By Solomon Semaka
It is possible to think that if not for the Nigerian civil war otherwise known as the Biafran war that was fought in Nigeria from July 6, 1967, to January 1970, there would have been no Scheme like the National Youth Service Corps.
For the avoidance of doubt, for thirty months, Nigeria, a country that was just seven years old, yet to become viable in the major spheres of development was in the trenches of a civil war that destroyed the political, social, economic structures and presented a great humanitarian challenge when the war ended on January 15, 1970. At the end of the war, General Yakubu Gowon – then Head of State, declared that there was “no victor, no vanquished.”
In the article “Aftermath of the Nigerian civil war (1967 – 1970): The Struggle for Peaceful Co-existence Between Parties in Post-war Nigeria” retrieved at https://asaf-today.ru,
it is explained that it was against this backdrop that the Federal Military Government immediately adopted the policy of 3Rs: Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. The main aim of the 3Rs was to create an atmosphere conducive for resettling the displaced and those who had fled their homes; rebuild damaged physical facilities and demobilized armed forces personnel in gainful employment in civilian life.
The programme was initiated to appease the hostilities between Nigeria’s ethnic groups, restore infrastructure and homes, relocate internally displaced people and tackle the socio-economic challenges of poverty, disease and malnutrition among the victims. In other words, the plan aimed to reconstruct the infrastructure damaged by war and promote economic and social development throughout the nation in the post-war period.
One of the ways the Federal military government of General Yakubu Gowon set to achieve this was through the instrumentality of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC. Therefore, The NYSC Scheme was created by decree No.24 of 22nd May 1973 which stated that the NYSC is being established “with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity.”
The NYSC with a very clear vision and mission enunciates in her vision that the Scheme targets “To develop a sound and result oriented organization that is strongly committed to its set objectives particularly those of national unity and even development. An organization that is well motivated and capable of bringing out the best qualities in our youths and imparting to them the right attitude and values for nation-building. An organization that serves as a catalyst to national development, and a source of pride and fulfilment to its participating graduate youths.”
In her mission statement, the Scheme is also elaborate and states inter alia;
• To build a pragmatic organization that is committed to its set objectives with the ultimate goal of producing future leadership with positive national ethos-Leadership that is vibrant, proud and committed to the unity and even development of the Nigeria State.
• To be at the forefront of National development efforts, as well as serve as a profitable platform for imparting in our youths values of nationalism, patriotism, loyalty and accountable leadership.
• To raise the moral tone of our youths by giving them an opportunity to learn about high ideals of national achievement, social and cultural improvement.
• To develop in our youths attitude of mind acquired through shared experience, and suitable training which would make them more amenable to mobilization in the national interest.
• To ensure Nigerian youths acquire the spirit of self-reliance, a reliable source of economic empowerment and effective participation in nation building.
• To develop an organization that is alive to its responsibilities and responsive to the needs of the country.
The purpose of the Scheme is primarily to inculcate in Nigerian Youths the spirit of selfless service to the community, and to emphasize the spirit of oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians, irrespective of cultural or social background.
Since the establishment of the Scheme, many people have had the privilege of leading the organization. However, the story of the Scheme changed some three years ago when on May 10, 2019, then Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, DSS, PhD, MTRCN, was appointed the 18th Director General. From every indication, Shuaibu Ibrahim came prepared for the job. He was already working with the youth as before his well-deserved appointment, he was in the services of the Nigerian Army University, Biu as the Registrar.
Interestingly, the appointment of Shuaibu as the Director-General, NYSC was his second coming to the organization as previously, from 1996 to 1999, he was the Military Assistant to the Director-General, NYSC. With this experience, his second coming to the Scheme was like a homecoming.
It is noteworthy that General Shuiabu has brought discipline which is consistent with the army personnel to bear on his job as the Director General. It is commendable how despite the agitations that were surrounding the November 6, 2021 Anambra State Governorship Election, Shuiabu allowed the Corps members to participate in the election, ensured their safety and there was no reported case of any corps member harmed before, during and after the electoral exercise.
More than ever before, the office of the Director General of NYSC is becoming more tasking as the number of prospective corps members keeps rising exponentially, biting economic realities and the general challenge of maintaining the welfare of corps members, necessitating an urgent need to think outside the box to solve these foregoing problems.
Against this backdrop, the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier-General Ibrahim Shuaibu, has proposed to the Federal Government and the need to set-up a trust fund that would provide the needed fund to tackle issues of poor infrastructure, Staff training, Corps Welfare, Corps empowerment for self-reliance, boost the operations of NYSC ventures, etc.
In the light of the aforementioned, many Nigerians including the minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Musa Bello and chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Youth and Sports, Hon Yemi Adaramodu, among other stakeholders have expressed support for the establishment of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Trust Fund.
Speaking at the event that stakeholders gathered at a symposium on the imperative of an NYSC Trust Fund, the Director-General NYSC, said the essence of the symposium was to engender a greater appreciation of the need for the Trust Fund and to generate ideas that would facilitate its actualisation as well as the realisation of the set objectives. He emphasized that the Fund would also focus on making the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme of the Scheme more functional through adequate provision of training facilities.
