From its establishment in 1973 to date, the National Youth Service Corps has, no doubt, played pivotal roles in not only preparing young graduates for leadership challenges but also forging the bond of unity.
Years after the establishment of the scheme, as should be expected, there are arguments for and against its continued existence, with some insisting that the scheme had outlived its usefulness.
Fundamentally, the scheme, in the considered opinion of this newspaper, has lived up to expectations and deserves to be strengthened and not scrapped as being advocated in some quarters.
There is no contesting the fact that the NYSC is playing a critical role in fostering the country’s economic and social development.
For instance, in the health sector, the services of NYSC doctors have been invaluable just as in the educational sector where corps members have been playing fundamental roles in tandem with the overall drive of addressing the nation’s educational needs.
It is on the strength of this that we believe that recent efforts to set up the NYSC Trust Fund deserves the support of all and sundry considering the fact that it will provide the impetus to boost the Skill and Entrepreneurship Development Programme for corps members.
Undoubtedly, when established and properly managed, the NYSC Trust Fund will play a critical role in harnessing the vast potentialities of the teeming youths in the country.
It is heartening to note that in its intendment, the Fund is designed to support corps members trained under the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme with start-up capital to develop their businesses.
This will no doubt help in harnessing the vast potential of these youths and ultimately serve as a sure pathway to peace, prosperity and growth.
Essentially, the Fund, when established, will support the overall drive for job creation. There is no contesting the fact that the government and, indeed, all other relevant stakeholders have a responsibility to ensure young people have the opportunities and tools necessary to attain their full potential.
It is common to see graduates idling away for lack of jobs years after completing the mandatory one-year service. With proper management, the NYSC Trust Fund, when established, will contribute largely to helping the government change the narrative of youth unemployment.
Viewed from this prism, we applaud the lower chamber of the National Assembly where the bill has already passed first reading, for the conscientious manner in which members are considering the Bill.
As a newspaper, we believe that the NYSC Trust Fund is one plausible initiative that would stand the test of time if properly handled. Interestingly, the Trust Fund will, among other things, provide a sustainable source of funds for the NYSC Skill Acquisition training and startup capital for corps members.
The Fund will also develop camps and NYSC formations, provide facilities therein, improve the general welfare of corps members and personnel of the scheme and enhance their preparedness to effectively discharge their statutory duties of promoting national unity, integration, self-reliance and accelerated development of the nation’s economy.
The Trust Fund will deal with graduate unemployment and strengthen the operations of the scheme in the same manner the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, the Police Equipment Trust Fund and the Petroleum Technology Development Fund aid the operations of the affected sectors.
However, as preparations for the establishment of the Fund gathers steam, we wish to warn against some of the ills that have continued to impede effective functioning of similar schemes.
There is no contesting the fact that corruption, favouritism in the area of recruitment and appointment of personnel, and undue political interference are among the major factors hampering the effective functioning of some of such existing funding mechanisms.
Should the government allow the above-listed vices to crawl into the operations of the NYSC Trust Fund when it is eventually established, then the whole essence of its coming into existence would have been defeated.
Therefore, when it is finally established, the government and all those connected with its effective operations must be diligent and circumspect in managing the funds and do all that is required in ensuring that the Fund works for the purposes it was established.