The National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, which was established in May 1973 by the military government of General Yakubu Gowon, 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 be scrapped.

The NYSC on its own is a faultless programme. But like the Nigerian project, 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 of 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; patriotic and loyal service 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 mobilization 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.

“What else can any patriotic Nigerian ask for?” asked Marcel Umesi, an NYSC member who is currently serving in Jigawa State Radio. The excited corpse member who made a short trip to Abuja told this magazine that 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 because of any lack of vision. Some how, the problem of NYSC, like the problem of Nigeria, is artificial.

Before the coming of NYSC, apart from the itinerant and ubiquitous Igbo people of South-East Nigeria, many other Nigerians did not so much 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, and apart from doing their service year, 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.

Compared to the Nigerian military which has produced countless number of Generals, Rear Admirals and Air Vice Marshals even without having the benefit of firing a gun shot at any war, the NYSC is a scheme that must be sustained.