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Tsiga’s bomb in his bunker

AS Director-General of the National Youth  Service Corps, NYSC, Brigadier- General Maharazu Ismaila Tsiga is bound to protect interests in the NYSC, which at the moment are waning.

His threat to stop posting NYSC members to crisis-prone states is the military’s equivalent of throwing a bomb into his own bunker. The bad states in his list are Delta, Ebonyi and Plateau. It is difficult to understand which criteria were used in rating Nigeria’s crisis states that excluded Bauchi, Borno, Kano, and Yobe.

Gen. Tsiga would soon discover his statement in Ibadan could be the final call to glory for the NYSC. People have since the 2008 crisis in Jos tended to call for an end to the scheme that commenced in 1973 with noble ideals that a generous dose of poor leadership has killed.

How can the Director-General of the NYSC join those calling for a minimalisation of the scheme? If there was a crisis in a particular state in one year does that mean that it would not be the turn of another state next year?

Calls for an end to the NYSC scheme have been strident. The reasons mostly reflect the country’s under-utilisation of a scheme that should have been used to develop rural Nigeria and link its resources to the larger economy.

At inception, the scheme aimed at establishing Nigeria as a united, strong, self-reliant nation, with a great and dynamic economy; a land of bright and full opportunities for all citizens; and a free and democratic society.

Nigerian youths through the scheme were expected to imbibe the spirit of selfless service to the community, emphasise the oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians, no matter their cultural or social background. These noble visions have been permitted to whither under the careless watch of our leaders, who find pleasure in starving the NYSC of funds.

The major plank of the calls to end the scheme is the death of three NYSC members during the 2008 Jos crisis and the murder of Miss Grace Ushang from Cross River State last year in Borno State. These incidents are regrettable.

However, those using them as proof of the dangers the scheme poses to lives have failed to establish that these people died because they were NYSC members. Scores of NYSC members die annually through road accidents — there have been no bans on road travels for NYSC members, or a list of states with bad roads so that the NYSC would stop posting people to serve there.

The challenges of running the NYSC, providing security for all Nigerians, encouraging Nigerians to be more tolerable of each other are too daunting to solve with dismissive measures like the one Tsiga proposes.

His decisions to exclude some states from receiving NYSC members is possibly the most disingenuous blow done to the scheme, worsened by the fact that is from within.


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