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NYSC: ACHIEVEMENTS AND MULTIPLIER EFFECTS

Posted by on 2/13/2003 12:05:03 PM | Views: |

NYSC: ACHIEVEMENTS AND MULTIPLIER EFFECTS

The achievements of the scheme which are both tangible and intangible, are many, and they touch all known spheres of human endeavour. The scheme has over the years allowed for the regular and effective distribution of skilled manpower, the steady breaking of social and cultural barriers as well as the building of friendly bridges across the nation.

It has also promoted higher values of national unity and development, rekindled interest in neglected but vital areas of national development like agriculture, and promoted leadership qualities in our youths. In these and other ways, the scheme constantly pricks the conscience of the nation to the right course of development, thereby keeping the hope alive for a better Nigeria.

The regular invita tion of members of the Corps to participate in the conduct of such sensitive national assignments as Population Census, Elections, etc. and to provide material for the Technical Aid Corps (TAC), is not only an expression of faith in the ability of the scheme, but also an appreciation of its monumental achievements since its inception in 1973. The positive multiplier effects of these achievements on society are worthy of further examination, taking, for instance, the deployemnt of corps members.

From its humble beginning of about 2,000 corps members in 1973, it has rapidly grown to the staggering annual figure of 85,000 corps members in 1999. This phenomenal growth, apart from ensuring that the presence of the scheme is felt in all nooks and crannies of the Federation, also allows for the even distribution of manpower in the best interest of the country.

Expectedly, as Dotun Philips once observed, some states "have been subsidising the others by contributing more participants to the scheme than they have been receiving; 69 percent as against 31 percent." Bearing in mind that this observation was made only in 1991, one is only left to imagine how ugly the situation would have been without the scheme in place. In other words, the scheme has effectively played a balanc ing role in the development efforts of the nation.


Elimination Of Ignorance:

Rightly, ignorance has always been referred to as a disease. And before 1973, the country suffered greatly from the ailment. It was manifested in various forms, ranging from fear to distrust and suspicion of one ethnic group by another. The atmosphere was not one where mutual respect and meaningful development could thrive.

If it is realised that the seeming snobbish attitude of the whiteman to the blackman and vice-versa, emanated mainly from ignorance on the part of those concerned, then the efforts of the NYSC in making it possible for the Nigerian youths to understand their country better must be appreciated. Definitely, it removes sociocultural and political prejudices thereby creating a healthy atmosphere for growth.

As Dr. S. U. Lawal recently observed: "Nobody who has gone through the scheme comes out with the same once level of understanding of both local and national issues, and commitment is heightened Participants at the end of their service come out not as tribal champions, but as nationalists with a stronger moral fibre and an appreciable degree of respect for the dignity of labour and understanding of the gigantic tasks ahead in national development."


Regular Source of Labour: There is hardly any qualification or skill outside the reach of the scheme. While this has enabled it to supply qualitative labour regularly to the economy within the last 27 years, Corps members active participation in the primary and secondary assignments have afforded them oportunity to contribute their own quota to the accelerated development of the nation. In many respects, the scheme has played leadership roles in pushing the frontiers
of some subsectors further afield in the interest of society e.g. agriculture and promotion of indigenous technology.

Leadership Training: One of the problems of our nation at the time of establishment of the scheme was very poor leadership. As the NYSC handbook puts it "Nigeria has been less that fortunate in the kind of leaderships that emerge to govern the affairs of the country." Leadership requires a certain degree of preparation and orientation." Consequently, the NYSC
has remained a training ground for the future leaders of this country.

The success has been astounding, judging by the rich citation of the scheme's award winners annually. Over 500 Corps members have distinguished themselves in this regard since 1974. The scheme has inbuilt mechanism for the promotion of leadership traits in its members. Apart from delib erate stress of such values as discipline, self reliance, adventurism and competition for excellence, there are opportunities for youth participation in decision making processes.


This has been mainly through the formation of committees where Corps members
plan and execute programmes which require leadership prowess for success. Related
here too, is the sense of cohesiveness or feeling of unity which the Orientation
Course and other programmes of the scheme provide the youth. It is a very known
fact in social psychology that when "a group is interdependent, they tend
to show more cooperation, more social influence, more liking and greater similarities.


" But also such group participation enables leadership to be nurtured
amongst members. Little wonder, therefore, that participants graduate from the
scheme more refined and more dedicated to the cause of national ideals of unity
and development.


The ideal of selfreliance, which has always been reflected in the scheme's
programmes, also contributes to mak ing the corps members confident long after
service. To equip him well for life, he is given special training that could
make him become an entrepreneur if he chooses later. His participation in community
development services, especially the self initiated projects, makes him tough
and equal to the task of


National Consciousness: Of course, like other institutions, the scheme
is influenced and affected by events outside its immediate environment such
as government policies, institutional relations etc. On the other hand, it also
affects developments in the society, at times very boldly and in other times
in subtle manner.


