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By NBF News
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The recent discovery of an illegal National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Orientation Camp within the premises of Kin Kin Primary School, Minna, Niger State, has once again confirmed reports of the existence of such fake NYSC camps across the country. Officials of the State Security Service (SSS), who smashed the fake camp, said victims of the scam were mostly graduates of part-time programmes run by some of our universities.

The victims, 21 females and 13 males, allegedly paid the syndicate running the scam various sums of money ranging from N120,000 to N350,000 each to participate in the illegal national service. One of the operators of the camp was arrested by the SSS.

The existence of fake orientation camps such as the one in Minna is a fallout of the desperation of some Nigerian graduates to participate in the NYSC scheme even when they are not statutorily qualified for it. Laws governing the operation of the NYSC programme bar persons over the age of 30 and graduates of part-time programmes who are naturally expected to be workers over the age of 30, from participating in the scheme. However, the problem of unemployment in the country has fueled desperation of both qualified and unqualified persons to take part in national service as a stop-gap measure to cushion the harsh effects of unemployment.

The dearth of jobs for fresh graduates, and the preference of many employers for young graduates with NYSC Discharge Certificates have made the acquisition of the certificate a compulsive affair for some older graduates.

These older graduates, ordinarily, should just collect NYSC Exemption Certificates and look for permanent jobs, but the jobs are not there. So they try to bribe their way into the NYSC, often ending up as victims of fraudulent schemes such as the one that has now been discovered in Minna.

We commend the SSS for smashing the illegal camp. The operator of the camp arrested during the raid should be properly grilled to unearth his collaborators in the devious scheme. It is possible that similar illegal orientation camps exist in the country. The SSS should sniff them out and ensure they are closed down. It is also highly unlikely that an illegal NYSC camp could be operated right in the capital of a state without the knowledge and connivance of some persons within the NYSC. Both the NYSC authorities and the SSS should therefore conduct thorough investigations to bring any person either closely or remotely connected to the illegal operation to book.

In addition, the authorities of the primary school that was used for the fake camp should be made to shed light on their operations. They should, for instance, know who they released their premises to before doing so. Indeed, their role in the ugly episode needs to be properly understood and evaluated. The NYSC has a responsibility to get to the root of this scam because it could cast a slur on the integrity of the scheme. The organisation must also consider the possibility that the illegal camp operators may have been issuing out genuine Discharge Certificates fraudulently obtained from its office.

One fact that is clear from this illegality is the need for the government to speed up job creation efforts, especially for young graduates. A situation in which graduates are desperate to enhance their chances of securing jobs via participation in the NYSC by foul means should further bring the scope of the employment crisis in the country to the authorities.

Henceforth, all security agencies in the country should work in concert to bust illegal NYSC operations throughout the country to preserve the integrity of the scheme.