This year alone, much more than the last four decades of the existence of the institution of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), there have been nearly a dozen well researched books that speak to the strategic essence of that national asset known as the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
Thanks to the intellectual bent of the Director General of the NYSC Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim ably assisted by his loyal management team, the nation now has a rich rapporteur of books on the National Youth Service Corps Scheme. It was said that Nigerians do not have a way of preservation of national memorials but the management of the NYSC at the moment has successfully debunked that negative stereotype.
And as we know it, the finest way to preserve history is to put facts down on well written and produced books.
One of the nine books on the NYSC inaugurated recently when the NYSC clocked 40 years is the National Youth Service Corps and National integration.
This aforementioned scholarly book is written jointly and severally by well respected University teachers including the Director General of NYSC just as co-editors are listed as Bem Japhet Audu, Maryam Hamza and Onah Peter Otumala.
Going through this book, I was able to gain some insights on the import and essence of the NYSC Vis-à-vis its fundamental function of representing the pillar for the promotion of National integration. No doubt Nigeria is an amalgam of nearly 300 Ethnic nationalities with very rich cultures, traditions and Worldviews.
From the preface, we were told thus: “National Integration is the hallmark of unity and development in any polity. National integration is the awareness of a common identity among the citizens of different ethnic groups in a country; this means that although we belong to different ethnic groups, religions and speak different languages, yet we recognize the fact that we are all one. It is not just a feeling of national belonging, but also, the feelings which brings people of all dialects, culture and beliefs together in common endeavour, goals and aspirations. National integration has for a long time, become an increasingly investigated topical issue, due to its multi-dimensional and overarching connotations especially in relation to most African nations.”
And that “ Nigeria emerged as a country within the imperialistic activities of Britain, which subjugated diverse nationalities and organized them into one state in 1914, with the amalgamation of the Northern and southern protectorates. At independence in 1960, the Nigerian state materialized with serious socio-political fundamental problems. The most critical challenge is lack of nation-building and leadership was blinded from unifying the people into a cohesive socio-political whole, the various entities that were lump together by the colonialists.”
The NYSC is one of the few national Institutions that currently has the luck of being ably led by one of the finest Directors General just as it is obvious that the current President is one person in Nigeria that has remained consistently consistent in displaying practical passion, love and good will for the NYSC. So it can be said that NYSC is not just a Child of Necessity but a beloved CHILD OF PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI.
The President Muhammadu Buhari has almost created a positive legacy for himself in the area of youth sector and the NYSC specifically right from the inception of his government in 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari on September 13, 2016 in Daura, called on Nigerian youths to make the country great again through pursuit of knowledge, patriotism and commitment to values that promote national unity.
Receiving over 100 National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members serving in Daura local government area in his residence, President Buhari pledged his unalloyed commitment to the unity and prosperity of Nigeria.
He urged them to remain focused in life, pursue their dreams and reject those fanning embers of discord and disintegration of the country.
The President, who specially recognised corps members from the Niger Delta and South-Eastern states serving in Daura, praised the vision of former President Yakubu Gowon in setting up the scheme in 1973.
The President said the scheme had creditably promoted national unity and cohesion by exposing young people to the country’s uniqueness and cultural diversity.
“I asked for those from the other extreme of Nigeria because I very much appreciate the NYSC scheme and whenever I see General Gowon, I always thank him for that,” he said.
“As a military commander, I walked from Degema, a border town between the north and the east, to the border between Cameroons and Nigeria.
“I walked on my feet for most of the 30 months that we fought the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, in which at least two million Nigerians were killed.
“We were made by our leaders to go and fight Biafra not because of money or oil, because oil was not a critical factor then, but because of one Nigeria.
“So if leaderships at various levels failed, it was not the fault of the rest of Nigerians who have no quarrel with one another.
“So please tell your colleagues that we must be together to build this country.
‘’Those who work hard will earn a respectable living. I have seen this country, I fought for this country and I will continue to work for the unity of this country.” The President said.
Buhari said on the last day of August 2017 that he is always pleased to see the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) achieving the purpose of national unity that inspired its creation since 1973.
Speaking to newsmen at his country home after the Eid-el-Kabir prayers, President Buhari said the NYSC scheme had over the years continued to pursue the purpose of integrating the country, noting that the diversity of cultures remained Nigeria’s greatest strength.
“I am always pleased to see corps members in Daura and other parts of the country. From the postings, we get to learn more about other cultures,’’ he said.
The President said the large number of corps members in Daura, mostly from the Southern part of the country, was an indication that the dream of a unified Nigeria remained a reality.
President Buhari noted that graduates from the North, who served in the Southern states, also learnt a lot from the diversity that had made Nigeria a unique country.
President Buhari observed that serving, as an army officer, in some Southern parts of the country such as Lagos and Ibadan were very rich experiences.
The President was accompanied to the Eid-el-Kabir prayers by Presidential aides, members of his family, and neighbours.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday August 21st 2018 gave an indication that his administration would not scrap the National Youth Service Corps scheme as being proposed in some quarters.
Reaffirming his support for the scheme established in 1973, the President said he had thanked a former military leader, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), for the initiative.
Buhari spoke while granting audience to members of the NYSC currently serving in Daura community, Katsina State, shortly after he joined the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Farouk, and other Muslim faithful, to observe the Eid prayers at the Kofar Arewa Eid Ground, Daura.
The audience has become part of his schedules during Sallah celebrations.
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, quoted the President as saying that it was better for youths to know all the parts of the country than being familiar with only their states.
The President said, ‘‘It is better to know all the country than for people to be state-inclined.
‘I always look forward to meeting the NYSC team because since I served mostly in the south when I was in the military, some people in Lagos, the only thing they know is the sea.