The noble idea of a Trust Fund Scheme has received the endorsement of many Nigerians, including General Yakubu Gowon. The former Head of State made his stance known when he was at the NYSC Headquarters to commission NYSC Radio and TV stations. The man who is often referred to as the grand patron of the Scheme stated that “Let me use this unique opportunity to once again express my support for the proposed NYSC Trust Fund. I am impressed with the progress being made on the legislative processes towards the passage of the Bill on the establishment of the Fund at the National Assembly. I look forward to the final conclusion of these processes and the eventual take-off of the Trust Fund, which promises to be a game-changer for the NYSC our graduate youths and the Nigerian economy.”
As someone open to new ideas and willing to collaborate with professionals, members of the Historical Society of Nigeria, HSN, a professional body of historians that he is also a member, shortly after he was appointed the Director-General, NYSC, constituted a team that produced a strategic document as their modest way of contributing to his success in office.
In an era where information is highly sought and people and media platforms are in the habit of giving out fake information, the Director-General took a giant step when on April 15th, 2022, NYSC Radio and TV Stations was commissioned by no less personality but General Yakubu Gowon under whose watch the Scheme was established.
In explaining the importance of the media outfit the Director General of NYSC, Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim said, “The establishment of NYSC Radio and Television is part of the whole gamut of activities designed to further advance the cause of the Scheme, which today symbolizes national unity, and is in the forefront of raising a crop of youth entrepreneurs that contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Products through their exposure to the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme. While the NYSC Radio broadcasts on Channel 88.3 FM in Abuja the NYSC Television runs on TStv Channel 365.
He further explained that the philosophy behind the establishment of these stations is multifaceted. They will educate and entertain: give the Scheme a stronger voice to propagate the programmes and sensitize Nigerians on the policies of the government, in addition to the promotion of national unity, national ethos, as well as values reorientation. Thus, they will contribute to redirecting the mindsets of Nigerians, especially the youth, toward things that are noble.
On his part, a happy General Gowon unequivocally stated “There is no gainsaying the fact that the Scheme has in almost five decades of its existence successfully harnessed the potentials of our graduate youths as models for defining patriotism, credible and quality leadership as well as economic regeneration.
These Media outfits will no doubt contribute towards enhancing and sustaining the capacity of the Scheme to consolidate its achievements as well as reach out to its global audience. In particular, they will serve as veritable tools for driving our quest for national unity: cohesion and purposeful development.
With the innovations and the progress made so far, the performance of Director-General, NYSC, Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim is exemplary, enviable and uncommon. He has consolidated on the achievements of past Chief Executives of the Scheme and achieved so much through consistent ingenuity in handling the execution of the mandate of his office.
The foregoing assertion has been buttressed by the home State Governor of the Director General, His Excellency, Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State. According to the Governor at the event to mark the celebration of the former to the rank of a Major General, which was attended by serving and retired military officers and traditional rulers, the Governor of Nasarawa State, commended the NYSC for redefining the Scheme. Sule said General Ibrahim had made Nasarawa State proud because of his sterling qualities and achievements. In the words of the governor, as reported by the Punch newspaper online, he said, “Let me thank you for being a true Ambassador. How else can you be such a proud governor sitting to watch two Ambassadors who have redefined their various areas of endeavours?”
Premium Times presents an abriDirector-Generaled profile of the General thus; “Born on July 13, 1967, Mr Ibrahim, a graduate of University of Jos, attended Nigerian Army Education Corps (NAEC) Young Officers’ Course 1994, Infantry (INF) Young Officers Course 1996, Training Development Advisers Course (TDA) 2004 and NAEC Officers’ Executive Management Course 5/2013.
“He obtained Doctorate Degree (Phd) in History from the University of Abuja in 2007. His research area was centered on Economic and Military History as well as Intergroup Relations.
“Some of the previous positions he held in the military included Research Officer, Institute of Army Education (IAE); Military Assistant to the Director General of NYSC 1996-1999; Staff Officer Military History, National Defence College (NDC) 2004 – 2009; Senior Instructor, Nigerian Army School of Education 2009 – 2011; Staff Officer I Books Resources Procurement, Headquarters Nigerian Army Education Corps 2011 – 2012; Commandant Command Secondary School Suleja 2012-2014; Head of Department, History and War Studies at the Nigerian Defence Academy 2014-2018.
“Mr Ibrahim is a professional member of the Historical Society of Nigeria (HSN), Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (MTRCN), Exam Ethics Marshal International (An Exam Ethics Marshal), Editorial Board, Ibom Journal of History, University of Uyo, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of History and Military Studies, Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna. He has authored publications, chapters in reputable academic journals.
“In the course of his military, he has received several awards including Forces Service Star (FSS), Meritorious Service Star (MSS)and Distinguished Service Star (DSS). Other special recognitions he received are Chief of Army Staff Award as the Overall Best Participant for 2013 NAEC Executive Management Course; Nigerian Institute for Public Relation (NIPR) Special Recognition Award 2014; Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Public Services/Fellowship (FCAI) by Institute of Corporate Administration; Professional National Award of the Historical Society of Nigeria HSN 2018 and COAS Commendation Letter 2018.”
Therefore, it is imperative to enjoin all Nigerians and critical stakeholders to continue to support the highly professional soldier, reputable administrator and result oriented gentleman to take the Scheme to the greatest height as exemplified in this synopsis of his three years scorecard.
Semaka is a public affairs commentator and convener Save Nigeria Movement