With reference to the later, the scheme has promoted national conscious ness
of both the Corps member and his associates. When a Corps member departs for
service, he leaves with the goodwill of his parents, relations and wellwishers.
At the current rate of 85,000 serving in various parts of the country per service
year, the meaning is that an infinite number of associates of a Corps member
are at one time or the other thinking national.


This is one aspect of the intangible contributions of the scheme which cannot
be quantified in monetary terms. By constantly reminding the nation of the need
to promote national unity and develop especially the rural areas, the scheme
pricks the conscience of the nation to its responsibility.


SocioEconomic Development: The establishment of the NYSC in 1973 was
a master stroke in socio-economic planning aimed at meeting soci etal needs thereby
effecting greater equity and social justice. Against this background, it is
not surprising that the NYSC has made very remarkable strides in the socio-economic
subsector of the society. Perhaps the depth of its penetration can be felt by
examining some of the following socio-economic indicators:


Education: From information available, it will not be wrong to say that
the greatest contribution of the scheme is in the area of education. As a matter
of fact, no less than 60 percent of its members serve in educational institutions.
And its impacts have been immeasurable on the entire economy. While the benefits
of education to society are too well known to make emphasis unnecessary, it
suffices to say that it is generally believed to hold the key to accelerated
national development. The educated man is free from ignorance and repression.


Health: Like in education, the NYSC has made tremendous contribution
to the rendering of health services to the populace. What is perhaps special
again here is the scheme's attempt to fulfil the vision of the founding fathers'
concept of development. Generally, health personnel are often short in supply
a situation even worse in a non-Social Development And Quality Of Life industrialised
countries like Nigeria., where it is still customary to have 1:10,000 doctor
population ratio.


In terms of infrastructures, hospitals are far between and in most cases located
in only the big towns. In order to alleviate poor health services in the country,
and ensure that health services reach the door steps of almost every Nigerian,
NYSC evolved a policy which ensured that: each of the local governments has
a minimum of two doctors in a year.


Mobile clinics were run from one community to the other, and communities encouraged
to set up their local clinics; massive health education is embarked upon. In
this way, NYSC became a part of the crusade against ill health in the country.
Its participation in such Public Health Education programmes such as the campaign
against AIDS, drug abuse, measles and guinea worms, to mention a few, has been
well acknowledged.


Rural Development: Even at the risk of repetition, rural development
deserves a special focus in any discussion of the NYSC. Apart from the dictates
of the Decree which emphasise rural develop ment, there are evidences to show
that the scheme has special interest in rural services.


As indicated above, most of the scheme's services in education, health, engineering
are more rural in focus. Such interest may not be unconnected with the increasing
concern about rural poverty in the Third World. A very striking point about
rural areas has been their neglect or inability to benefit from policy actions.


Consequently, majority of the rural people have been poor and starved of social
amenities. Over 80 per cent of Nigerians live in the rural areas, characterised
by poverty and neglect. With this in mind, it should be easy for one to appreciate
the rural posting policy of the Scheme which today remains perhaps the greatest
means of rural transformation in the country. And as already shown; this has
been mainly through the provision of specialist skills necessary for the take
off of projects at the grassroots.


Another factor that had enhanced the scheme's efforts in rural transformation
has been its programme of Community Development Services (CDS). Since much references
have been made to this already, we can only emphasis here its ideology, which
is to harness the youths to contribute initiative and manpower towards the development
of their host communities.


This is mostly through the promotion of selfhelp projects. The CDS has undergone
drastic modifications over the years to meet the challenges of the prevailing
circumstances in the country. Thus, from its earliest cottage works such as
the building of bridges, market stalls, slaughter slabs etc., it has shifted
emphasis to such areas as agriculture, mass literacy campaign and recently afforestation.


While all these have the effect of enhancing socio-economic and political activities,
the scheme's venture into agriculture since 1984 deserves special notice. It
should be recalled that by this time, agriculture had already become a very
neglected area of our national life. Consequently, a food crisis was imminent
and it was mainly to avert it that the scheme found it necessary to go into
farming, and it paid off. Soon after its agricultural venture, more attention
began to be paid to this subsector with all the seriousness it deserves.


Agriculture remains, therefore, one of the areas in which the scheme has provided
a sort of leadership to the entire society. Today, the scheme cultivates a minimum
of 100 hectares of land in each of the states of the federation. In this way,
it has been able to turn out large tonnage of food items, feed the nation, reduce
foreign import bills that were hitherto incurred from massive importation of
food, and provide employ ment.


A lasting legacy is the pride of young people in farming today, even after
service. There are more advantages; not the least being its challenge to some
Corps members to design simple technology implements to solve some of the production
problems of agriculture. Some of these implements have gained widespread acceptance,
an example being the famed NYSC potato thresher. It also has spurred the scheme
itself to entertain some agrobased industries.


Notable here are the Rice Mill in Enugu and Sokoto States, Feed Mill in Lagos
State, Garri Processing Factory in Kwara State and Garment Factory in Niger
State. Needless to say that these projects have made immense contributions to
the socioeconomic development of the locality in particular and the country
in general.