National Youth Corp Service

National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) was set up to encourage ease of movement for Nigerians. It used to be a gateway for securing decent jobs. For a long time now, this is not the case in, as at the end of the service year is when the real hustle begins.

Nigeria sends thousands of youths out every year to different parts of the country for the purpose of youths given back to the country that has supported them through their years of higher education. This was supposed to help us learn and appreciate our uniqueness as a nation better.

This reason was a welcomed one given the experience of Biafra War.

Clearly, NYSC has not changed our skewed view of one another in the country but why do we still  make youth service corp a mandatory service for Nigerian graduates?

Who is benefitting from this program in today’s Nigeria?

Most of the graduates regardless of field of study would end up teaching with zero knowledge of teaching.

For example a Biochemistry graduate posted to a secondary school is thrown into the job from day one.

Brief perspective;

In Nigeria, we have 74 federal/state universities.

47 approved private universities. The ‘approved’ there signifies we have handfuls of others still operating without the government official approval. The unapproved operating tertiary institutions means their students are moved to an approved schools during the final years.

Also, another important thing to note here is that most of the 47 private universities in Nigeria are owned by the religious leaders and politicians.

Most children of primary and secondary school age attend private schools. The trend started aggressively in the 1990s and has gone way beyond any logic.

Private schools in Nigeria is not like any other nations – we have at least about 100 different grades of private schools, some of which no child should be sent to – it is in every street, some are as big as a decent living room.

Also, we have a handful that are as expensive as any private schools in the West if not more. This is where the selected few send their children for primary school education before being wheeled abroad for boarding.

And the different range in the middle is very wide – No defined guide by the government, pocket size largely dictates the type of education received.

Now on the Otondo (Corpers):

The government had spent enormous amount of money over the last four decades on this program i.e 3 weeks training, the facilities and the uniform, and continuing to do so given increasing population.

Youth corpers literally overlapping at their place of primary assignment (PPA) nowadays. Sometimes, the PPA would reject giving ‘no vacancy’ as the reason so the said graduate would have to look for someplace else that would accept.

Nigeria government currently pays 19,800k naira/month for each corper. Not less than a third of these are teaching/working at private companies set up by religious leaders and politicians – Free and imposed employees every year.

In essence, we go round the circle.

And there is the case of ghost Corpers – these guys received their certificate of completion and all the benefits such as the monthly stipend but would not spend a day at the place of primary assignment. Their official certificate issued after ‘wetting the floor’ of the government officials.

At the end of the one year service, there is absolutely no guarantee of getting a job that could pay close to the stipend of the service year, many would be lucky to have any job at all.

Why do we still do NYSC?



Categories: Nigeria

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27 replies

  1. FK and all commentary thank you for the education and dialogue on the NYSC. I wonder if it is so hard for us to get along because of the post traumatic stress we are all feeling but have no time to deal with because we are all doing our bests to survive. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mike – no doubt about the PTSD, incredible how resilient people can be…you wonder how could anyone have heart to cheat the same people who have passed through so much.

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      • I think it is due to our resiliency that more s*** keeps being heaped on us. It’s like the myth of being strong……… as if strong people don’t need a break, a soft place to land when they become weary, over burdened and tired. As far as cheating is concerned, one has to first reconcile when they have cheated themselves and that revelation alone is enough to bring you to your knees and if you make it off the floor and have the second awakening of being robbed then that sends you into a rage and then you have to heal that and reckon and vow to yourself that first you will not dishonor yourself again!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mike, you hit lots of crucial areas here – the myth of being strong, the rage of having no soft landing, the cycle of cheating as if no better alternative existed to get ahead and the ‘one hat fits all’ healing process aka religious deliverance…

          Me saying we are resilient here is highly subjective given if one enters Nigeria today – the number of people whose brain are unable to cope with ‘all’ of these is staggering.

          Maybe we are just like other humans around the world yawned to air our dirty linen out so we can get on the right path…

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          • “That right there!”- as we say in the hood or as Marvin Gaye so righteously said,” make me wanna holla, they way they do my life!” And after all that my brother Pharoahe Monch words, “Still Standing” helps eases the soul that won’t be defeated by injustice!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry FK, I’m going to make my comments without reading through all the others. I tried but they were too many though what I gathered generally is it was good and could be better with you insisting it should be scrapped (please correct me if I’m wrong).

