Former INEC Chairman Jega Calls for End to Compulsory NYSC Program, Gives Reason

Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Athahiru Jega, has suggested that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) should not be compulsory.

POLITICS NIGERIA reports that Jega made this known while speaking at the opening ceremony of the NYSC 50th anniversary celebration in Abuja.

He stated that only military activities should be mandatory, and the youth service corps should be voluntary for qualified and high achieving youths.

Jega further suggested that only the best graduates who express interest in the programme should be selected, with adequate provisions such as funding and facilities to enable them function effectively during the service programme. He added that selected individuals should also be mentored to occupy special positions in the country.

However, Jega insisted that if the programme must be mandatory for the massive number of graduates who turn out from higher institutions, then all resources and facilities to make it effective and impactful must be provided. He mentioned that remunerations of Corps members were poor and that security for them should be taken seriously to end the agitation for the scrapping of the scheme.

Additionally, Jega raised several challenges that the scheme suffered from, such as lack of cooperation from some state and local governments who have refused to lend their statutory support to the scheme, as well as the fraudulent enlistment of unqualified and/or fake graduates by tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

He said: “I recommend that NYSC should be made voluntary but with qualifications. Take the best graduates who want to participate who are interested in participating for the exercise and adequate provisions should be made such as funding, facilities, mentorship so that they are trained to occupy special positions in the country.”

“If the must provide mandatory, then provide all the resources and facilities to make it effective and impactful.”

“If any activity doesn’t have to do with the military, then it should not be mandatory especially if it is supposed to have value to the country and for it to achieve it’s effective purpose,” he said.

On the other hand, the Deputy Governor of Oyo State, Adebayo Lawal, expressed a different opinion, stating that the one-year service scheme should remain mandatory.

He noted that the scheme has helped to inculcate discipline in youths who have passed through it and has promoted unity and development in the country.

Minister for Youths and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare, acknowledged that part of the achievements of the scheme was seen during the lockdown when corps members produced preventive materials such as face masks, hand sanitizers, automated hand washing equipment, and disinfectants, which were distributed for free to complement government efforts in the fight against the virus.

He also stated that “it was a replication of what the NYSC did in rolling back the menace of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the Ebola virus through awareness campaigns which saved our dear country from the ugly experience of other developing countries.”

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