By NBF News

2010 as year of excellence at NYSC
By Emma Ibeleme
Thursday, March 04, 2010

If the past one year was eventful in the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Brigadier-General Maharazu Tsiga, Director General is determined to make his second year in office more memorable.

He has already set the machinery in motion to achieve this. Between January 25 and February 26 this year, the Director General has hosted three workshops, three interactive meetings with top management staff and stakeholders of the scheme and a forum with corps members. All these were aimed at laying the foundation for moving the scheme forward.

The NYSC recorded landmark achievements in the last year under Brig-Gen Tsiga. Among the recorded achievements included the conduct and release of staff promotion interview and economic empowerment of corps members through trainings and soft loans. The NYSC had launched War Against Poverty, WAP, a scheme the DG said was aimed at finding solution to post service employment for corps members.

This has led to the introduction of NYSC Cooperative Ventures Scheme and other entrepreneurial development initiatives. Soft loans are given to corps members who successfully under went entrepreneurial training and capacity building by Corps Cooperative Ventures, the War Against Poverty, WAP, and the NYSC Foundation; development of orientation camps witnessed as successful. Batches A, B and C orientation courses took off successfully. Corps members were empowered through collaborative trainings and soft loans by the Corps Cooperative Ventures, the War Against Poverty, WAP scheme and the NYSC Foundation.

The newest pet, WAP, which is supported by the Millennium Development Goals, MDG, is another bold step to realizing their dream. In fact, previous participants in the programme are already emerging as beacons of hope. That is why the Director-General has vowed to discontinue the uncomfortable situation where ex-corps members roamed the streets in search of non-existent white collar jobs. This singular but definite measure shows that the NYSC management is committed to the post service life of corps members. This is also one concrete evidence that Tsiga truly believes in his often repeated saying that it is better to teach a man how to fish than to just give him fish for a single meal.

Interestingly, other stakeholders are commending the entrepreneurial training for corps members, as a deliberate effort to build a new generation of ex-corps members who would be captains of industries and employers of labour rather than job seekers. So, the corps members were urged at their recent workshop to make the best use of the training opportunity. Similarly, the NYSC is in collaboration with several other agencies that will assist them to achieve their lofty objectives. Such other agencies include the Central Bank of Nigeria , CBN, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, National Directorate for Employment, NDE and NYSC Foundation, amongst others.

Highlighting the objective of the NYSC/CBN/NDE collaborative entrepreneurial workshop which held at NYSC orientation camps in Nasarawa, Kano, Osun and Abia States between January 25 and 30, this year, Brigadier-General Tsiga said the main objective of the workshop was to train the corps members to be self-reliant, to discover their innate abilities, provide them information and basic growth, especially after the national service.

Staff promotions have been held. The 2009 NYSC cultural and sports festivals were also successfully held. The 2009 NYSC's president's Honours Award ceremony and developed orientation camps in liaison with state governments were also held. To secure the future of NYSC, 15 regional offices have been established across the country to promote effective monitoring and welfare of corps members and also create vacancies internally and externally for the scheme. Each of the 15 regional offices will be manned by directors on salary grade level 17, with four deputy directors, eight assistant directors, 24 senior staff from levels 10 - 14 and 24 other supporting staff from levels 03 - 09.

Another significant measure so far taken affects the women. Pregnancy test which became controversial has been substituted with undertaking format that will be filled by all female corps members. This will absolve the NYSC from any pregnancy-related complications that may arise as a result of camp activities for those that claim not to be pregnant.

Another interesting development which has taken place since Tsiga's one year in the saddle is end of era of threats, use of derogatory and abusive utterances on staff which contributed to their demoralization. Unlike in the past when the atmosphere of demoralized workforce bred industrial disharmony, disloyalty and disrespect which eventually spelt doom for the NYSC, the Tsiga era of values anchored on productivity, integrity, mutual respect, hard work, team work, excellence and commitment to the survival and strength of the scheme, is now the order of the day.

The Director General knows the significance of corps members allowance to the beneficiaries. Not surprisingly therefore, he called on the state coordinators to be kind enough to the corps members by not rushing to submit their clearance papers. Instead, he asked that they be given some days of grace, that the coordinators should not be arbitrary in punishing them by seizing their allowances and certificates of national service.

Indeed, he frowned at instances where some state coordinators went as far as, and to the utter embarrassment of the headquarters, arrogating the powers to extend service of corps members without following due process, actions which at times had been redressed by the affected corps members who dragged the NYSC to court.

To bridge the communication gap, the director-general has deliberately chosen to maintain open communication with the corps members. The advantages here are many. These have already manifested in three clear instances when corps members who could not link up with their state coordinators were saved during armed robbery incidents in such places like Gombe, Enugu and Kaduna .

It is noteworthy that the director-general particularly singled out for cultivation, rapport with the media so as to attract wide publicity of NYSC activities to correct public misconception.

Yet others are prompt response to call circulars from the headquarters; periodic rendition of reports on all aspects of administration and management and volume and frequency of public functionaries' attendance of NYSC programmes.

Perhaps what is considered by far the greatest challenge confronting Brigadier General Tsiga is the growing clamour for the scrapping of the scheme. Going by what this gentleman soldier has achieved in such a short time in areas of national development like health services, education, national unity, community development, and the very lofty objectives of the scheme, such calls cannot but be seen for what they are – dishonest and hence unnecessary.

It is unfair for anyone to call for the scrapping of the only programme that affords the Nigerian youths the opportunity to express themselves and to participate in the development of national integration.

• Ibeleme wrote from Abuja