The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a program set up by the Federal Government to involve Nigerian graduates in nation building. Since its establishment in 1973, Nigerian graduates were required to take part in the National Youth Service Corps program for one year. The Scheme which was greeted with protest against its establishment has gradually become an enduring Federal Government institution. Since its establishment, the NYSC has been a success so much so that the corps members’ contribution to National development culminated in the call upon the scheme to play an important role of officiating national elections. The scheme is also metamorphosing into other roles like providing skills acquisition to its members through the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Programme. One major challenge of the Scheme however was the increasing population of corps members amidst dwindling resources to comfortably cater for its participants. It is therefore not by chance that the coming of the current Director-General of the Scheme brought new dimension in the way the affairs of the scheme are run. The general perception of the public towards the NYSC has since changed. The good General has not only displayed uncommon commitment to the ideals of the scheme, but has also shown and employed initiatives in guiding the scheme to the lofty heights it currently occupies. Ironically, his tenure has seen the NYSC experience the most trying times and publicity. The schemes’ and the General’s emerging from these numerous challenges with only a few scratches bears eloquent testimony to the mettle he is made of. One of such achievements is the meeting held between the NYSC Top Management and Representatives of State Governments to advocate for more support for the operations of the Scheme. During the meeting, which was well attended by Chairmen NYSC State Governing Boards, an idea was mooted on the need to establish a Trust Fund for the Scheme. In order to articulate the idea of the Trust Fund, academics from varied disciplines and backgrounds converged on Abuja to participate in a two-day Symposium in collaboration with the Scheme. The symposium, which had the theme: “Consolidating the Gains of the NYSC in Youth Empowerment and National Development in the Face of Current Economic Realities: The Imperatives of a Trust Fund” was held from Monday, Oct. 25,2021, to Tuesday, Oct. 26,2021. Declaring open the Symposium, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Alhaji Muhammad Bello said that, the NYSC has the potential to drive Nigeria’s economic recovery process. Alhaji Muhammad Bello also said that the scheme can empower youths who are endowed with various talents to achieve success. He therefore called for support towards the success of the laudable initiative. According to him, the NYSC is one of the most cherished national institutions Nigeria has to foster its unity, integration and national development after the unfortunate civil war. “Over the years, however, the realisation of the objectives for establishing the scheme have been hampered by myriad of challenges. They include funding, provision of infrastructure and lately start-up capital for corps members trained through the NYSC Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Programme,” the minister said. He commended the management of the scheme for rising to the occasion to address the challenges facing its operations, through the proposed Trust Fund. The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare in his remark noted that the NYSC has continuously lived up to the dreams and aspirations of its founding fathers. Mr Dare said that the numerous achievements of the scheme did not come without challenges. “Over the years, the NYSC has grappled with challenges which hamper its operations. This made it necessary to fashion ways for sustaining the scheme to contribute more to the development of the nation. “Therefore, the proposal for the establishment of an NYSC Trust Fund is a step in the right direction. If established, it is expected to bridge the financial deficit of the scheme to empower all corps members for self-reliance. “This is by providing start up capitals to set up their businesses on the skills acquired during the service year,” Dare said. The Director-General of NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, had earlier said that the idea of the Trust Fund came up “while deepening the search for ways of addressing challenges faced by the scheme”. He expressed confidence that the symposium would strengthen stakeholders’ support for the proposal. Ibrahim further stated that the federal government bore the heavier cost of running the scheme. “This is through feeding, medical services for corps members and course officials during the orientation course, provision of other logistics for orientation and post orientation operations. “Others are the payment of corps members’ monthly personal and transport allowances, provision of kits, insurance of corps members, as well as staff welfare and training,” he said. Ibrahim stated that the fund, to be called “National Youth Service Corps Trust Fund (NYSCTF)”, would strengthen the operations of the scheme. He said: “The fund will help address infrastructural and other logistic needs for the smooth conduct of orientation courses. “It will bolster the provision of corps lodges and transit camps, as well as other essential facilities for the welfare of the corps members.” He also said that resources from the fund would support staff training for higher productivity as well as logistics requirements. “These include special aspects of our Community Development Service such as medical outreaches conducted under the NYSC Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers, among others,” Ibrahim said. In his speech, Hon. Yemi Adaramodu, the Chairman, House Committee on Youth and Sports, said that the National Assembly (NASS) will fully support any Trust Fund legislation brought before it for consideration. “Whatever the NYSC is doing to improve the welfare of corps members and improve the scheme itself, the national assembly will definitely, and compassionately be part of it. “When this trust fund will be brought before the NASS for legislation, we are promising that we will do justice by ensuring that the bill is expedited and passed,” Adaramodu said. Amb. Fatima Balla Abubakar, the Chairman of the NYSC National Governing Board, lauded the initiative of the scheme to hold a symposium as part of efforts to push for the establishment of a Trust Fund. Abubakar said that despite the challenges the scheme has faced since its establishment, it has lived up to expectations by being creative and innovative. “For the first time, NYSC is allowing stakeholders to contribute to the ongoing debate on the imperatives of establishing a trust fund for the NYSC. “The NYSC has always lived up to the expectation of continuously being creative and innovative under the dictates of current situations and by evidence of its numerous achievements over the years. “These innovations and achievements are not without challenges. Over the years, the NYSC has grappled with myriads of challenges that, unfortunately, have negatively affected some of its operations. “The idea for the establishment of the NYSC trust fund was arrived at after very many consultations with critical stakeholders, top management of the scheme, and representatives of state governments.” Abubakar expressed optimism that the symposium would provide the platform for the adoption of an operational framework to guide the scheme in the pursuit of the NYSC Trust Fund through stakeholders’ engagement. ” NYSC remains critical in our quest for national cohesion and development. Hence the national governing board will continue to provide the necessary support to the management to accomplish the vision of the scheme, he said. Speaking at the event, a retired Diplomat, Amb. Martin Uhomoibhi says the proposed National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Trust Fund is key to the survival of Nigeria.” This proposed fund would be one of the best things that will happen to Nigeria since her independence in 1960. ” The NYSC Trust Fund is about the future of Nigeria and all hands must be put on the deck, to enable it see the light of the day,” he urged. Uhomoibhi, who was a retired Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed this on Tuesday, in Abuja the closing of the three-day Symposium on the Imperatives of an NYSC Trust Fund. Uhomoibhi , who is also the President, Pan African Institute For Global Affairs and Strategy added:” The fund is possible, its doable and it can be done.” The symposium was attended by stakeholders from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), academia, students’ bodies, the National Youth Council of Nigeria, the media, and traditional rulers. Representatives from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, and the FCT Administration also attended the symposium. Mani, a Deputy-Editor-In-Chief ( DEIC ), News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) wrote in from the Central Business District, Abuja.
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