NYSC has outlived its usefulness as an integration and unifying scheme. Let's not even pretend that it isn't outdated
Still smarting from the emotional trauma of the civil war, Nigeria created the NYSC scheme "in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country."
The 1973 Decree establishing the NYSC said the scheme was put up "with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity".
Make no mistake, the NYSC was a novel initiative.
Any scheme whose goal is to promote national unity or national integration, gets my vote.
But not anymore. The NYSC has since outlived its usefulness.
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The recent death of Oladepo Ifedapo Rachael, a 'Batch B' NYSC member at the orientation camp in Kano, should be the last.
Before Rachael, we had Miss Elechi who died in Bayelsa State from a strange ailment, Samuel Dumebi Okonta who was shot from point blank range during the 2016 rerun election in Rivers State, Dayo who drowned in a Port Harcourt river, Sampson Worlu who was abducted and killed in Rivers State and countless other Corp members who have lost their lives in the terrorist ravaged North East region of Nigeria.
Corp members have also recently lost their lives in Kano and Zamfara States.
During plenary this week, Senator Olusola Adeyeye agreed with a host of Nigerians when he said: "The death of Corps members is becoming a recurring decimal in almost all NYSC camps across the country as fresh Doctors who have not garnered any experience are the ones administering treatments to corp members.
“Medical facilities at most Orientation Camps leave a lot to be desired as one of the deceased, Ifedolapo, called home five hours to her death and told her sister, Mrs. Oyeyode Abimbola (a nurse) to start coming to her Kano Orientation Camp, alleging poor care at the NYSC camp.
“An Orientation Camp that houses over 3,000 corps members cannot boast of modern facilities to cater for the needs of corps members while undergoing the mandatory Orientation Programme.”
Truth is, almost all the deaths of NYSC members were avoidable--poor health-care at overcrowded and unkempt orientation camps, poor security in Boko Haram ridden areas, poor security during elections...we can go on and on.
In 43 years, we have sent young men and women to untimely graves. In 43 years, instead of integrating the country through the NYSC, we've created several religious and ethnic fault-lines instead.
In 43 years, we've watched helplessly as our kids, cousins and nephews have been sent to early graves in the name of "serving their country".
Their blood are on our hands. Yes, all of us.
These days, it's not uncommon to find graduates "working" their NYSC postings to Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt. Who wants their kids to serve in Borno, Yobe or Kano?
Here is the thing: the NYSC scheme doesn't need to be overhauled as some have suggested. It just needs to die. Let's bury this thing once and for all.
Some of us will eternally be grateful to the NYSC scheme for blessing us with science teachers at a time we had none; way back in secondary school
I attended a rural secondary school in a local government where Physics and Chemistry tutors were a luxury at the time. The school authorities depended on Corp members to prepare students for the West African Examination Council (WAEC) tests.
That was the '90s by the way.
Since then, the scheme has changed for the worst. The NYSC has become a killing field.
How I hate to type those words.
But that's the reality.
26-year-old Rachael will probably be alive today if she were back home with her folks in the South West or if she was doing some gainful work in a start-up in Lagos or Abuja. Or if she was born into a country with decent health-care or one where value is placed on human lives.
As will other Corp members who have lost their lives through no fault of theirs.
There's no shame in scrapping what isn't working any longer. Nigeria only needs to smell the coffee.