By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA- To boost the welfare of serving National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, members, the Federal Government will be injecting about N14 billion into the scheme as corps members’ allowances, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, has said.
Dare, who stated this at the opening ceremony of the 2023 NYSC annual management conference in Abuja yesterday, however, charged the top management of the Scheme to think outside the box to develop and initiate reforms to maintain the relevance of the Scheme.
He also stated certain events in the country, particularly the #EndSARS mass protest of 2020 and the February 25 presidential election had taught stakeholders the lesson that no segment of the country could ignore the demands of the youths without consequences.
The minister said: “The final document and the approval is been awaited for us to increase and improve the quality of the uniforms of our corps members by increasing the amount of money (for it) almost double.
“We also plan to increase the amount of money for bicycle allowance, feeding allowance, and compensation to the staff.
“All of that has been done and has gone to the relevant agencies and Ministry of Finance. I’m sure that as it makes its way to the presidency it will get a positive response that will see an injection of fourteen billion (N14bn) into the corps and welfare for the NYSC.
“I, therefore, want to challenge the NYSC to depart from the norm and think outside the box. Take the road less traveled and come up with critical reforms that will make the NYSC better than what it is.
“We need internal reforms because we deal with a very sensitive population. Since the #EndSARS happened, and then the February 25 and the March 18 elections, no segment of this country can ever or should ever ignore the youths of our country. They make up 41 per cent of the voting population.
“The youths of this country deserve investment in skills but also those of us entrusted with taking care of them must be sensitive to their needs and also to the issues that are affecting them today.”
The Minister, however, expressed optimism that the proposed NYSC Trust Fund bill would soon receive President Muhammadu Buhari’s assent, stressing that the initiative would make fund available for Corps entrepreneurs to establish their businesses and advance their trainings in the Scheme’s Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme.
He said: “Just last week, I received the final document of the passed NYSC Trust Fund Bill awaiting the assent of the President. I have returned it to the presidency with a resounding ‘yes’ so the president can give his assent.
“Under the NYSC Trust Fund, we have a major component to extend the SAED programme from three weeks to one year and to provide matching fund at the end of the service year.”
Earlier, the Director-General of NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Yusha’u Ahmed, noted that since the establishment of NYSC in 1973, it had remained a reference point for other organisations due to its vital roles in the promotion of national unity and integration.
“It is also a reference for peaceful co-existence among Nigerians of diverse socio-cultural backgrounds and free movement of labour.
“The contributions of the scheme in the areas of health, education, rural infrastructure, culture and tourism, sports, conduct of elections, population census and job creation, amongst others are enormous. They have earned it commendations from within and outside the country,” he added.
Ahmed commended the contributions of all stakeholders to the achievements of the scheme so far, saying the NYSC would use the conference to consolidate and build on them by evolving new ideas for greater impact.
He, therefore, called on critical stakeholders to support the scheme toward addressing some of its challenges, adding that he was also hopeful that the NYSC Trust Fund would be actualised soon.
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