The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was established in 1973 to promote national unity, integration and development, through the mobilization and deployment of Nigerian graduates, trained within and outside the country.
Since inception almost 50 years ago, the Scheme has successfully mobilized over 10,000,000 graduates.
The operations of the Scheme during every service year are segmented into: Orientation Course, Primary Assignment, Community Development Service, and Winding-Up/Passing-Out.
Through the listed four cardinal programmes, NYSC inculcates into the participating graduates values such as: discipline, patriotism, hard work, loyalty, self reliance, team spirit, dedication, among many others.
Considering the fact that the graduates, who are Corps Members are passing through a crucible which the Scheme exemplifies, they are expected to come out as better and more responsible citizens.
High premium is attached to Corps Members for which NYSC Management at all times makes adequate arrangements for their reception and provides qualified manpower from the Scheme and collaborating agencies effective running of the Corps; right from the process of registration for service, until they are finally discharged and issued Certificate of National Service.
NYSC is into partnership with agencies such as the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police Force, State Security Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Citizenship and Leadership Training Centre, National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency, Nigerian Red Cross Society, Federal Fire Service, Federal and State Ministries of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Pharmaceutical Companies traditional rulers, National Union of Road Transport Workers and Transport Companies, with view to ensuring a holistic training, remolding, welfare and security of the Corps Members throughout the duration of the service year.
The NYSC Act assigns responsibilities to the Federal, State and local Governments towards the running of the Scheme.
These range from funding to provision of orientation camps and facilities in all states; as well as provision of Corps lodges in all local government areas among others.
To leave no loophole at all levels of preparation for every service year, NYSC Management brings together all the critical stakeholders to series of brainstorming sessions such as Annual Management Conference, Pre-mobilization Workshop and Pre-orientation workshop during which critical decisions are reached and resolutions are shared among participants for strict compliance.
It is imperative to state at this point that some of the key issues contained in resolutions of every Pre-orientation workshop centre around: provision of habitable and conducive accommodation in all the NYSC Orientation camps; provision of adequate and delicious meals for Corps members and meeting their health needs through the provision of enough essential drugs in all camp clinics.
Suffice it to add that the National Health insurance scheme fully takes charge of all health issues during the Orientation programme. They provide drugs and medical treatment through medical Doctors that are Consultants, Pharmacists, Nurses, medical lab Scientists, all drawn from the tertiary medical centres and Teaching hospitals who are resident in camp throughout the 21–day duration of Orientation course.
As a way of ensuring strict compliance with Orientation guidelines and directives, NYSC Management deploys officers from the National Directorate Headquarters who reside in the camp throughout the duration of the exercise. Officers of the rank of Deputy and Assistant Directors are also sent on inspection and monitoring of camp facilities and programmes.
In addition to that, Directors and even the Director–General also pay working visits to all the Orientation camps. To crown it all, the Chairman and members of the NYSC National Governing Board, as well as Chairmen and members of the House of Representatives and Senate Committees on Youth pay unscheduled visits to all Orientation camps.
To say the least, reports from the various inspections and tours have always guided NYSC Management in policy formulations and NYSC Orientation camp which is not a 3 or 5-star hotel is among the most well organized settings for grooming of graduate youths.
No wonder the NYSC recently got a 4-star rating by Servicom Office in the Presidency owing to its efficiency in service delivery.
It therefore leaves a sour taste in the mouth when some individuals with ulterior motive cast aspersions on the NYSC, without background or requisite information on the subject of the discourse.
More often than not, the aspersions arise as a result of unwholesome requests turned down which is unknown to the unsuspecting public.
It is befuddling that the Scheme which has been providing thousands of indigent Nigerians with free medical services under the Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers will be handicapped in providing basic medical services in Orientation camps for its own Corps Members?
Corps Members’ welfare remains a cardinal policy thrust of the National Youth Service Corps. There had been instances ailing Corps Members are flown abroad for medical issues that defy local treatment at the expense of the Corps.
The Corps will never shirk its responsibility of catering to the general welfare of Corps Members.
While the Scheme is not averse to constructive criticisms, it will be appropriate to verify any subject being written on the Scheme to guard against serving the public falsehood.
Eddy Megwa fnipr, Director, Press and Public Relations, NYSC, writes from Abuja.