#NYSCAbuse: It is time for President Buhari to answer the NYSC question

The current wave of discontent against the NYSC began in the aftermath of the 2011 elections, when Buhari was on the losing side for the third time. As a result of the post-election violence in several Northern states, at least 800 people died per Human Rights Watch. Some of the dead were members of the NYSC who were on election duty, and who were caught up in the mayhem. As usual, no one was ever brought to book for it.

It resulted in parents and guardians doing even more to keep their children away from postings in the North. It made perfect sense: Since the Nigerian government cannot protect those carrying out national service, the closer the kids are, the better.

5 years later, Buhari is president. The latest examples of the NYSC neglecting its duty of care to these young people now demand a full response. The family of Ifedolapo Oladepo are grieving after their daughter went for orientation camp alive, and returns dead. She is not the only one lost recently. There are Monday Ukeme and Elechi Chiyerom, who died in the Zamfara and Bayelsa camps respectively.

There are others whose stories we have not heard, stories of people who have gone through countless injustices in the name of youth service. We are committed to telling those stories.

The President must take the lead in requesting an explanation from the Director-General of the NYSC about these deaths, and see that justice is done. That is the minimum he owes the grieving families and the nation.

If he does not, there will be more parents who reject postings far from home, trying to protect their children from the horrors of Nigeria.

Beyond that, the President must entertain the possibility that the NYSC has outlived its usefulness. The fact that it has been going on for the past 43 years, is not enough justification for the NYSC’s continued existence.

This is an institution that cannot guarantee the safety of its members, and has failed in its mandate to use the scheme to promote national unity.

One of the most effective arguments put forward by those who still support the NYSC, is that sending young people to different parts of the country for a year is supposed to foster unity by exposing us to various cultures. The NYSC’s establishment in 1973 was a response to a bloody and divisive civil war. However, there is no evidence, 43 years later, that Nigeria is any more united than it was in 1973. Many of those who took part in national service in its early years and went into politics, are leaders today. Yet, our political discourse is as divisive as ever.

There is no evidence that those who go to NYSC are more patriotic than the next person. If those who attended NYSC really loved Nigeria, we would not see the widespread neglect and corruption that is rampant in all sectors.

Even the authorities in the NYSC do not show good example to those in whom they are supposed to inculcate these values. They use the power they hold to oppress young people who are at their mercy.

On top of this, the NYSC has become a distraction for many, a waste of one year that could have been used to acquire a skill or undertake an internship that is much closer to the interests of the specific person.

Last month, Lagos scrapped the monthly environmental sanitation exercise that grounds the state for 3 hours every last Saturday of the month. The justification was that the exercise is incompatible with the status of Lagos as a megacity. It was deemed to be out of date, and was let go.

The NYSC is at a similar juncture. It is no longer fit for purpose, and should be let go.


Comments (0)

  1. is shocking NTSC should be scrapped out to save the live of innocent student

  2. he has no answer. Stop wasting your time expecting water from the moon

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