The NYSC's decision to charge prospective corp members a N4000 fee to print call-up letters on-line is a "a dangerous, fraudulent journey".
It is no more news that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is planning to charged as much as N4,000 from prospective corp members starting with 2015 Batch A.
The decision, even before its activation, has already been rejected by a large section of the Nigerian populace.
If we are to calculate with the average of 100,000 enlistments per year, then the NYSC will rake in no less than N400,000,000 in all three batches A, B and C.
For most, it no more than fraud — "a dangerous, fraudulent journey" as stated in a recent Editorial in the Guardian newspaper.
"For a scheme in which the Federal Government picks all bills, what exactly forced the NYSC management into this, or better still, what does the management plan to do with the hundreds of millions of naira to be raised every year at an average of 100,000 enlistments?
"It is certainly bizarre for anybody to make it mandatory for Nigeria’s sons and daughters to pay to serve their country," the Guardian editorial read.
Not even the explanation offered on Wednesday by the NYSC in Abuja can clean-up the foul air created by this foul decision.
According to the Director General of NYSC, Brig-General Johnson Olawumi, the N4,000 call-up letters printing fee was for the services and infrastructure of “SIDMACH Technologies Nigeria Limited”, which it partnered with for the computerisation of the orientation and mobilisation process.
It must be remembered that when the scheme NYSC was established on the 24th of May 22, 1973, to promote unity and cultural unification, it was not meant to be a burden for the corp members.
It is a sacrifice enough that Nigerian youth have to give a year of their lives in service of a nation that barely offers then anything tangible in return.
Now, Nigerians must not only be made to understand why they have to contribute this sum which the scheme says can be paid via “any bank’s ATM card or the PIN vending option”, but also how the roughly N400m a year revenue will be spent.
It is high time that Nigerians are seen as citizens, cared for by the government, not a group of subjects that can be milked with whatever policies comes to mind.
Perhaps it is time to remind Brig-General Olawumi of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) disaster that started with a similar charge.