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Civilian DG for the NYSC

Posted by This Day on 2005/01/27 | Views: 283 |

Civilian DG for the NYSC


Since its inception in 1973 the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has had only soldiers as its director-general.

Since its inception in 1973 the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has had only soldiers as its director-general. There may be no statutory basis for this. And even if there is, the civil servants appear set to challenge it. They are calling for the appointment of only civilian directors-general for the organisation henceforth.

In a letter to the president, the Senior Civil Servants Union of Nigeria said that the NYSC being a purely civilian scheme, ought to be headed by a civilian, career civil servant in line with the practice in other parastatals. They find it difficult to understand why workers of the organisation cannot aspire to its headship which the incessant appointment of soldiers as director-general forecloses.

The Union referred to a recent white paper on the report of a technical committee set up to reorganise the NYSC. The white paper identified the appointment of soldiers and police officers as director-general as the bane of career prospects of staff of the scheme. Indeed, the whitepaper recommends that the director-general should be a career officer with a fixed term of four years which can be renewed at the discretion of the president.

Ordinarily, any hair-splitting over whether the NYSC should be headed by a soldier or civilian would seem to be unnecessary. However, one of the issues raised by the demand of the civil servants is whether the NYSC actually must have a soldier as its director-general. Put the other way round, the question is: Is there a compelling need for a NYSC head with a military background?

From all evidence, the answer is no. By format, the NYSC is essentially a civilian scheme with minimal military or martial content. True, there is some military-type parade during the orientation and passing out ceremonies. True also that the aim of such parades is to inculcate some discipline in the participants. Nevertheless this is not sufficient justification for the monopoly which the soldiers have had on the headship of the scheme since inception.

The truth is that the NYSC does not have to be headed by a soldier to draw from the martial traditions of the military. All that is required is for whoever heads the organisation to be enabled statutorily to enjoy the co-operation of the military in running the little martial content of the scheme.

We are inclined to agree with the civil servants that the NYSC has nothing to lose by being headed by a career civil servant. In our view such a move is likely to spur civilian staff of the establishment into better performance.

The military must not see the workers' demand as a hostile act or as a confrontation. It is neither of both, but a clear-headed move by the civil servants to enhance their career prospects. Government should therefore accord the demand the consideration it deserves. There must be several staff of the organisation who are eligible to be appointed as the director-general. As part of the efforts to re-organise and revamp the scheme, government should give serious thought to the demand of the senior civil servants union. Their argument may seem self-serving but its larger goal will be of immense benefit to the NYSC.


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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.