Issues on Arming Members of the National Youth Service Corps- Critical Evaluation

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INTRODUCTION.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was established in May 1973 by the military government of General Yakubu Gowon. The NYSC scheme was created in a bid to reconstruct, reconcile, and rebuild the country after the Nigerian civil war. The unfortunate antecedents in our country gave impetus to the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) by the Decree No 24 of 22nd May 1973, which stated that ‘The scheme is being established with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youth of the country and the promotion of national unity.’ (“NYSC...the end?” 19 July 2007. The Nation Online Newspaper. The scheme was designed to be in two phases: Deployment during the year resulting in a place of work where daily routine is centred on one’s particular academic qualifications. The second phase or part is the community service that requires each member to carry out tasks within their host-community, like construction of roads, wells or farming tohelp the less-privileged of the society. THE NEED FOR ARMING MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE CORPS. Following the soaring rates of killings, raping and kidnap of corp members nationwide, questions have arisen over the essence of the scheme as it now is. There have been calls from several quarters, both from religious leaders and the nation’s elite. Even many political leaders have called for the review or scrapping of the scheme. While many have argued against the scrapping of the scheme, citing the numerous benefits of the scheme, both to the nation and corp members themselves, they have called for an immediate review of the scheme to justify the essence for which it was established. Many Nigerians, who acknowledge the importance of the scheme, have called for reforms in the scheme to check the continued loss of lives of the corp members. Some argue that the scheme should adopt what they understand as ‘twinning’, an arrangement between any two states of the federation involving exchange of graduates of tertiary institutions.( Ropo Sekoni,” NYSC: A political initiative behind the times” 14 December 2008. The Nation Online Newspaper. http://www.thenationonlineng.net/archive2/tblnews_Detail.php?id=72530 11 January 2012.) Others propose that the scheme should be regionalised, that is, should be limited to the individual geopolitical zones in Nigeria. (Rahim Wasiu Mayowa, “Re-Scrap or regionalise NYSC programme”. 03 August 2011. The Tribune Online Newspaper http://www.tribune.com.ng/index.php/letters/26027-re-scrap-or-regionalise-nysc-programme. 10 January 2012). Some others suggest that the scheme should be made optional. (Akin Alada, “Responses to “Shedding Southern Nigerians’ blood for phantom unity must stop”” 11 October 2009. The Nation Online Newspaper. http://thenationonlineng.net/web2/articles/21410/1/Shedding-Southern Nigerians-blood-for-phantom-unity-must-stop/page1.html 10 January 2012.) But from the Decree No 24 of 22nd May 1973, which states that the NYSC is being established “with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties among the youths of Nigeria and the promotion of national unity” (from http://nysc.gov.ng/history2.php), it is clear that the basic objectives of the scheme would no longer be attainable if the above suggested reforms are adopted. It is against the backdrop of this that the writer seeks to evaluate the need for arming members of the youth corps as the only suggested reform which seems to offer the NYSC the opportunity of fulfilling her basic objectives other than doing nothing. Some of these include: The Failure of the Nigerian Government to Protect Youth Corp Members. The government of Nigeria at both federal and state levels has clearly shown its inability to secure the lives and property of the youths it sends on national assignment. There have been many cases of killings of corp members, especially in the northern part...
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