Since the recent deaths of some members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), in some parts of the country, there have been debates on the desirability or otherwise of the scheme. Richard Akinjide, former attorney general and minister of justice, is one of those against continued existence of the scheme. Established in May 1973 by the military government of General Yakubu Gowon, the scheme remains one of the greatest public institutions ever created in Nigeria with laudable objectives. This is a reassuring verdict of majority of Nigerians who spoke against the backdrop of calls in certain quarters that the programme should be scrapped.
The NYSC on its own is a faultless programme, according to those who spoke on the issue recently. But like the Nigerian projects, it has certain structural deficiencies, which must be addressed. This is normal because such programme has to be reviewed from time to time. These deficiencies are no reasons, going by some calls by Nigerians, why the scheme should be scrapped.
A close look at the objectives of the scheme, conceived some 36 years ago, shows a deliberate effort at progressive movement of the country through the Nigerian youths. These objectives are aimed at inculcating discipline in Nigerian youths by instilling in them, a tradition of industry at work; patriotism and loyalty to Nigeria in any situation they may find themselves; to raise the moral tone of the Nigerian youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievements, social and cultural improvement.
Others are to develop in the Nigerian youths the attitudes of mind. acquired through shared experience and suitable training, which will make them more amenable to mobilisation in the national interest, and to enable them acquire the spirit of self-reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self- employment.
Yet others are, to contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy; to develop common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration; to remove prejudices, eliminate ignorance and confirm at first hand, the many similarities among Nigerians of all ethnic groups and to develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Nigeria.
Marcel Umesi, a youth corps member currently serving in Jigawa State Radio is excited about the scheme. “What else can any patriotic Nigerian ask for?” The excited corpse member. who made a short trip to Abuja, said but for the NYSC scheme, he would not have had the opportunity of visiting Jigawa, at least not now.
There is no doubt that the ideals enunciated by the founding fathers of the scheme have not been executed to the letter, yet, whatever problems that have been encountered have not been in vain because of any lack of vision. Somehow, the problem of NYSC, like the problem of Nigeria, is artificial.
Before the coming of NYSC, many Nigerians did not go out of their areas for anything. With the NYSC, it became compelling that young Nigerians who ordinarily would not leave their states and zones, were made to move. This perfectly justifies the position of Marcel Umesi.
As a result, upon discovering the facts on ground, many of these young men and women have dropped their predispositions and prejudices against other sections of the country. Interestingly therefore, the advantages of the scheme have been manifold.
These young men and women, who move in their droves to places other than their home areas, take up various job opportunities in and out of government establishments; some even establish their own businesses; many marry and bring up their children and integrate in the local ways of life of the people. What else can a country in desperate need of unity ask for? This is why all hands must be on deck to achieve the objectives of the scheme through equitable distribution of members of the service corps and the effective utilisation of their skills in areas of national needs, Umesi emphasised.
In addition, Nigerian youths in the programme should be assigned to jobs in states other than their states of origin. To achieve this, it becomes the. responsibility of everybody to ensure that groups of youths work together as representatives of Nigeria as far as possible and that they are exposed to the modes of living of the people in different parts of the country.
Also, Nigerian youths should be encouraged to eschew religious intolerance by accommodating religious differences. They should be encouraged also to serve and to seek at the end of the one-year national service, career employment allover Nigeria, thus promoting the free movement of labour. Again, employers should be induced partly through their experience with members of the service corps to employ them more readily and on permanent basis irrespective of their state of origin, since they are qualified.
True, some Corps members have lost their lives in the course of serving their fatherland. Regrettably as this is, many believe there is no justification whatsoever to completely state that such grave mishap like death occurs because these patriotic Nigerians were in their areas of primary assignments. Instances abound.
Definitely, the souls of Akande Oluwaleke Olalekan, Akinjobi Ibukun Oluwatosin and Odusote Adetola Oluwole, corps members who died in Jos, the Plateau State capital during the religious cum political upheavals of November 27,2008, the memory of Miss Anthonia Amarachi Okeke, a corps member and Corps Liaison Officer, CLO, who was declared missing in mysterious circumstances on December 19, last year, at llawe Community in Ekiti South-West Local Govemment Council of Ekiti State, are irreplaceable.
So, the assault and subsequent dastardly murder of the 22-year old Miss Grace Adei Ushang in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital on September 26, this year, cannot be good enough reason for protagonists of abrogation of NYSC scheme. True, other members of the NYSC have equally lost their lives in various accidents as a result of the dilapidated roads across the country as they moved from one area of their primary assignments to another. And this is after their parents have spent fortune to train them.
As has also been well reported, there had been cases where Corps members were rejected at the places where they were posted with their attendant difficulties. Indeed, nobody will argue against the presence of these difficulties. But, at the end of the day, these demerits cannot be weighty enough to justify the cry for the abrogation of the NYSc. Even with the difficulties, there are people who think that the one-year period should be increased to two years.
