By Chinedu Daniel
News filtered in yesterday that part of the recommendations made by the Economic Sustainability Committee headed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo was for the NYSC orientation camp to be suspended for 24 months.
Yes, it makes sense that at this period of great financial depression occasioned by the unexpected corona virus; governments across the world will look around to see how they can reexamine their spending priorities in order to effectively deploy the limited finances available.
But we have to be careful not to plunge ourselves in bigger crisis in a bid to maximise resources. This brings me specifically to the issue at stake, the proposed suspension of the NYSC orientation activities.
May be what the Osinbajo committee didn’t realize was that the orientation camp they are proposing to suspend is the core of what national service is all about.
Recently, a lot of stakeholders begun to call attention to the potential danger our largely unengaged massive youth population constitute to the security of the nation. When we now seek to water down our only visible youth development program as a country; it’s no doubt a prelude to aggravating our already existing problem with youth restiveness in Nigeria. Does it therefore make sense that we exit a health challenge like Covid-19 only to end up with a country where its most dominant population (youth) also become its albatross.
Already, most youth intervention initiatives in Nigeria are built around youth management and not youth development. It’s only the NYSC that is known to provide a purposeful and holistic youth development via its comprehensive program with an all-inclusive components comprising of leadership training to prepare youths for participation in decision making; skill acquisition to curb youth unemployment; self-defense training to checkmate insecurity and support inadequate security manpower. All these are taught in the orientation camps.
When the government now decides to suspend orientation course of the NYSC; then we should be aware that we have cripple our only youth development program by attacking the very nerve centre of its operation. This is a decision that may come back to hunt us as a country and as a people.
This is the time for all those who may be affected by the impending action relating to the suspension of NYSC camp to speak up. The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) especially should be worried that a stop-gap program that has over the years assisted graduates to prepare for a life after school is about to be diminished.
What has over the years make a difference between success and failure for most graduates is the training and preparation they underwent while passing through the national service. All these are about to be halted, and the NANS would do well not to allow this obvious negation of the interest of graduates from Nigeria’s tertiary institutions pass unchallenged.
It was a former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disreali who said “youths are the trustees of a nation’s prosperity.” If all in a bid to manage resources we are now putting the issues of youth development in abeyance, we are not reflecting the character of a people with vision. We can look for all avenue to save money and prioritise government spending; but definitely we mustn’t do so at the detriment of a program that helps in no small way to prepare Nigeria’s young people to make pivotal contributions to national development and integration.
Unless we are saying the future of our youths does not matter, suspending a critical aspect of our youth development program, which the NYSC orientation course represents, should be a No No.
Daniel writes from Onitsha, Anambra state.
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