A former Military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, says he is proud of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) for achieving its mandate in its 44 years of existence.
Gowon made the statement in Abuja on Friday when the NYSC Director-General, Brig.-Gen. Sulaiman Kazaure, and other top management staff of the organization paid him a courtesy visit at the Yakubu Gowon Centre on his 83rd birthday.
He said his administration fought to establish the NYSC in 1973 after the Nigerian civil war, to use it as a tool to promote national unity and integration of the country.
Gowon said that the organization had achieved beyond its mandate, contrary to some opinions.
According to him, some people have shown their determination to kill the NYSC.
“They are saying it should be scrapped. They believe that the NYSC has out-lived its usefulness and so is no longer relevant to the society.
“The scheme has done a lot to bring about national unity and integration.
“There is no community you go to today where corps members are not serving and the support they bring to local communities is great.
“The reason my government established the NYSC was to initiate reconciliation among Nigerians after the civil war.
“We also sought to establish it for Nigerians to know each other more; promote national unity and encourage the NYSC to offer services to communities around them.
“We fought to establish it and I am proud of the scheme and all it has achieved and continue to do for the youth and the country.
“The NYSC should not be taken out of the constitution. Although some persons have said it should be scrapped.
“If you listen to public opinion, you will find out that corps members are against the scrapping of the scheme.
“This is because they understand and know its relevance and importance to their development and future,’’ Gowon said.
He advised the scheme to operate an open-door policy where it can entertain suggestions from past and serving corps members on how to move the scheme forward.
Earlier, Kazaure said the management of the scheme was on the visit to identify and celebrate with Gowon on his birthday.
He lauded Gowon’s efforts in establishing the scheme, stating that corps members were in all parts of the country, carrying out their national service.
The director-general said the corps members were bringing growth and development to communities and helping to foster unity and integration.
“The NYSC says thank you for all you have done for the scheme; 44 years after, the scheme is still standing strong.
“We will keep the scheme alive to continue to bring about unity and development for the youth and the nation.
“On behalf of the NYSC, we wish you a happy birthday,’’ Kazaure said.
The NYSC was established on May 22, 1973 during the Gowon administration.
The company was established in a bid by the regime to bring foster rehabilitation, re-construction and reconciliation after the civil war.
Gowon turned 83 years on Oct. 19.