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Emmanuel Onwubiko: NYSC: Should we query President Buhari


“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

Two days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari in the exercise of his powers, authority and discretion as the sole appointing authority of heads of strategic government offices and agencies domiciled within the jurisdiction of the Federal government of Nigeria, effected a change in the hierarchical organogram of the most visible institutional capacity building and skills acquisition platform- the NATIONAL YOUTH SERVICE CORPS SCHEME (NYSC) hitherto efficiently and effectively led by the Nasarawa State’s born effervescent military two star General -: MAJOR GENERAL SHUAIBU IBRAHIM and replaced him with the Yobe State’s born Doctorate Degree Student of National War College who nonetheless is a senior military one Star General Brigadier-General Mohammed Fadah.

This generally unexpected change has come with it a nostalgic poser whether Government in Nigeria made up of politicians of varying degrees and characters generally are not patient enough to let Good people finish some or all of their good works before moving them to other areas for continuation of the gifted talents and acumen embellished with formidable innovative ideas? Is government not comfortable in letting good policies and initiatives for the benefit of the educated hoi-polloi or to use the most appropriate terminology- the youths, to mature and endure? Does government in this 21st century Nigeria satisfied with the status quo of the more you look the less you see or rather the barber’s chair syndrome of motion without movement? Is this decision appropriate and is it in the public interest? Is government willing to sustain this unprecedented and landmark achievements made by one of the finest discoveries in public service made by the current administration in the very person of the Nasarawa State’s born associate professor Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim? For us as citizens, we ought to ask questions for the overall benefits of the good people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but of course the President has his job to do and as we know the military institution is such a regimented institution that the members have this ideology of OBEYING THE LAST ORDER and OBEY WITHOUT COMPLAIN.

So do we query President Muhammadu Buhari on why he moved a good and terrific professional gentleman who loves all persons equally irrespective of tribes, religion or ideologically persuasions so long as the person is law abiding and patriotic-Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim for Brigadier General Mohammed Fadah who is a product of the highly respected military institution and in addition also he is a Doctorate student wearing one Star General’s rank of the prestigious Nigeria Army? Why did President not let Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim be there to manage the NYSC YOUTHS TRUST FUND that he and other egg heads worked round the clock to articulate and present to the Federal Government for implementation which till now has not been introduced? As we proceed we will see multiple other innovation that the immediate past DG of NYSC Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim introduced and are efficiently managed in compliance with global best practices.

However, should we wait and give the new man the benefits of the doubts since he has affirmed and promised publicly to drive to a successful end the many innovative ideas of his successor and professional colleague- General Shuaibu Ibrahim? I think our best decision is to say YES and give him the benefit of the doubts and to pray for him believing that like his other colleague he will always say to himself- YES I CAN.

The new Director-General, National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig.-Gen. Muhammad Fadah, has in the last 24 hours promised to sustain the vision of the founding fathers of the scheme.

He said this on Wednesday in Abuja, at the formal handing/taking over ceremony from the outgoing Director-General, Maj.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim.

Fadah said that national unity, peaceful cohesion and integration were the vision for which the scheme was created and that he would ensure that it was achieved to the letter.

According to him, the former D-G had created very huge shoes for him to fit in, but with the support of the management, I will fit them properly.

Fadah said, “We will maintain all the completed projects and ensure the completion of ongoing ones to a logical conclusion.

“Please, let us work as one family. You have supported Gen. Ibrahim, extend that kind of support and advice to me.

“Because I need your cooperation for us to make progress and build on what he has done.”

Fadah was appointed on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari as the 19th D-G of the scheme.

An indigene of Yobe state, he attended Sugum Primary School and Government Science Secondary School, both in Yobe.

Fadah also attended Kaduna Polytechnic where he obtained Higher National Diploma (HND), and the Lagos State University, where he obtained a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management.

He also attended the University of Ilorin, where he obtained a Master of Arts in Peace and Strategic Studies.

The new NYSC boss is presently studying for his PhD in Security and Strategic Studies at the National Defence Academy.

He has also participated in various military courses from Young Officers’ Course on Intelligence to Comprehensive Protection of Civilian Leadership Course.

Earlier in his handover speech, Ibrahim said that in his three years as the helmsman of the scheme, he enjoyed the full support and cooperation of both staff and stakeholders of the organization.

He said, “I am confident that the new D-G will consolidate on the gains of the past three years, especially through the multiplicity of partnerships with both government and Non-Governmental Organizations for national development.

“I would advise that you pay particular attention to the security and general welfare of youth corps members and staff, as well as make sustained advocacy for stakeholders’ support as part of your approaches to administration of the scheme.”

