The bill to amend the 1999 constitution to discontinue the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme is not in the interest of the nation, a civil society group has said.
Kicking against the move, the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) described it as an evil plot against Nigerian youths.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday in Abuja, Executive Secretary, Comrade Isaac Ikpa, said the relevance of the scheme to contemporary Nigeria can’t be overemphasised.
Established on May 22, 1973, by the military regime of General Yakubu Gowon under Decree No. 24 of 1973, the
the primary objective was to reconcile and reintegrate Nigerians after the civil war.
But the lawmaker representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro Federal Constituency of Rivers State, Awaji-Inombek Abiante, had argued that the scheme has overstayed its usefulness.
According to Ikpa, the scheme also provides most youths with the opportunity for self-reliance in preparation for life ahead through the allowances paid and the experiences they go through.
Describing the move as “anti-youth, anti-people and misplaced”, he added that it is targeted at removing the last institutional framework for national stability and cohesion to satisfy the criminal mindset of a few Nigerians hiding in the National Assembly as lawmakers.
He, therefore, called on all well-meaning Nigerians to “see this attempt as an affront to our sensibilities by a select few that are hell-bent on destabilising the youthful population in Nigeria, which on its own is a recipe for conflict”.
The CSO urged all Nigerians to mobilise in their large number to stop the bill as quickly as possible, adding that if there is any crucial moment in history to reinforce the essence of the exercise, it’s now.
It, however, called on the leadership of the National Assembly to put the interest of the country at heart and halt further deliberations on the grossly ill-informed bill.
The CSO also urged the Federal Government to do all within its means to ensure that those against the interest of the country do not succeed in disorienting its youthful population.
“This is indeed a sad chapter in the book of our dear country in the sense that it has become evident that the purveyors of conflict and the agents of destabilization are at work to earnestly set the country up in flames by muting the idea of scrapping the National Youth Service Scheme.”
“The relevance of the NYSC in contemporary Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. That the NYSC has evolved over the years in fulfilling its mandate of bridging ethnic and religious divisions in Nigeria and fostering the spirit of Nigerian nationalism is a statement of fact.
“It is, therefore, worrisome that some vested interest would attempt to push for the scrapping of such as initiative that is well-grounded to address the various ethnic and religious agitations and tensions in the country.
“It is, therefore, the considered view of the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency that the call for the scrapping of the NYSC is not only disjointed, it is also of poor taste and a puerile attempt at plunging the country into a crisis of unimaginable proportion.
“It is also our considered view that the proponents of the Bill seeking for the scrapping of the NYSC failed to realize that hundreds of thousands of young Nigerian graduates look forward to participating in the one-year mandatory service.
“They also failed to realize that the one year service year provides most youths with the opportunity for self-reliance in preparation for life ahead through the allowances paid to them and the experiences they go through in their service year.
“The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency is therefore alarmed that the Bill seeking for the scrapping of the NYSC has reached second reading in the House of Representatives. This is indicative that patriotism in Nigeria has been thrown to the dogs.”