‘‘For them (NYSC members) to be brought to the desert or near the Sahel region is a very difficult thing but it will make an impact on Nigeria.
‘‘I have personally spoken to Gen. Gowon to thank him for having the initiative to start the NYSC. It is very good for Nigeria,’’ he said.
The President formally welcomed the corps members to Daura and asked them to enjoy their national service year.
President Muhammadu Buhari, Sunday August 10th 2019 in Daura, Katsina State, challenged members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to use their education and privilege of visiting different parts of the country to unite Nigerians.
Receiving the youth corps members at his country home in Daura during the Eid el-Kabir Sallah celebration, alongside the President of Republic of Guinea, Prof. Alfa Conde, President Buhari said the primary focus of the NYSC is to expose graduates to the beauty and diversity of the country, and return to their states or any part of the country to share their experiences.
The President said they should always emphasize the common values of peaceful co-existence, kindness and hospitality that cut across all cultures and religion in Nigeria.
He said the entire nation depends on past and serving youth corps members to bridge the country, since they have the first-hand experience of living with different ethnic groups in various parts of the country, studying their cultures and traditions, and enjoying hospitality, which underpins every community in Nigeria.
“From Lagos, Port Harcourt and other parts of the country, you are at the end of the country. This posting will make you know this place, Daura, and you can disabuse the minds of those who are not educated about the other side of the country.
“It is only the NYSC that is merging us together and of course, the police and soldiers,” he said.
The President noted that in every meeting with former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, who initiated the programme in 1973 to promote unity and understanding among Nigerians, he always remembers to appreciate the ingenuity of the programme and need for continuity.
President Buhari donated two cows and ten bags of rice to the corps members, and some money, while the President of Republic of Guinea also complemented with two cows.
President Muhammad Buhari, on Tuesday, July 19th 2021 in Daura donated N1million, two cows, and 20 bags of rice to National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members serving in Daura Local Government Area of Katsina State
Mr. Alex Obemeata, NYSC’s spokesperson in Katsina, who disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday, said the President’s gesture was delivered to them when they visited him in Daura to celebrate the Eid-El-Kabir.
“It was another joyous Sallah day for the corps members serving in Daura, the country home of Mr President, as he was at home for the 2021 Sallah celebration.
“Usually, when Mr President is at home for Sallah celebration, corps members go to his house to welcome him and wish him ‘Happy Sallah’.
“In like manner, on July 20, 2021, the corps members in Daura were at the President’s house for the Sallah wishes, and it was a celebration of the century.
“They were given two cows, 20 bags of rice, and N1 million.” The NYSC spokesperson disclosed.
He said that the President commended the NYSC members and urged them to be good ambassadors of their country and committed towards the development of Nigeria.
The senior special Assistant on media and publicity Mr. Garba Shehu sent out the following media release and stated that President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, expressed his deep attachment to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and impact so far, saying it broadens the horizon of citizens, opens up opportunities and enhances understanding of cultural differences.
Speaking at his country home to youth corps members serving in Daura, who visited him for Eid-el-Kabir homage, the President said he had consistently commended former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon for the initiative, which had created more opportunity for uniting the country.
President Buhari urged the youth corps members to make the most out of the opportunity of travelling around the country, especially in understanding different climates, cultures, languages and outviews on life.
“Everytime I meet with former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, like recently, I still commend him for the initiative of the NYSC. The NYSC is spectacular in many ways.
“Some of you have come from Port Harcourt, Lagos and Calabar and you can now feel the heat of Daura and how close it is to the desert,” he said.
The President said the NYSC scheme was well thought-out to unite the country through understanding.
“I feel very strongly about the NYSC and I am wishing you all the very best. I assure you that you will be much better as Nigerians after your experience,’’ he added.
President Buhari gave the corps members two cows from his farm, 20 bags of rice and N1, 000,000 (one million naira).
The Corps Liason Officer, Umaru Babayo thanked the President for all the efforts and sacrifices to restore peace in the country, and the policies to diversify the economy, with agriculture as the main driver.
He said the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Faruk Umar Faruk, had shown a lot of kindness and warmth to corps members as well in his domain, appreciating the community for always supporting them.
Babayo assured the President of prayers for a successful time in office, and God’s providence in decision making that will move the country forward.
Then before the year 2021 Sallah homage to the President by the Corpers, something special happened in faraway Ogun State when the DG of NYSC and his management team paid an unscheduled visit to the man who composed the anthem of NYSC.
The Director General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brigadier General Ibrahim Shuaibu, last Thursday, visited Reverend Oluwole Adetiran, the composer of the NYSC anthem, at his Mowe-Ibafo residence in Ogun State.
Pa Adetiran, a corps member in 1984, composed the evergreen NYSC anthem while serving at the Polytechnic, Ibadan.
The NYSC boss appreciated the stellar and indelible contribution of the septuagenarian to the scheme and assured him of support for his wellbeing.
In his response, Adetiran, who was surrounded by family members during the visit, thanked the Director-General and his team from Lagos and Ogun states, expressing joy at being remembered in his lifetime.
He urged the youth to be selfless and dedicated to national development.
Addressing journalists, the NYSC boss called on corps members across the country to be patriotic in service, so that they too could be celebrated in the future.
He noted that in its 48-year history, more than five million Nigerians had successfully gone through the Service, stating that the scheme remains a veritable tool for national development, with corps members strongly represented in every major strata of the economy.
These are collectively a positive symbolism demonstrating the fact that Nigerians can indeed bring out their best if they are placed in their best positions. Just like footballers who excel when positioned appropriately, the lesson from all of these narratives made by me out of the abundance of empirical evidence is that Nigeria will triumph and overcome her existential challenges but only if merit, competence and professionalism are elevated as national ethos of Nigeria.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was a federal commissioner at the National Human Rights commission of Nigeria.