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COVID-19: Appreciating NYSC’s Leading Role By Laz Zoho



The National Youth Service Corps has been in the news since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. It has been argued in some quarters on the safety of corp members while in orientation camps. I recall that some called for the suspension of the NYSC orientation camp exercise indefinitely. While I agreed with them to an extent, I also disagreed to a large extent owing to the strategic importance of the three weeks orientation camp exercise.

Let’s not forget that its an orientation camp exercise and therefore its usefulness cannot be overemphasized. So, in a way, I was glad that the leadership of the NYSC had done tremendously in ensuring that the various orientation camps across the country are safe for corp members participating in the three-week orientation exercise.

According to available information, the NYSC has ensured that the number of participants allowed into camp was reduced nationwide to provide enough room for physical and social distancing. Also, the NYSC partnered with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, which saw the NCDC surveillance team and State Health Officials on NYSC Camps nationwide.

Also instructive is that everyone aiming to gain entrance into the NYSC camps must undergo a compulsory COVID- 19 test, and only those that test negative are granted entry for the orientation exercise. This is commendable.

The above, in my opinion, is brilliant and a function of purposeful leadership that should be replicated at all levels of governance in the country. I think other agencies of government whose activities are critical ought to devise means to overcome challenges associated with the COVID 19 pandemic, just like what the NYSC has done and still doing.

I stand to be corrected; the current leadership team of the NYSC has been quite empathic in turning the fortunes of the NYSC around for good. The innovations have been worth the while for corp members. They have reclaimed their pride of place in critical sectors of the economy, and they are now engaged in skills and entrepreneurship development initiatives.

The NYSC has also been reputed to be at the forefront in curtailing the further spread of the virus through the strategic engagement of corp members in the production of hand sanitizers, face masks, and other associated protective shields under its Skills and Entrepreneurship Development initiatives.

This is aside how NYSC doctors have been providing critical services in public hospitals across the country in the aftermath of the strike action by Resident doctors across the country. To say hundreds of lives were saved would be an understatement. And again, this reinforces the strategic importance of the NYSC in the socio-economic development of Nigeria.

Suppose indeed we are desirous of making progress as a country. In that case, we must begin the process of further equipping a scheme such as the NYSC for more remarkable exploits in ways such as increasing its funding and also exploring the possibility of extending the service year to enable maximum utilization of that critical workforce in our youths towards addressing some the challenges confronting the country.

For example, in the educational and health sectors, the government can leverage the NYSC scheme to provide critical services beneficial to all and sundry. Again, the government must realize that the country can attain sustainable growth and development by continuously engaging our youths in ventures that keeps them busy for a specified period, as availed by the NYSC programme. The implication of this is that many things would fall into place, such as reducing crime and criminality and a drastic decrease in the rate of unemployment in the country.

Jobs would also be created, and the craze for non-existent white-collar jobs would be curtailed. And Nigeria would be better for it. I remain an advocate for the NYSC scheme because, as a development expert, I understand that no country develops without the inputs of its youthful population. And with the exploits in the NYSC scheme in recent times, I think we might be on the path of sustainable growth and development if the government elects to focus on ways it could improve the NYSC.

I would also say that the coronavirus pandemic has reinforced the narrative on how critical it is for the youths to lead the charge. The NYSC has been exceptional in this regard, and it behoves us to continue to extend our support to the scheme. The leadership team of the NYSC has also set a standard that ought to be emulated in leadership in the country.

From its strategic management of the orientation camps in the COVID 19 era to its interventions in critical sectors in the economy, it has been a tale of service to Nigeria. I do not believe that such be allowed to go unnoticed for obvious reasons.

At this point, I would urge others in leadership positions to emulate the NYSC scheme in service to the country. We must think outside the box at this critical point of our existence. And the time is indeed now, with the NYSC leading the pack.

Zoho wrote this piece from Makurdi, Benue State.


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