and the various aspects of our operations. This is based on our firm belief that the roles of stakeholders are better played if the provisions of the enabling law are clearly understood.”
The DG however advised professional bodies who request for corps members for specific areas to desist.
Ibrahim said: “I consider it appropriate to remind professional bodies who have been inundating us with requests for posting of Corps members to specific areas of endeavours for Primary Assignment that such requests are not in tandem with the provisions of the NYSC Act from which our posting policy is derived.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Corps members are assigned to serve in areas where their services are required in line with national needs, with priority given to rural transformation.”
The DG therefor urged Nigerians “to familiarize themselves with the NYSC Act for better understanding of the policies and operations of the Scheme.”
A minute’s silence was observed in the course of the programme for Precious Owolabi, a corps member serving with Channels TV.
Owolabi was killed during this week’s clash between members of the Islamic Mov emend in Nigeria, popularly known as Shiites, and the police in Abuja.