    Well, I did serve and in Anambra State, no re-deployment. Though the issue of security is making parents have a rethink. I’m thinking the peeps in charge should re-work the program to be more useful for everyone with the focus of not just educating students about their country but empowering them with adequate knowledge and resource to change the statusquo (governance, resource allocation and all those big grammar politicians speak to confuse us when they claim they want to help).

    We can look at other thriving systems and create or re-create ours to fit who we are. I don talk finish

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea, that’s about right only that I was not insisting that it should be scrapped per se. I guess my point was that if the purpose of NYSC was to unite us, then it has failed so why must we continue when we could adopt something less wasteful that might produce better result – I gave example of school exchange programs between our regions such as week long for secondary school students or 3/6 or 12 months long for university students such as intradepartmental collaborations and existing structures to be used for discount hostels for youths? Other nations do this even across their borders.

      Thank you for sharing your service experience, more of us need to do this. The big grammar guys wouldn’t get out of their way to do anything differently if people don’t speak up also, I hope our people can find better ways to speak up so the politicians or whoever in charge would listen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love your suggestions FK and they make market sense and like I said the comments were plenty so I couldn’t read through all.

        I just wish they would listen we would be better off. God, please give us listening and working leaders in all sectors. Amen

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I’m presently serving, so this is what I think.

    NYSC has some good in it, it is probably the only thing in Nigeria that forces you to experience Nigeria and Nigerians that you normally will not come in contact with. It’s a great opportunity to meet with people and really grow up.

    We still do NYSC because there are some places in Nigeria that can not get medical personnel and rely solely on corps members who are doctors, there are schools that can not pay teaching personnel and rely solely on corps members, the list goes on and on.

    There are ‘ghost corpers’ because for those people NYSC is simply a waste of time. There are many other things they could be doing. And NYSC staff allow it because an amount of the corps member’s allowance is paid to the staff.

    The Corps could be restructured to do things like: post the corps member to a primary assignment before he/she even leaves home, with this you can redeploy if you feel it’s a waste of time or not. Increase the allowance to what it should be. My dad served in the 70s and he says the Law was to pay corps members on the level below a graduate in the Civil Service, that’s a Level 6 I think. We get paid minimum wage now, which is not so much anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great to hear from you ideadibia especially given you are currently serving.

      If at least 50% Corpers could get a job earning your current stipend and above after finishing NYSC, that would have been a different story. As it stands today many people would not – we all see what happened with immigration recruitment.

      You gave a fantastic example re medical personnel – those ones would never in a million years solve our health problems in the country, some of them are useful, others are not and really people should never be allowed as ‘guinea pigs’ for ever especially with serious illness. Doctors in training need work experience, that is true but they can not be allowed to bear the responsibility of experienced doctors.

      I would love to see our President and his personnel all around the country trusting Trainee docs with their lives – that would save us lots of naira from Health tourism to India, Europe etc.

      Re health care, we need more hospitals built, and specialists salary competitive enough so they don’t see any reason for strike/leaving the country.

      I hear you re allowance increment, not entirely sure how that would work without everyone including the 80years old man/woman on NYSC payroll since 1973 requesting for an increase too…

      I liked the option of informing graduates of their PPA station ahead of time, people who wanted to go are free to and those who did not want to can be given a year worth of allowance as lump sum to be spent in a way that would enrich them as a person.

      Anyways, I think it is only by analysing the current situation could we come up with improved and acceptable situation…

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  4. One would be tempted to say NYSC has outlived its usefulness, but in my own opinion, we should not throw away the baby with the bath water, so we should look for ways to put the program back on track and also devise new improvements. The so-called employers are in most cases doing the government a favour because most of these youth corpers are clueless, unemployable and disrupt the smooth operation of the organizations they are posted to coupled with the fact that they have to be constantly replaced.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Naijamum for the insight.

      ‘Clueless, unemployable, disruption to organisational operation’ – These are all very valid given what I have experienced. They are all part of the symptoms of a failed education system which in my view, one year NYSC is incapable of reversing.

      We are talking about adults here, age range from 21 to 29 years old – so if majority of this age group are clueless in any nation – such a nation has bigger fish to fry – it all started from primary schools. I believe this is where the ‘moulding’ must start from.

      It is like eru amukun (k leg person carrying load on head) which can never be straightened at the top.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Why do we still do NYSC?

