Prof. Olurotimi Ajayi, the Vice-Chancellor, Crawford University, Igbesa, Ogun, has advised that the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme should not be scrapped.
Ajayi said in Lagos on Wednesday that the NYSC scheme was a national heritage and a symbol of Nigeria’s unity.
He spoke against the backdrop of the clamour by some people that the scheme should be scrapped.
The scheme was established in 1973 by then Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country after the Nigerian Civil war.
The scheme, set up by decree No. 24 of May 22, 1973, seeks the development of common ties among Nigerian youths and the promotion of national unity.
Ajayi said that the NYSC scheme should be protected and preserved, since its objective was the promotion of national unity among Nigerians, which it was fulfilling.
He said, “The NYSC scheme is fulfilling its mandate and nothing should hamper its operations; if anything, it must be guarded jealously.
“The scheme was set up to achieve a target of fostering unity among the ethnic tribes in Nigeria, which it has been performing to a large extent.
“I will not in any way support its scrapping because aside that of unity, it also helps the youths to visit other parts of the country.
“Ordinarily, some of the youths wouldn’t have had the opportunity to travel to those places, save the scheme. But more importantly, it enables youths from across the country the opportunity to interact.”
The vice-chancellor said rather than abolish the scheme, government could look at its challenges in order to put it right.
He said, “Rather than scrap the scheme, government should look at the challenges facing the scheme such as insecurity, poor incentives and welfare of the corps members.
“Government can also try to look into restructuring the scheme for better efficiency and coordination; it can be made a skill acquisition centre for youths.
“Corps members that are not comfortable with some parts of the country due to security reasons should not be forced to go there because safety of the corps members comes first.
“The corps members’ allowances should also be reviewed to reflect present realities.”