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NYSF Trust Fund and Matters Arising, By Emmanuel Abe Kolawole

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I stumbled on a piece of news recently on the National Youth Service Corp Trust Fund (NYSCT-F). The news item was an interesting one in the sense that it took the NYSC-TF to the cleaners. These are indeed interesting times that I wondered what country we have here.

The news story alluded that some top army generals are behind the NYSC Trust Fund to serve as a retirement package. I think whoever it was behind the story must have woken up from the wrong side of his bed, and as such, his brain must have worked anti-clockwise.

As a start, is the NYSC-TF a brainchild of the Nigerian Army? Is the NYSC a command under the Nigerian Army? What is the business of the Nigerian Army with youth empowerment? These and many more are asking questions from the sponsors of that news item.

I recall I have stated on numerous occasions that the NYSC-TF remains one of the best policies that has come out in recent times regarding youth development in the country. Its provisions are brilliant and a novel initiative primed to address youth development and empowerment challenges.

I also need to mention that the NYSC-TF is a product of critical thinking by representatives of all state governments and FCT Administration, whose responsibility it is to fund the Scheme, civil society as well as other stakeholders in the country. I also recall that it was thoroughly scrutinized in the public space before the National Assembly passed it. I stand to be corrected; the challenge with the recent diatribe on the relevance of the NYSC-TF is because of its potential to bring about meaningful development in the country through the NYSC scheme.

Don’t forget that the NYSC itself had come under massive attack regarding its relevance in the scheme of things in the country. Some said it had lost its significance and should be scrapped. But as usual, they failed woefully as the scrap NYSC agitations could not be sustained.

I dare say that the contributions of the NYSC to nation-building cannot be overemphasized. An example could be seen during the strike action embarked by resident doctors across the country. It is on record that NYSC doctors and nurses stood in the gap and averted what could have been a national disaster.

Another example was evident during the coronavirus pandemic, where corp members were engaged in sensitization and production of PPEs to halt the further spread of the virus. The contributions of the NYSC in the critical educational and agricultural sectors were also noteworthy.

Back to the crux, the NYSC-TF is a masterstroke when one analises the number of youths that pass through the scheme yearly. And suppose there is a ready pool of funds that is availed these numbers to become entrepreneurs and employers of labour. In that case, the multiplier effect can only be imagined.

We must admit that our youthful population is an asset to the country. The role of youths in nation-building is more important than you might think. They are the building blocks of a nation. The youth can bring social reform and improvement to society.

Furthermore, the country requires their participation to achieve the goals and help take the country towards progress. If this remains factual, it behoves on the government to initiate policies and programmes to help the youth of our country achieve their potential. And the NYSC-TF fits this narrative.

With the benefit of hindsight, one could imagine the gains that would have been recorded in the country if this policy had been introduced some years back. Given the right environment, we are talking about young and brilliant minds bustling with innovations that could turn the country’s fortunes around. This is what the NYSC-TF aims to achieve, in my considered opinion.

The country must do more to ensure young people have the opportunities and tools necessary to succeed. The NYSC-TF has all it takes for the government to change the narrative. The future is bright, and I urge all young people in Nigeria to see this as that golden opportunity to translate their hopes and aspirations into tangible realities.

Those that are against this initiative ought to have a rethink. They need to come to terms with the reality on the ground. Playing politics with the future of our youths must be discouraged. I expect to read positive news items about the NYSC-TF. I also hope to see advocates of the enormous potential of the fund come out in support of it.

We must get it right regarding youth development in the country as obtained in other countries. Nigeria’s burgeoning youth population provides a huge social, economic and political capital required to drive the nation’s development. This much should occupy our minds daily.

The enormous benefits are guaranteed to put smiles on the faces of our teeming youthful population, whose burgeoning spirit is ready to take flight given the right atmosphere. We must not miss this opportunity, for posterity will not be kind to us.

Kolawole an activist, former PRO, NANS wrote from Akure.

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