The emphasis should be to get back to the past days of glory when beneficiaries had good time in their service year. Then, they got good treatment from their hosts who promptly provided their needs. ‘Then, corps members were well treated and respected everywhere in the country and it was a pride to adorn the NYSC uniform. They were so jealously protected that some of them decided, after the service year, to settle in their places of assignment and actually picked their better half there.
“They were properly accommodated and in some places, apart from their government approved stipend, they were periodically given foods and transport allowances to make them comfortable. They were seen as government children and pampered by all. And in appreciation, corps members strove to leave good footprints behind, which were of course compensated by the NYSC authorities, which gave awards to deserving members at the end of every service year.
Also, cases abound where corps members embarked on community projects such as construction of classrooms in remote villages where children studied under trees, construction of bus stops and community roundabout, repair of roads and environmental sanitation and beautification of environment as part of their contribution to the development of their host communities.
In most cases, many communities in appreciation of their efforts organised elaborate valedictory parties for them at the end of the service year. These good memories of the scheme have vanished and the scheme has today become a dreadful experience for Nigeria’s teaming graduates. To many, it has become a mission to death and they would rather serve within their locality or forfeit the experience and damn the consequences. This is especially common amongst people who have attained the ceiling age of 30 at which the service becomes optional.
Although there had been calls in the past for the restructuring of the scheme to suit present day realities in the country, with some people even arguing that it is no longer necessary and should be completely scrapped, the recent development has heightened people’s apprehension about the scheme. There are some areas that need adjustment and restructuring no doubt. Allowances for stipends for corps members, their accommodation, their security must be improved. The scheme is laudable and still relevant, which is why many Nigerians are also asking that it should metamorphose into a military programme.
Government may consider such comments of good spirited Nigerians because this is a vital tool for uniting Nigerians.
Culled from ThisDay
What Do Nigerians Expect In 2022?
As the year 2021 was winding up with all its ups and downs, it was natural for people to state some of their expectations in the coming year, 2022. And what are some of these prospects?
Joseph Omeje, is an economist and lecturer with the Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT). He believes that human beings are usually very optimistic. Hear him: Yes, the economy of the country and globally is very bad but I expect that 2022 will be better than 2021 only that we have to plead with the political leaders to play the game of electioneering very gently. Let there be human face in whatever they are doing. We wouldn’t like to hear that the youths are being used to kill or to commit all evil in a bid for some people to realise their political ambitions. Our leaders should do their best so that we do not incur much human losses anymore. We have suffered a lot in the hands of these religious extremists and those who are pursuing their personal goals.
Economically, Nigeria will do better once there is security. The insecurity problem in the country is something that government can tackle if they want. Once the security situation in the country is improved so as to allow farmers go back to their farms and Nigerians go about their businesses freely, then the nation wouldn’t be as bad as it was in the last year. Government should dialogue with agitating groups. Whatever is the problem let them discuss it so that there will be peace in the country. When there is peace, the economy will improve. I believe that political solution is much better than judicial solution.
I also expect that government should take a second look at the idea of giving out money in the name of allowances. What is N5000.00 for a household or even an individual in a month? Instead of all these handouts, government should create an environment where people can get employment. When we were growing up I know that some states had stakes in businesses. In my own state, Enugu, we had cashew industry, aluminium roofing sheet industry and all that. All these are moribund now. If all these can be revived and new ones added, you will see that there will be a lot of jobs. And once you have job opportunities for the youth, you will see that even the problem of insecurity will reduce and per capita income will increase and the economy will improve.
It is also my expectation that the excessive borrowings will stop. We have borrowed enough. It’s true that no country can do without borrowing but when we keep borrowing and we are not putting it into real investment portfolio or productive sector so that it helps the economy to grow, then there is a big problem. And how do we intend to pay back these loans? We heard what happened in Uganda recently. The Chinese government has taken over the only international airport they have because of their indebtedness to China. What if the same thing should happen to Nigeria?
For Mrs Dorathy Mayford, a civil servant, the experiences of the previous years have taught her not to have any expectations from the government, the society or individuals as doing so affects her health negatively. “I have learned that the best way to live is without having any expectations from life. Expecting good from our leaders in Nigeria will end up getting you disappointed. For some years now workers in the state and the nation have expected that their salaries will be increased to enable them cope with the prevailing harsh economic realities in the country. Civil servants in the state have expected that they will be promoted but these expectations were never met. So, I have decided that in order to stay healthy and happy, I will not expect anything. I only put my trust and hope in God because only He will not disappoint or fail me.”
