To commemorate its golden jubilee, Citizen reached out to Nigerians serving in or who have passed through the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to hear their views on whether the national youth programme should remain or be scrapped. 

On May 22, 1973, decree No. 24 established the NYSC. It was created after the Civil War of 1967–1970 as part of a post-war policy formulated to reconcile and integrate young Nigerians across all regions of the country. 

On its website, the NYSC says its primary objective is “to inculcate in Nigerian youths the spirit of selfless service to the community and to emphasise the spirit of oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians, irrespective of cultural or social background.”

[NYSC members / BBC]

Our WhatsApp community has been discussing whether the NYSC programme should be scrapped or stay, with members sharing their thoughts and experiences about its relevance.

We’ve reached out to those in service of their country, Nigeria, and those who have passed through the system, so you don’t miss out on all they had to say:

Cynthia, 25

“I served at a firm in Lagos between 2021 and 2022. My Local Government Inspector (LGI) killed any hope I had left in Nigeria—not even the elections. She was the reason I had to indirectly offer a bribe for the first time in my life.

I believe it should be scrapped. It doesn’t address its initial objectives anymore. It could be remodelled since companies look out for corp members just for cheap labour—I’m only speaking about Lagos here. But this is like Jobberman or other online recruitment platforms. NYSC even has their recruitment platform; they made us sign up, but I don’t remember anything about it now.”

Nsikan, 23

“I currently serve at an IT firm in Ibadan, Oyo state. I think the NYSC should remain because it has helped me see a side of Nigeria I haven’t seen before. Having interacted with Muslims and Christians alike, I realise we’re all alike. We love the same and are caring. The ethnic divide we have is idiotic, stupid and self-inflicted.

During camp, I met a girl. We started talking and liked each other. She was from Kaduna.

I asked why she liked me back and that I was a Christian while she was Muslim. I felt we were supposed to be sworn enemies, but she explained everything to me and cleared up some nonsense myths about her religion. She was so nice and made me see the beauty in religious unity. I would have carried misconceptions about Muslims all my life if I hadn’t met her.”

Taiwo, 30

“I served at a privately owned radio station in Kaduna state between May 2021 and April 2022. 

I believe that the NYSC should not be scrapped, it is serving many purposes now, and if it were to be scrapped, the ripple effect would be felt across the board. 

NYSC provides the platform to gain a unique work experience for graduates that many would ordinarily not have. My work experience scaled up while serving at my Place of Primary Assignment (PPA), strengthening my application for a job after service.

At a time when Nigeria needs more cultural integration and unity than ever, scrapping the scheme will be going against one of the scheme’s core objectives. There might not be accurate data to back this up, but the NYSC Skills Acquisition & Entrepreneurship Department (SAED) program has helped launched several SME’s, leading to massive job creation. 

Are there loopholes that need to be tied? Yes, because over the years, Nigeria has changed, and maybe it is time to revisit how the scheme is being run.

What NYSC needs right now is a better organisation and redefining and modifying its goals. Prospective Corp Members (PCM) should be able to choose how long they want to serve. They should be posted to relevant industries where their core skills will be used and developed.”

Ridwanullahi, 29

“I camped in Ogun State in 2020 but relocated to Lagos, where I worked at a broadcasting firm. 

I feel that the NYSC is still quite much important. Apart from the fact that one gets to travel within the nation, one can easily build connections through it. However, the bad side or negative side I see is the posting of corp members who are not qualified—especially asking them to teach when we didn’t all read education courses.

I, for one, learned a lot during my service year as I was posted to my field, and it has helped me go back for my master’s degree program.

Thanks to NYSC, I’m more or less like a master when discussing issues relating to the field with my classmates, most especially group work.”

Korede, 28

“I served as a geography teacher at Lady Ibiam Girls Secondary School, Independence Layout, Enugu, in 2015. 

It shouldn’t be scrapped. Instead, what it needs is an overhaul. Yes, the pressing concern of insecurity is a leading cause for it being scrapped. But how exactly does scrapping the NYSC solve the insecurity issue?

Elsewhere, as Nigerians, let’s move beyond blaming Lugard. The poor man is in his grave. Allow him to rest in peace. 

To be fair, the scheme has exposed me to what Nigeria is. The good, the bad and the ugly altogether. Not leaving your immediate environment and believing stereotypes of other groups touches on the negatives of intergroup relations.

To have served in Enugu has changed my perception of Nigeria, particularly from the civil war background. More importantly, we must view the NYSC as a humanitarian and community-building effort. That doesn’t negate pursuing individual dreams or aspirations while in service.”

Lilian, 30

“I served in Ogun state in 2018. I’m 50/50  on whether the NYSC should stay or go. NYSC did nothing for me. So if it’s scrapped, I won’t feel bad, at least for upcoming corp members.

But then, many people saved up their allawee and used it to start a business, basically like a grant with no stipulations. So scrapping it will be bad for people who look forward to this.”

Tolulope, 30

“I was posted to Obubra in Cross River but redeployed back to Lagos for my social media job. This was between 2019 and 2020.

NYSC should be modified to allow people to choose their geopolitical zones, eliminating the insecurity fears people are showing towards the scheme. It shouldn’t be scrapped in any way because the benefits far outweigh the negatives.”

As Nigeria celebrates the golden jubilee of the NYSC, the debate on the programme’s relevance today in the country will continue, with some, especially those who consider it a key programme, continuing to advocate for its reform.



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