Also, during a farewell parade in his honor, Ibrahim called on Nigerians in diaspora to, upon completion of their qualifying academic programs, always return to the country for the mandatory service year to avoid contravening the law.

According to him, returning to observe the service year is a show of patriotism and a way of contributing their quota to the development of the country.

He commended other Nigerians in diaspora that have made themselves available for the National Service.

Ibrahim also expressed gratitude to staff and management of the NYSC for the loyalty, commitment and passion they demonstrated to actualize his vision for the scheme.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ibrahim assumed office as the 18th D-G of the scheme on May 10, 2019 as a Brig.-Gen. and was promoted to the rank of Maj.-Gen. in Dec. 2021. Are these the initial gragra as a new appointee or will he abide by his solemn pledge to maintain the high standards already set by his predecessor? We will wait for the next few weeks to be able to discern the best answers to our aforementioned posers but I think as a preliminary assertion, I think the new person will definitely want to put his name on World’s map like his immediate predecessor from the same military family and it is generally believed in the academia that dull brains do not embark on Doctorate Degree enterprise and since the new person is pursuing his Doctorate we can as well be hopeful that he might be a great guy. But the wait continues for few weeks and then we appraise his initial first steps in practical terms and not by what he has stated in those moments of conviviality during his inauguration. Here below are brief records of what the immediate past DG of NYSC MAJOR GENERAL SHUAIBU IBRAHIM achieved with phenomenal accuracy.

The landmark achievements of the director-general of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Maj. Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim have once more demonstrated the role of effective and transformational leadership in organizations, public or private. The Nigerian Army general and an academic as an associate professor of military history, assumed the position of director-general of the Scheme on 10 May 2019. Earlier to his appointment as the 18th DG of NYSC, he was the Registrar of the Nigerian Army University, Biu, Borno state.

The NYSC Scheme, since establishment on May 22, 1973, is one Nigerian Institution that has stayed the course and at the same time in great need of organizational renewal and redesign, and that is precisely what General Shuaibu Ibrahim has done for the Scheme. NYSC is being comprehensively overhauled and repositioned for the challenges of 21st Century Nigeria and now in a better position to discharge its core mandate through the implementation of the 5-Year Strategic Plan instituted by the foresighted general.

For emphasis, the NYSC Scheme has fifteen main objectives, and the numero uno is: inculcating discipline in Nigerian youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry at work, and of patriotic and loyal service to Nigeria in any situation they may find themselves. Another is: raising the moral tone of the Nigerian youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievement, social and cultural improvement; and another: developing in the Nigerian youths the attitudes of mind, acquired through shared experience and suitable training, which will make them more amenable to mobilization in the national interest. The fourth and fifth are about self-development and nation building: empowering Nigerian youths to acquire the spirit of self-reliance by helping them to develop skills for self-employment; and getting them to contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy. The rest of the objectives can be summed as inculcating in the Nigerian youths patriotic zeal, sense of unity and nationalism.

Traditionally, even the worst critics once calling for scrapping of the Scheme, would admit that, despite the formidable challenges, the NYSC has impacted greatly on the socio-economic development of Nigeria through its various programs. The impacts recorded by the Scheme are mostly seen and appreciated by well-meaning Nigerians in the real sectors of the nation’s economy, especially in education, health, agriculture and rural infrastructure as well as in corps members’ huge participation in the implementation of national programs such as elections, population census and mass sensitization of the rural populace, which have earned the Scheme a lot of accolades. The signature impacts of the Scheme have been escalated and modified, and new dimensions introduced by egghead director general.

When General Shuaibu Ibrahim took over the reins at the NYSC in 2019, he unveiled his 5-point policy thrust, which were: sustaining effective utilization of the potentials of Corps members for optimal benefits; pursuit a technology-driven organization to deepen effective service delivery; improving on the welfare and security of Corps members and Staff; strengthening existing collaboration with stakeholders; and reinvigorating the NYSC Ventures and Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Program (SAED) in line with the NYSC Act for greater impact.

General Shuiabu Ibrahim’s scorecard spans over thirty-six fundamental achievements, but only a few of them can be reviewed here for obvious reasons. Under him, new Permanent Orientation Camps have been set up in Edo and Bayelsa States and several existing ones have been upgraded with the aid of state governments. Part of the key component of both the new and the upgraded Permanent Orientation Camps is the ultra-modern skill acquisition equipment, which is part of the reinvigoration of the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development program of the Scheme that has also received a great boost.

Also reinvigorated is the NYSC Ventures, including the registration of a number of them already incorporated with the Corporate Affairs Commission. These include NYSC Garment Factory, Mgbakwu, Anambra State; NYSC Garment Factory, Minna, Niger State; NYSC Rice Mill, Ezillo, Ebonyi State; NYSC Bakery and Water Factory, Kubwa, Abuja; NYSC Feed Mill, Ipaja, Lagos; and the NYSC Entertainment Company Limited, which comprises the NYSC National Band, NYSC National Cultural Troupe and the NYSC Movie.