A technician, Mr Malachy Amadi, expects that there will be plenty of money in circulation in the country in 2022. In his words, “2022 is a year preceding an election year. It will be a period of campaigns and the politicians will bring out all the money they have been stealing from government’s coffers and saving. So, there will be a lot of money in circulation and that will make life better and easier for the masses.”
Joel Ogwuche, a stock broker, projects that Nigeria will be a better society, a well-planned environment where people can begin to make plans for the future. “As it is, presently, nobody can plan for tomorrow in this country because of several policy summersaults. Those in authority change the existing policies at any time and introduce new ones without even notifying the citizens. Nobody can make a sustainable plan in this type of environment. So, I expect that in the coming year, our leaders will begin to do the right thing for the benefit of the entire citizens and not for a few individuals”, he said.
Miss Grace Moses, a housekeeper, is of the hope that in 2022, security would be a major concern for those in the authority both at the federal and state levels. Grace, an indigene of Kaduna State, working in Port Harcourt, narrated that many people from her state have been forced out of their state and into other major cities around the country where they engage in all kinds of menial jobs to survive. According to her, the prices of food and other commodities are rising daily in the country because farmers have been driven away from villages by Boko Haram militants disguised as Fulani herdsmen and other criminals. She, therefore, expects that in 2022, the problem of insecurity will be given a sincere, adequate attention so that people can go back to their villages.
Jake Baridon, a legal practitioner expects the national and state assemblies to be on the side of the masses and make laws that will benefit the generality of the people instead of being “rubber stamps”. He continued, “I personally will expect the National Assembly to override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on electoral bill. The bill, as far as I know, represents the desire of the electorates in the country and it is wrong of Mr President with withhold his assent for the second time for some flimsy reasons. The year 2020 should be a period for us to start seeing vibrant law making, practical separation of power and checks and balances in our nation. These people have been dormant for a long time and it is high time they showed that they can not only bark but that they can also bite.”
He also expects the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government, the police, the EFCC and others bodies to play their respective roles in fighting corruption in Nigeria, adding that the high rate of corruption in the country is disturbing and if nothing is done to check it, the future of the country will be very bleak.
Arinola Moyo, a youth corps member, says she wants to see true leadership in the country, especially at the federal level. In her words: it’s been as if we don’t have a true leader since the current government came on board. Every time you hear the Presidency said this, the Attorney General of the Federation said that, Lai Mohammed said that. You hardly hear from the President, making it seem as if these people are the ones ruling the nation. So, I want to see more effective leadership in the country.
“Government should also do something about the high unemployment rate in the country. Thousands of graduates come out from schools every year without jobs for them. That is why some of them join Internet fraudsters and other bad gangs.
“I also expect federal and state governments to implement the recommendations of the various judicial panels on #EndSARS. This issue is so delicate to be swept under the carpet.” Moyo said.
Christian Chidi is a businessman. He expects that with the issue of COVID-19 being curtailed, life will come back to the business sector in the country. According to him, since the advent of the pandemic two years ago, business has been dull with many oil companies working from home and many private companies folding up.
A housewife, Lady Pep Iroh, is projecting that, come year 2022, adequate attention will be paid to the problem of soot in Port Harcourt which she alleges is causing serious health issues for the residents of the city.
Pastor Godswill Abalagha envisions that the grace of God will be abundant for the nation and the citizens in 2022 to help see them through all difficulties and challenges. He, however, advised Nigerians to turn away from their wicked ways, including stealing government’s money, shedding of blood, kidnapping, corrupt practices and rather seek the face of God.
By: Calista Ezeaku
…Creates Two New Offices In Govt House
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced the creation of two new executive offices to guarantee efficiency and effectiveness of activities at the Government House, in Port Harcourt.
The governor’s action was made known in a statement signed by the Special Assistant on Media to the Rivers State Governor, Kelvin Ebiri in Government House, Port Harcourt, last Monday.
The terse statement reads, “To ensure activities are functioning efficiently and effectively, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has announced the creation of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Government House, Port Harcourt.
“The Deputy Chief of Staff will be in charge of the Logistics, Correspondence of the Governor and Legal Matters.
“Similarly, he has also announced the creation of the Office of the Special Adviser on Aviation”.
Accelerating Gender Parity In Nigeria
In virtually all societies, women are in an inferior position to men. Sex or gender determines more rights and dignity for men in legal, social and cultural situations, These are reflected on unequal access to or enjoyment of rights in favour of men.
There are also the assumption of stereotype social and cultural roles.
In Nigeria, gender inequality has been for decades in spite of modernization and the fact that many females have done better than men in many spheres.
Analysts are convinced that gender inequality is largely influenced by religious and cultural beliefs, as some cultures and religions still hold strongly that women are the weaker vessels created mainly to be home keepers and child bearers.
Analysts are also worried that gender inequality negatively affects status in all areas of life in society, whether public or private, in the family or labour market.
