The Nigerian government said it has commenced moves to reform the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The minister’s statement came at a time when legislators at the House of Representatives are debating a bill to scrap the 48-year-old scheme created by former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon in 1973.
The Guardian gathered that bill on the discontinuation of NYSC reached the second reading in the House of Representatives on Monday.
The contentious bill
Sponsored by the lawmaker representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State Awaji-Inombek Abiante, in the explanatory memorandum of the proposal, the bill listed various reasons the NYSC should be scrapped.
It said the NYSC has led to the “incessant killing of innocent corps members in some parts of the country due to banditry, religious extremism, and ethnic violence; incessant kidnapping of innocent corps members across the country.
The proposed law argued that “public and private agencies/departments are no longer recruiting able and qualified Nigerian youths, thus relying heavily on the availability of corps members who are not being well remunerated and get discarded with impunity at the end of their service year without any hope of being gainfully employed.
“Due to insecurity across the country, the National Youth Service Corps management now gives considerations to posting corps members to their geopolitical zone, thus defeating one of the objectives of setting up the service corps, i.e. developing common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.”
FG disagrees with House of Representatives
Despite the security concerns raised as one of the major reasons to scrap the scheme, the youth minister, who spearheads the NYSC, said the scheme will remain.
“The commitment of the government to sustaining the NYSC scheme remains,” Dare tweeted, noting that the “dynamic Reforms and Initiatives towards current realities are ongoing.”
While details of the reforms hinted at by the minister are unknown, some Nigerian tertiary institution graduates observing the scheme have been victims of abduction, killing, and attack in the northeast region of Nigeria.
In January 2021, the NYSC exempted corps members posted to Bornu State from the annual camping exercise.
“2020 Batch A Corps members serving in Borno State are exempted from the camp resumption,” NYSC said when it announced the exemption in a tweet.
Although the NYSC did not state any reason for the exemption to corps members posted to the northeast state. But events in the northeast at the time suggest that it could be for security reasons.
Between November and December 2020 alone, more than 50 persons have lost their lives in attacks by Boko Haram, bandits, and other insurgency groups in Borno State.
About 43 rice farmers were killed by Boko Haram in Zabarmari, about 20 kilometers from Maiduguri towards the end of last year.
The concerns regardless, Dare said, “Nigeria will stand with her youth.”