Under General Shuaibu Ibrahim the NYSC Ventures and the NYSC Integrated Online System and other revenue generation efforts have generated unprecedented over N1.2 billion remitted to the Federation Account within the last two years and another N761, 798,479.50 also remitted to the Federal Government as the revenue generated in the year 2021. This feat is pointing to the NYSC Scheme becoming financially sustainable and becoming a major revenue earner for the Federal Government.

One other area of interest is the enrolment of Corps members in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), a feat that has further elevated Corps Welfare. Funds have already been released by the Federal Government for its take-off.

One other major feat the NYSC Scheme has achieved under General Shuaibu Ibrahim should be the production of the first ever NYSC Movie with the title “A call to Service,” which premiered on 4th December, 2021 in Abuja. This will serve as a tool for sensitization of the public about the Scheme and give the prospective corps members the foretaste of the Scheme and get them psychologically prepared for service to the fatherland.

General Shuaibu Ibrahim also led the Scheme to establish the NYSC National Cultural Troupe to develop the talents of Corps members and also serve as a source of revenue generation for the Scheme. Also established is the NYSC Museum, which is domiciled in the NDHQ, Abuja, for effective preservation of the Scheme’s artifacts, including Corps members’ inventions and fabrications. There is also NYSC Bakery in Keffi and the NYSC Table Water Factory also constructed in Keffi, Nasarawa State and another in Kubwa, Abuja.

Perhaps quite revolutionary in this era of e-media and ICT-driven world is the establishment of a Radio station at the NDHQ as well as the approval that has been secured for the establishment of NYSC Television station by the hardworking transformational leader and scholar.

NYSC under General Shuaibu is about completing a state-of-the-art ICT Centre at the NYSC Headquarters and has also introduced a nationwide live broadcast by Corps members through the virtual platform.

General Shuaibu understands that in this era of e-media and ICT-driven world, corps members needed to be trained and retrained in ICT and tech to be able to benefit maximally from the unfolding 4th Industrial Revolution, which has already unraveled in many countries like China, India, and here in Africa; in Rwanda and Kenya. Shuaibu also wants to ensure fully equipped ICT Centres to optimize the digitization and digitalization process of the Scheme.

Apart from the NYSC Skill Acquisition Centres spread round the country, as part of its efforts to be self-sustaining, the NYSC Garment Factories are being established and that of Keffi, Nasarawa State, has already come on stream under his watch.

General Shuaibu Ibrahim has also led the NYSC to immortalize the “Bauchi Eleven,” who lost their lives during the post-election violence of 2011, through employment and scholarship for their siblings as well as employment for a sibling of Corps member Precious Owolabi, who was hit by a stray bullet during a religious crisis.

In appreciation, the Scheme has received commendations from the Presidency on the role of Corps Medical Personnel in the fight against COVID-19 in the Presidential Villa and a 4-Star Service Provider award by the SERVICOM National Office. In further recognition of the Scheme as a leading light of youth organizations in Africa, the Scheme was invited to send 10 (ten) Corps members to India to participate in that country’s 75th Independence Anniversary; and receipt of Award of Excellence from the Federal Ministry of Justice for the Scheme’s consistent implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.

General Shuaibu has been thinking out of the box on how to address the perennial paucity of funds drawing back the projects of the NYSC Scheme and came up with the NYSC Trust Fund. Apart from hosting one or two symposiums on its imperative, the proposed NYSC Trust Fund Bill has scaled through the second reading at the House of Representatives and stakeholders’ support for the establishment of the Fund is also gathering momentum.

With reinvigoration of the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) Program to train a greater number of youths, especially those that are not educated up to tertiary level, establishment of six (6) Garment Factories, one in each geo-political zone; expansion of Orientation Camps to 5,000 carrying capacity; establishment of arable farm settlements and animal husbandry in every geo-political zone to produce 50% of the initial food requirements at the Orientation Camps; establishment of NYSC Radio and the TV already approved, establishment of NYSC ICT centers round the country and with the NYSC Trust coming to power the Scheme, the present NYSC director general, General Shuaibu Ibrahim has indeed restored the NYSC Scheme to its lost glory and master image.

The Scheme is now fully reinvigorated, rebranded and repositioned to be able to carry out its salutary statutory responsibilities and help to push the country into being part of the 4th industrial revolution. The nation appreciates, and a united and developed Nigeria shall be your reward.

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was National Commissioner of the NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA. HE IS A PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST.

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