Although the Global Gender Gap Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) shows some progress amongst the 149 countries that were indexed, the progress toward closing the gender gap is slow, because it will take 108 years to close the gender gap and another 202 years to achieve parity in the workforce, according to the report.
The report benchmarks the 149 countries on their progress toward gender parity across four dimensions – economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political empowerment.
A number of initiatives have been made by corporate organisations and governmental and non-governmental organisations to address gender imbalance in Nigeria.
One of the latest is the launch of First Women Network (FWN) by the First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., in commemoration of the 2019 International Women’s Day (IWD).
IWD is celebrated globally every March 8 to recognise social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
The celebration is also a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
The global theme for the 2019 celebration is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” while the theme for the social media campaign is “#BalanceforBetter”.
According to the bank, the FWN initiative is an avenue for career management and mentoring for women to enable them to balance their career with private endeavours.
The aim, according to the bank, is to address gender gap and increase women representation in its senior and executive levels, as well as encourage women to tap into opportunities and contribute to nation-building.
The bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Adesola Adeduntan, explains that First Women Network is targeted at the banks’ staff and customers, among others.
He believes that women can achieve more if given the necessary strategic support, hoping that the initiative
will increase the bank’s productivity and profitability.
Adeduntan notes that the initiative is also a demonstration of First Bank’s adherence to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Sustainable Development Goals which mandate increased women representation in all banks.
The sustainable goals require that the financial services sector should adopt a quota system to increase women representation on boards to 30 per cent and that of senior management level to 40 per cent by 2014.
Adeduntan is optimistic that the FWN will address six key area – career management, personal branding, mentoring, welfare, financial planning and empowerment.
He is convinced that the initiative will address gender disparity at the workplace.
“It is commonly agreed that gender parity is an essential factor influencing the advancement of institutions, economies and societies.
“Studies have shown that gender parity in corporations promotes increased performance and returns on investment.
“The need to invest in composite women empowerment and enhance their contributions at senior management levels to achieve organisational goals cannot be over-emphasised,” the CEO says.
For him, it is paradoxical that the presence of women in paid employments continues to increase, yet the progression of professional women to positions of leadership and management remains slow.
“Gender gaps persist in economic opportunities and political participation in many countries.
“This is part of the reasons for this women network initiative,” he notes.
The chief executive officer wants employers of labour and the entire society to encourage women to advance, excel and contribute optimally in workplaces and communities.
Mr Abiodun Famuyiwa, group head, Products and Marketing Support, promises that First Bank will continue to promote female entrepreneurship for national growth and development.
“We recognise that promoting female entrepreneurship and independence is key to economic viability of every home in the country,” he says.
According to him, FWN is a further demonstration of the bank’s commitment to women empowerment after the launch of FirstGem in 2016.
He is satisfied that FirstGem is providing opportunities for women to achieve their financial goals and aspirations through with access to support funds, free business advice, specialised trainings on business development and insight on business development.
For Mr Lampe Omoyele, managing director, Nitro 121, an integrated marketing communications agency, points out that courage is important in addressing gender imbalance.
“For gender imbalance to be resolved, there has to be courage, vision, values and character,” he says.
He is convinced that women should have courage and confidence in taking risks within organisations.
Omoyele advises that women must not play the victims.
“Ultimately, whether you are a female or male, what is going to sustain you is your character and values.
“You need to have values; character is important in the balance that we live to, and it sustains you as you move into the future,” he adds.
The Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank, Mrs Bola Adesola, wants women to take advantage of FWN to make their lives better.
She urges women to aspire to grow in their endeavours and refuse be limited because of their gender, stressing that they should use all resources at their disposal to grow.
For the bank chief, FWN is not a silver bullet to creating the first female chief executive officer of First Bank, but about opportunity.
“So, it is important that as women, we take advantage of it,” she urges.
Ms Cecilia Akintomide, independent non-executive director, FBN Holdings Plc, is dissatisfied that Nigeria is still far in gender balancing.
Akintomide says Nigerian women are still being restricted from working in some places and owning some property.
According to her, restrictions are rendering 50 per cent of Nigeria’s population – mainly women – economically unviable.
A First Bank customer, Mrs Ifeyinwa Okoye, lauds the FWN, and urges the bank to ensure that its customers – the secondary target of FWN – benefit from it.
Okoye describes women as critical to economic growth and development but regrets that many women were lagging behind in their endeavours because of gender inequality.
She wants the banks to enlighten its customers on FWN for maximum results.
“If you empower a woman, you empower a nation.
“Empowering women is especially effective because the benefits are felt throughout the whole community,” she argues.
Analysts call for more strategic support for Nigerian women to enhance gender parity.
By: Chinyere Joel-Nwokeoma
Joel-Nwokeoma is of the News Agency of Nigeria.
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