Whither NYSC With Gov Fayemi’s Call For Corps Members To Join Military
The Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, lately came under intense criticisms after recommending that members of the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) should be deployed to the military to join the fight against security challenges ravaging the country. Many of those who tackled or slammed the Ekiti governor for this suggestion may not know that the speaker is an expert in his own right, which makes his recommendation not entirely bunkum as many have dismissed it.
Fayemi’s intervention must have been informed by his academic background. The Ekiti governor has a doctorate degree in War Studies from King’s College, University of London, England, specializing in civil-military relations. To this extent, it can be conceded that Fayemi was not foraying into a subject that is beyond his handle. Moreso, he is the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). As such, he should have an appreciable understanding of Nigeria’s pervasive insecurity.
Fayemi’s controversial comment was contained in a lecture he delivered at a social event in Ibadan on Tuesday. His paper was titled: “Security and national unity in difficult times”, hence, it must have been convenient for the Governor to throw NYSC, which was envisioned to foster national unity, into the insecurity conundrum which the country is faced with.
While asserting that Nigeria needed at least additional 200,000 personnel to bolster the number of its security agents, the NGF Chairman said, “one of the cheapest and fastest ways to handle this is to amend the law setting up the National Youths Service Corps such that we can use the existing orientation camps to train willing and able graduates to reflate the security personnel under a special arrangement that will be worked out. That way, the fund that is currently deployed to the NYSC can be used with just some additional funding which could be sourced through a national emergency fund for the next five to 10 years.”
While the Governor should be commended for the fresh perspective introduced to a topical national discourse, a closer interrogation of his speech proves that his suggestions are not well thought out and shouldn’t come from a personality like Fayemi. For starters, he played up “existing orientation camps” which implies the course itself.
Ezenwoko’s Blog, therefore, asks how corps members can become security agents on the strength of the sort of training received during the orientation programme. The Governor didn’t even recommend them joining the police, but the military! Little wonder, most media platforms ran the story as Fayemi calling for NYSC members to be drafted into the fight against Boko Haram and bandits.
It is strange for Fayemi to have this expectation of corps members when their parent body which should coordinate such training, was recently caught telling their members to set aside the money to part with as ransom to bandits before traveling on high-risk roads. How then can such a scheme produce corps members who will effectively join the offensive against the brutal insecurity or insurgency in the country?
Thankfully, the NGF Chairman did not suggest the conscription of all NYSC members into military services but only based his advice on those who are willing. But can there be such willing corps members and parents when they looked beyond the military infantry or the Nigerian Defence Academy while enrolling for tertiary education?
Which university or polytechnic graduate who is already looking forward to building a career in the corporate world will opt to join the military? For such corps members, it remains to be seen how “a separate certificate and medal of honour in addition to having priority for military, paramilitary and civil or public service recruitment after service” would be enough incentive to leave the career path they’ve fashioned for themselves.
Ezenwoko’s Blog considers it even all the more unconscionable that going by Fayemi’s lecture, “willing” corps members will be posted to other parts of the country while “those who cannot join the military services can serve in their community without pay”. This is because many NYSC members save up their stipends to be used as capital with which to pursue their dreams at the end of service. Taking all of that away from them because they can’t join military services is unfair.
We, therefore, reject such recommendations. The Ekiti State Governor needs to be reminded that NYSC is the only inclusive government programme dedicated to the youth of Nigeria as it were. Unlike the Fayemi generation who enjoyed tuition-free education, school feeding, bursary allowances, scholarships, job opportunities when they were youth, NYSC is virtually the only package from the government to the youth of today. This is even as a huge chunk of public funds are still expended on his generation who have continued to hold power to the disadvantage of the youth.
If Fayemi’s recommendation sees the light of the day, it will even deny opportunity to other youth who are desirous of serving in the military. We believe that if the country is in need of additional 200,000 security personnel, the authorities should look the way of unemployed Nigerians or even the Civilian JTF that are already collaborating with the military in flashpoints of insecurity in the land.
Yet, the point has been made that the challenge of fighting insecurity in the country is not much of the problem of manpower shortage as it is of the paucity of modern equipment and armament with which to take the battle to the terrorists, bandits, and criminals of all sorts. If the battle has become so fierce that there is an urgent need of manpower, then there is also the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) whose dormant personnel can be easily trained and made to provide the type of military services Fayemi has in mind.
Ezenwoko’s Blog wonders what becomes of the current roles played by the NYSC if the proposition from the NGF Chairman holds sway. Is he insinuating that the NYSC has lost relevance? Decree No.51 of 16th June 1993 encapsulates 15 distinct objectives of the Scheme. Is it that these 15 objectives have so grown out of fashion to warrant a wholesale restructuring of the scheme?
When Fayemi’s recommendation is placed side by side the fact that a bill to scrap the NYSC was even considered in the House of Representatives in May 2021, it becomes obvious that the NYSC management must sit up and save the scheme from extinction. Let stakeholders and indeed all Nigerians rally around the NYSC so that it can live up to its pristine mandate. It is our strong belief that the country and her teeming youth need the scheme now more than ever.