The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has snubbed a recommendation by the Economic Sustainability Committee led by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, to address the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Punch, the Osinbajo-led committee had in June 2020 recommended that while the NYSC programme could continue, the three-week orientation exercise should be suspended for two years.
However, the NYSC ignored Osinbajo’s recommended and decided to re-open orientation camps nationwide next Tuesday amid rising COVID-19 infections.
Speaking on the development, a presidential aide said he had no clue as to why the recommendation of the vice president was ignored.
“We are all surprised that the NYSC is going ahead with re-opening orientation camps at a time when infections are increasing. It is completely avoidable because the orientation can be done online and corps members can get their postings afterwards,” the aide said.
When asked why the government was going ahead with the orientation exercise, a source in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development said that the government had bowed to pressure due to economic considerations.
The source said some persons had been given NYSC contracts, adding that closing orientation camps could lead to huge losses.
“About 90 per cent of the budget of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development goes to the NYSC. You can check it. There is no way the government will suspend the orientation programme for two years. The orientation camp is a key component of the NYSC. Contracts have been given.
“It was just like when the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs insisted on continuing with the school feeding programme even when schools were shut during the lockdown,” the source told Punch.
Speaking on why the Federal Government was going ahead with the orientation exercise despite the recommendation by Osinbajo’s committee, the Director-General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, said the government could not stop all activities because of COVID-19.
Ihekweazu said this while reacting to a question from our correspondent at a virtual briefing of the World Health Organisation on Thursday.
“From the beginning of this outbreak, every country has had to make hard decisions and if you are not in that decision-making seat, you probably don’t understand how hard this is. Do you stop a child from going to school for one year or do you manage this outbreak and close schools? We cannot afford to close down schools, close everywhere, working places, close ports. It is just not possible.
“So, we have got to find a way to continue moving forward with certain aspects of daily life in a controlled way, mitigating risks as much as possible,” he said.
The NCDC boss said measures had been put in place just like in November 2020 to ensure that NYSC camps were safe and protected against the COVID-19 virus.
Meanwhile, plans are being made for President Buhari, Osinbajo and SGF Mustapha to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on live television in order to promote awareness that the vaccines are safe.
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