NYSC @ 50: A Heart Of Gratitude

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The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Scheme established on 22nd May, 1973 turned 50 and it has been a week of celebrations. Worth celebrating- YES, I will opine.

The scheme has come a long way, weathered the storms, survived the odds and has grown from mobilizing just over 2000 graduates in 1973 to over 300,000 youths annually for self–development and nation-building. NYSC has not only expanded in the number of graduates mobilized, but also in the variety of programmes and skills introduced to the Corps Members.

As the Global Stage grows and improves, the scheme has always added life-changing skills and pieces of training that make our youths globally competitive. Regularly in the works are intentional attempts to modify and expand on the embedded pieces of training and socio-economic development programmes carried out by the scheme. Programmes such as Information and Communications Technology [ICT] trainings, Skills acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development [SAED], Financial Education, Business Development, Volunteerism, Leadership and Nation Building have been progressively added to the Scheme’s training schedules.

In 50 years, 22 National Directors and Directors-General have headed the scheme, it is wise to say the scheme in particular and the Nation, in general, benefitted from their sacrificial services.

As helmsmen in the saddle, their primary concern is hinged on developing the educated Nigerian youth and securing the next generation, raising credible and patriotic leaders for our country. Gladys Stern observed, “Silent gratitude isn’t much good to anyone”.

That is so true. That’s why this piece is a salute to the founding father of NYSC, General Yakubu Gowon (GCFR), whose vision birthed the scheme and whose love has not waned a tiny dot and has been repeatedly demonstrated in the golden years.

Secondly, the Federal and State Governments deserve all accolades for ensuring that the scheme did not go under, rather, through commitment, funding and various expansion programmes, the youth scheme is recognised as the Government’s intentional programme designed to reconstruct and reconcile the Nation.

While appreciating all efforts from Governments, Corporate bodies, International Organizations and indeed all Nigerians, particularly parents, the scheme should be strengthened with solutions for credible modifications and support of the recent NYSC Trust Fund Bill awaiting assent from the Federal Government.

The third round of gratitude here goes to the past National Directors and Directors-General of the scheme who worked tirelessly to ensure progressive growth and development over the years.

Each leader came and added bricks to the solid foundation of their predecessors. The NYSC had leaders that many staff and corps members had access to and could therefore connect with and found in them authentic role models.

Men of repute in that mold include Col. A. Ali [Rtd], cheers to the leading builder. Within the first two decades came Col. S.K Omojokun, Col. P.K Obasa, Col. E.A Akpan, Col. A Braimoh and Major-General H.B Momoh.

In recent decades are Brig-Gen S.A Sofoluwe, Maj-Gen S.M Dule, Maj-Gen K.O Ogunkoya, Compol. S.I Emokaro, Rev. P.O Okunromade, Brig-Gen W. Oki, Brig-Gen Y. Bomoi, Brig-Gen M.I Tsiga, Brig-Gen N.T Okore-Affia, Maj-Gen J.B Olawumi, Maj-Gen S.Z Kazaure, Maj-Gen S Ibrahim.

Many and great thanks to you all for being important parts of the NYSC story.

The gratitude will be incomplete without a mention of the retired Directors of this noble scheme. Blessed leaders, solid selfless men and women of discipline. You were incredible bosses, consistent at teaching values, building relationships and setting leadership examples.

Warren Buffet said, “Much of what you become in life depends on whom you choose to admire and copy”. Many that followed in your footsteps have stories of growth and progress. At various times, you inspired the staff and youths you superintendent. There were dark moments and non-glowing periods no doubt, but, you trudged on. We value the insights and guidance you provided.

Mention must be made of great inspirers, firm and committed leaders in the recent decades and past years.

Golden claps to some of our bosses, Chief Enegwea Gregory Kas, Alhaji Bulama Mahmud, Alhaji Haliru Garba, Chief [Mrs] Akinlade Rita, Chief [Mrs] Lasaki F.A, Mrs. Imohe Philomena, Sir Obu Donatus Arinze, Mr. Ogunlade Johnson, Chief Onuoha S, Mr. Falase Kolawole, Dr. Abhuere John, Chief Ejoh Michael, and Alhaji Abba Tanko.

Also worthy of mention are Mrs. Babatunde Clara, Mrs. Midala Martha Sambo, Mr. Obi Emmanuel, Mrs. Adimorah Elizabeth Emetarom, Alhaji Obomeile Abdulwahab, Mr. Alonge Gabriel Ojo, Mr. Ochim Solomon, Mr. Arokoyo Augustine, Mrs. Kolajo Mercy Foluso, and Mrs. Erokwu Oby Agatha.

Aside from the above, Mrs. Obioha Glory Okuata, Mr. Ajayi Akinolu, Mr. Adeleke Ademola, Mr. Taura Aliyu Hudu, Chief Ani Anthony, Mr. Alabi Stephen, Mrs. Dan-Abia Mary, Mrs. Kwaki Kaka Rhoda, Alhaji Salisu Bashir Yakasai, Mrs. Aderibigbe Bose, and Mrs. Makinde Adetoun Comfort are also men and women of substance.

Recently retired Directors not mentioned by name are not left out of our appreciation and respect for their most valued contributions to the scheme.

Brig-Gen Y.D Ahmed, the incumbent Director-General, you are wished more transformational, insightful, credible, productive years in the saddle: a solid catalyst for the next golden years.

In summary, “Don’t just feel gratitude, tell someone”.

Happy 50th Anniversary to NYSC’s past and present members.

Adenike Adeyemi writes from Abuja

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