    It’s cheap labour for the benefitting PPA. And it’s a chance for Nigerian youths to familiarize with other ethnic groups and possibly reduce ethnocentrism by a considerable margin. Can’t say that’s working though.
    Personally I enjoyed my service year in a remote village. Really nice people, the Idomas in Benue state. My PPA didn’t prepare me for the work environment one bit though. It’s not a bad idea but it does need to be improved.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Uju for sharing your experience.

      I wish I could say something too but I was never smart enough for any of our universities so missed out on that experience 🙂 (hands on face).

      It is cheap/free labour for the PPA – I would have loved if the PPA were made to pay at least minimum wage across board, Corpers take the exercise more seriously and PPA will be obliged to provide necessary training before been thrown into the field.

      With internet, tv and social media, government can put money into better use of promoting tourism within the country – we need everyone to move about to appreciate our different ethnic groups not just those who ‘know books’ alone.

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  6. Why do we still do the NYSC?
    It is still the only viable policy that ATTEMPTS to make literate Nigerian youth know more about their country & its people. It is geared towards further uniting our youth. It works only at this level, everything else about it is not as beneficent to the youth.

    Loosely, the sort of internship arrangement of the jobs offers a brief learning opportunity for many graduates, the stipend paid is also a sort of unemployment benefit for just a single year, the postings offers employment opportunities for a few.

    It is a policy that needs vast improvements but certainly not discontinued.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Baba, I hear you. NYSC started when Nigeria really needed us to get along, and one way of doing this is through the program…Ok.

      Forty years later, there are easier ways of getting people around the country. Hotels are widely available now so people can visit without having to worry of where to stay.
      Also how about if the government incorporate day/overnight trips from say appropriate age in primary to secondary schools in curriculum. And of course a week long trip for university students to visit other parts of the country or even better, make it that certain number of students do their undergraduate papers on subject peculiar to certain areas…

      Why would any government pay unemployment benefits to able adults who are actually working for profitable companies?

      Some country do this for short term to lessen the unemployment figures but in Nigeria it is never ending and most of these companies were private, how is this any beneficial to the nation as a whole?

      The idea of internship for work experience is fantastic but the companies are not under any obligation to retain the Corpers, as they’d get another bunch knocking on the door shortly…here who is really benefiting?

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      • Mama, I hear you.
        The same reasons that necessitated the need for NYSC are still prevalent to this day, even more so now than ever. We still don’t get along and the only way we have managed to do so at the educated youth level is still through this program. That much can not be debated.

        There is no easier ways of ensuring people move around the country than the NYSC, not in an atmosphere of constant doubt. NYSC is mandatory, visiting Hotels and taking leisure trips is not the same. You thin Igbo parents will let their children live for close to a year in Sokoto of their own free will or the reverse? The government is doing beyond incorporating day/overnight trips for the most appropriate age and gone beyond mere secondary schools curriculum. A week long trip for university students to visit other parts of the country will never get the effect of a year long stay, working & living in a new community. How can you even compare? To maintain the program the government must pay these self styled ‘unemployment benefits to able bodied adults’ like it is the case in all internships, where persons work for profitable firms too. The idea of internships is principally for work experience and companies are not under any obligation to retain the interns anywhere! The fact that Nigerian firms are made or expected (as a civic duty) to take in another bunch soon afterwards is a positive thing and the coppers gain from this. Also exceptional coppers who are revealed through their brilliant work (Mostly in technical & science disciplines) get discovered in this way & retained, especially by private firms who seek the best mostly. This happens still. Like some western nation Nigeria is also doing this for a short term to target a reduction in unemployment figures but in Nigeria it is not getting the desired impact because of our corrupt practices, which is prevalent in the ordinary people as much as the leadership. Private people & firms, like civil service, only employ persons of their regional, tribal, ethnic, social or religious leanings. NYSC is still very beneficial to the nation, if the target is to remain whole as one entity.

        Agreed, lots of things don’t work here or don’t work well, but it doesn’t mean we discard them. NYSC need to be improved to reflect the challenges evident presently but not discarded.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yas, I like your commitment to the program. One thing must be said though, the safety of the corpers should be treated seriously. There was an account of one young lady from the South-South sent up to Borno/Yobe and was raped and killed and the body dumped, all because she “wore trousers”. Was anything ever done about it? I don’t think so.

