Since its establishment in 1973, the NYSC has made such tangible and intangible achievements as are truly worthy of celebration. Indeed, the scheme is today acclaimed as "one of the principle instrumentalities in nation building and develop ment.
As the former Vice President of Nigeria, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu said in 1990, "the scheme has enhanced the socio-economic devel opment of our country, especially in the area of agriculture, education, healthcare delivery, legal services, science and technology, administration and other social services."
With such monumental achievements to show for its existence, a few lone voices that have called for the abolition of the NYSC need to rethink. Interestingly, those who have called for the scrapping of NYSC contend that Nigeria is not still united in spite of 27 years of the scheme; that many Corps members now roam the streets in search of where to serve, and that many graduates of the scheme do not readily get jobs after service.
Admittedly, the decree establishing the scheme in 1973 "took into congnizance, the vexed issue of national unity after the civil war and the attendant burden of under development, poverty, ignorance and socioeconomic problems typical of most developing countries." Since these issues continue to plague us as a developing nation, the NYSC would continue to be relevant.
These are all social issues that bother every developing country and it might be right to accept that the NYSC is "a timeless scheme." The situation that called tor the enabling decree in 1973 is still with us. The growing insecurity and increasing poverty line is scaring; the rate of ignorance in sociocultural behaviour has not abated; the national psyche on cohesion seems low, and work ethics even among the young have not improved.
If these continue, the NYSC shall remain relevant. The NYSC will even become more relevant as new focus shall continue to motivate the young ones to be active participants in movements for prosocial actions and political change. As Professor Adebayo Adedeji, the first chairman of the scheme rightly noted, "One Head of State after the other has passed the NYSC baton unto his successor-in-office.
And there have been seven of them since Gen. Yakubu Gowon launched the programme in 1973. In a period particularly characterised by discontinuity, the NYSC has been an oasis of continuity, consistently enjoying high profile support in the corridors of power. All the governments have been generous in their support", which shows in very crystal terms "that there must be something basically good, basically ennobling about the NYSC that has captured the imagination of succeeding governments as to make them continue to support it.
In many ways the NYSC has been a triumph of optimism, vision, diligence and the realisation of a big dream. The scheme has so much achievements to show for, in its 27 years of existence, to justify the faith and confidence of its founding fathers and the expenditure incurred in running it since its inception.
The initial scepticism, cynicism and protests against the scheme have given way to optimism, while commendation for the scheme has replaced condemnation of it. Although a few problems have militated against its operation over the years, there is no gain saying the fact that the NYSC has become a symbol of national unity, integration and rapid economic development, in a country as culturally, ethnically and linguistically diverse as Nigeria.