NYSC Trust Fund essential to accelerating national economic growth

Recently, the leadership of the National Youth Service Corps, under Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim, an associate professor of military history and a member of the Historical Society of Nigeria, had, in the line of duty, advocated the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps. Service Corps Trust Fund.

The trust fund is expected to, among other things, address the infrastructure deficits that beset the program, as well as provide seed capital to interested corps members to drive their business initiatives under the skills acquisition program and of entrepreneurship development, in addition to expanding the quality and scope of training.

It is trivial to rehash the entire philosophy behind the creation of the National Youth Service Corps, an interventionist agency that came as a child of necessity to hasten the healing of a nation just recovering from the throes of a needless civil war.

In nearly 49 years, the regime has remained a beacon of national unity – one of the purposes of its birth, as many inter-tribal marriages have been entered into, while a good number of former members of the corps have continued to settle after service in their respective communities and states of deployment, thereby promoting national unity and integration.

Fortunately, successive batches of corps members continued to leave indelible footprints in education, health, agriculture and national missions such as the conduct of general elections, census, vaccination, among others.

I hasten to say that education will fall into a coma in many states of the federation if corps member services are withdrawn from secondary schools. Similarly, in some rural communities, the corps doctors are the only doctors the rural people have ever known.

Undoubtedly, the centrality of the program in overall national development cannot be overemphasized, which requires comprehensive protection of this important national asset.

Indeed, one of the biggest achievements of the program in recent times is the prioritization of the skills acquisition program, with a department created to coordinate its activities.

It is undeniable that this program, which was well piloted and coordinated by the management of the NYSC, has become a real gateway to autonomy for the members of the body.

Interestingly, Bank of Industry, Central Bank of Nigeria, Access Bank, Unity Bank, NYSC Foundation, among others are collaborating with the program: providing start-up grants as well as loans to interested Corps members who meet the required criteria. to fund their businesses.

It is very encouraging to note that the skills acquisition program has become an integral part of the content of the NYSC orientation course. It includes both in-camp training and post-camp training. Clearly, so many of the corps members who got into the business are now business owners, employing other Nigerians, thereby contributing to the country’s gross domestic product.

However, the number of corps members who receive grants and loans from financial organizations as start-up capital is infinitesimal compared to the number of young people mobilized for service each year.

The proposed trust fund, which has gained momentum, while addressing infrastructure challenges, will provide seed capital to a wider range of corporate entrepreneurs to run their businesses.

NYSC enlists an average of 350,000 young people a year for mandatory one-year service; even though only 30 percent of them are funded by the Trust Fund each year, the multiplier effects the establishment of cottage industries by corps members will have on our economy cannot be overstated.

Undoubtedly, millions of Nigerians will be lifted out of poverty; with concomitant mitigating effects on youthful restlessness and other unhealthy practices.

Without fear of being contradicted, the NYSC has a stake in the march towards economic diversification, if it receives the required support from the government. Indeed, the NYSC Trust Fund holds so much hope for young people.

In conclusion, as the House of Representatives holds a public hearing on the Bill establishing the Trust Fund on Thursday, February 24, 2022, it behooves all stakeholders and patriotic Nigerians to rally support for the fund, given that it is a trust fund to not only empower youth, but also accelerate economic growth and diversification.

  • Emeka Mgbemena, NYSC Deputy Director (Press and Public Relations), writing from Abuja

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