          I laughed when you mentioned if any Igbo parent would send their offspring to Sokoto. It is a shame that Nigeria is still like that. Brazilians from one end of the country and go to any other part of their enormous country (many times the size of Nigeria) and feel perfectly safe. South Africans too, but in Nigeria things just don’t go right. You will say, that is the reason why NYSC should continue. My question is this, despite having NYSC, people are very distrustful of one another.

          In Ghana they don’t have NYSC, they do have a north – south divide, but yet they get along (relatively speaking), maybe Nigeria can learn from Ghana’s lesson of peaceful co-existence. My point is this, is NYSC the only mechanism that can foster a sense of unity?

          As for employment, the government should really play it’s role and not waste this opportunity to place people in positons which they will find useful.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you for emphasizing my point for me. I am with you all the way. NYSC need to be improved & other equally laudable scheme can be introduced to even replace it, if need be.
            If you go over my comment again, you notice I highlighted that the problem with our sense of unity still lingers, it as actually worsen. I don’t believe the government is entirely responsible for this, we (the everyday Nigerians) are just as responsible for this. Our orientation was never the best & trust is the rarest commodity in Nigeria, just as corruption is the most common. This goes for employment issues too. We just should look at the ‘Man in the Mirror’ more often.

            Liked by 1 person

            • The way I see it, people whose lives are affected by non-functioning policies should summoned courage to ‘moan’ about it in constructive ways, only then can we see improvement.

              Enough of ‘e go better’ when we clearly see nothing new is being done to make it better.

              Liked by 1 person

              • FK, thank you for your insightful contribution. Constructive criticism and equally as important some sort of official body that not only receives suggestions, but is responsible for examining the validity and appropriateness of it and acting upon it in a efficient, transparent and timely manner.

                Yas, thank you for noting my comment. Government is to blame no doubt, but as you mentioned about the “Man in the mirror ” thing, people are just as much to blame (but as FK has pointed out denial is always (nearly) readily embraced). The government are not divorced from the people. The antics and failures of government can be traced back to the electorate who allowed them to wriggle their way into office.

                Thank you to both of you.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Well said Ma, very well said.

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  7. I feel the concept of NYSC is a good one, but like many things in Nigeria it has been allowed ‘to go to the dogs’.

    One of my cousin’s, she qualified as a pharmacist (this was about 20 years ago), and was sent up to Kano from Rivers and worked in a hospital there. She talked of having to adjust to the local customs ie, covering her hair and her arms. (She dresses conservatively anyway.) The point of this example was to illustrate that corpers should be placed in fields as closely related to their profession for them to gain more benefit from it.

    You portrayed a widely divergent and varied educational experience. One of the roles of government is to establish guidelines and enforce them to have some means of uniformity and basic minimum standard. Given the swelling numbers of children this should be a priority to at least secure ‘the hope of a better future’. As things stand we will get more of the same, or with a drop in funding (due to increasing numbers) a decline. In today’s world where education is increasingly important, this can not be a wise move.

    There was a news clip on Al-Jazeera which touched upon the power sector in Nigeria, the British Foreign aid department summarised it as being ‘disorganised and corrupt’. This seems to be a recurring theme throughout Nigerian society be it official or unofficial. Education and NYSC appear share these characteristics.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The concept is a fantastic one, no doubt. As you know, Nigerians will talk about their knowledge of America or Europe but would not make a day trip to their next door state to see if media portrayal matches the local life, so it has helped a bit to build a bridge.

      Nigeria education sector from primary to tertiary institutions is all messed up. It started with the primary and secondary schools, now universities.

      Your cousin had experience what the program was originally set up for. Today it is ‘hit and mis’, you could be lucky to get posted to where you can put theory into practice, however, this is not the case for all Corpers given the increasing numbers of graduates.

      Actually being posted to the right industry today is another big business on its own, you pay your way to the right place.

      We all know the program is not working as intended but why do we continue to waste scarce resources on a failed program?

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  8. Beyond logic really ia an understatement for the ridiculous amount of private schools croping. In lagos alone, from my house to the end of the street, the number of “schools” there is absurd.
    I honestly don’t see how Nysc is helping anymore. There were rumors before that Nysc was going to be abolished. I guess they were only rumors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘Croping’ ‘mushrooming’ were the words in the early 2000s, now it plague… Well, the rumours about abolishing NYSC is a valid as Nigeria has stable electricity now… too many ‘big’ people are benefiting from the system so it will be there for a long time unless Nigerians are ready to share their stories and push for government to do their job the way that everyday benefit.

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