All Nigerian students in studying for a first degree in polytechnics, university or other higher educational institution cannot just graduate and join the labour market just like that, even if they get such offers. There is a one-year obligatory national service they must go through, and each graduate must participate in this program established by the government many years ago. Let us learn the history of NYSC in Nigeria.
The four capitalized letters NYSC stand for the National Youth Service Corps, the program created by the government of Nigeria to involve young people in future country’s progress and improvements.
Many modern countries have military mobilization but this is not the case with the most populated African country. Instead, Nigeria makes university graduates enroll in the NYSC for 1 year after graduation. This program is often referred to as ‘national service’ and it is headed by a military general.
When was NYSC established?
The history of NYSC in Nigeria began in 1973. The country wanted to reunite after the Civil war that was over in 1970. The official document that outlined the new scheme was signed on May 22, 1973. According to it, the idea of the National Youth Service Corps creation was to develop and encourage the better connection among young Nigerians and the rise of nationwide unity.
The first DG of NYSC (this main position is called Director-General of the National Youth Service Coprs) was retired military officer Ahmadu Ali. He took that position from 1973 till 1975 when he was promoted to the Minister of Education.
The program was expected to train future leaders of the country. The participation of particular youth categories in the scheme was an important step towardS future changes. It was believed that all Nigerians who went through the program would be provided with a good guidance and orientation according to the needs of the whole Nigeria.
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The 1973 document (Decree No. 24) got some changes 20 years later. The NYSC substituted it with a new Decree No. 51 document in 1993. This is the document that still outlines the ideas and goals of the scheme in 2018.
Today’s purpose of the program:
- Introduce young people to the essence of self-sacrificing service to the Nigerian community.
- Highlight the spirit of oneness regardless of the background (social, cultural).
- Emphasize the essence of the brotherhood of all citizens of Nigeria.
The current NYSC leader is Sule Zakari Kazaure. He got this job in 2016 after his predecessor Johnson Olawumi (GD of NYSC in 2014-2016) was appointed as commandant of one of the Nigerian army schools.
Who NYSC corpers are
The NYSC corpers are graduates (who are under 30 years old) who participate in this one-year program after getting their higher education degree. ‘Corper’ is only used to describe the fresh graduates that are going through the mandatory programme.
Corpers are usually sent to distant cities far from their hometown. This should supposedly help them connect with other cultures, learn other social life and tribe backgrounds, get closer to other ethnic groups Nigerians. The programme was aimed at helping young educated Nigerians learn to value, respect different ethnic groups, and appreciate different cultures within the country.
Each one year programme consists of a 3-week orientation, when corpers have to go through simple paramilitary training. Then follows the educational part in remote cities resulting in the ‘passing out ceremony’ once the program is over. Each participant is awarded an NYSC certificates which is an important document for gaining employment in Nigeria.
There are different opinions regarding NYSC scheme. We only know one truth. Every country’s future fully depends on its youth and patriotism.
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