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- N57.1bn Annual Allowance Bill
- NYSC News Update
Recent hitches and inability of the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, under whose supervision the operations of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is quartered for the mobilisation of thousands of corps members are ominous signs of a weak economy and threat to the sustainability of the scheme.
Coming to public glare for the first time in its 43 years of establishment, management of the NYSC raised alarm twice in two months over inability to fulfill its obligations for the mobilisation of the 2016 Batch A stream II prospective corps members.
In the 2016 Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development budget, an appropriation of N75,476,387,061, the NYSC alone takes the largest share of N66,834,864,638 for personnel, overhead and capital expenditure.
Also, of the N66, 834,864,638 budgets for NYSC, N57, 664,987,306 is set aside for total personnel.
Indications that the NYSC was broke came to the fore in April as Brigadier-General Johnson Olawunmi, the immediate past Director-General had to make a public explanation to corps members over the inability of the scheme to pay 244,532 corps members’ on N19,800 allowance each for the month of March in April.
The DG in his appeal to corps members stated, “Please just exercise patience as this will be resolved in a couple of days. As at now, we are liaising vigorously with the Ministry so that fund is released to the CBN GIFMIS account and once it is done, it takes us just minutes through the online platform to remit straight to all the 244,532 Corps members in service.”
He added, “We are equally mounting pressure on the Ministry to ensure that the April allowance for 2015 Batch A and the outstanding one month allowance for Stream 2, Batch A 2015 is also paid as quickly as possible.”
About three weeks ago, the scheme shocked prospective corps members as it announced a postponement of the 2016 Batch ‘A’ Stream II orientation programme, which was earlier billed to start on Saturday 21st, May, 2016 indefinitely.
However, going by recent projections of Mrs. Rabi Jimeta, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Youth Development, during a brief session with President Muhammadu Buhari, she disclosed that the annual enrolment figure of corps members had increased from 2,364 at inception in 1973 to 229,016 in 2014.
She projected that the corps members in service whose number stood at 244,532 as at March 2016 could rise up to 300,000 by the year 2020 “given the increasing number of tertiary institutions.’
As at the last count in March, Nigeria has 40 federal, 40 states and 62 private universities bringing the total in the university categories to 142. In the polytechnic education sector, the country has 25 federal, 40 states, and 32 private polytechnics bringing the total to 97.
With each of the institutions contributing graduates for participation in the scheme, a sizeable number of Nigerian graduates in the Diaspora also travel home to take part in the compulsory national service.
Ms. Jimeta had informed the president that the increasing number of NYSC members was a challenge to the scheme due to dwindling revenue from the national budget to cater for their needs.
However, following rising number of institutions contributing young graduates for participation in the scheme, the immediate past Director General, Brig-Gen. Johnson Olawumi, stated that there are plans to make the scheme voluntary so as to reduce the corps population and sustain it.
However, considering the downward slide in the country’s economic fortunes, observers are of the view that the much talked about reforms of the scheme might come sooner than envisaged as a result of dwindling government resources to continue to fund the scheme.
It took a great effort by the immediate past Director-General of the scheme, Brigadier-General Johnson Olawumi to appeal to the corps members in service nationwide why their allowances for the month of March were not paid as at 18th of April.
Contrary to a possible reform, President Muhammadu Buhari, while receiving officials of the Federal Ministry of Youth Development, led by Jimeta in his office recently, pledged that his administration will take all necessary actions to maintain and improve the NYSC scheme as a functional vehicle for the promotion of national unity and integration.
The president affirmed his confidence and trust in the scheme, saying that the objective for which the scheme was established in 1973 was still very relevant for national development.
Reacting to the development, Femi Subair, an Ogun State based public accountant and auditor, called for an audit of corps members nationwide to determine the actual enrolment figures.
Subair in his words said, “I beg to disagree with the 244,532 figure as at March 2016. This is unbelievable and without experiential evidence.
“The Federal universities are the largest producers of graduates. This is followed by state universities and of course the private universities. Covenant University that is the number one in the private university sector graduated 1,315 for 2014/2015 academic session.
“For the same academic session, the University of Lagos that topped the federal university cadre graduated a total of 5,836, while the premier university of Ibadan for the same session graduated 2,362 in the first degree cadre.
He added, “We shouldn’t be lamenting over artificial challenges caused by men and women who are in authority. The top echelon of the scheme should be carefully scrutinised to fish out the perpetrators of the fake corps members’ syndrome.”
He argued that the bloated enrolment figure calls for a probe, saying that there were years where NYSC discovered some ghost corps members in an orientation camp somewhere in Abuja.
He queried further, “What is the population of Nigerian students in universities, polytechnics and institutes that mobilize graduates for participation in the scheme? If the global carrying capacity of the tertiary institutions that includes education at ordinary national level is less than 250, 000 where did NYSC and Federal Ministry of Youths, Sports Development came up with the staggering figure.”
When reminded that graduates of Nigerians origin in the Diaspora are also enlisted in the scheme, he posited that their number is insignificant and minute as the service year is principally dominated by locally trained graduates.
However, a statement credited to the NYSC management on Saturday, June 5, encouraged the prospective corps members to get prepared as they will be called soon.
“Based on the assurance received from the federal government regarding release of funds, the 2016 Batch ‘A’ (Stream II) orientation course will commence soon,” the statement read.
However, government has denied wild rumour making the rounds that it had scrapped the scheme.
The NYSC is an organization set up by the Nigerian government to involve Nigerian graduates in the development of the country. There is no military conscription in Nigeria, but since 1973 graduates of universities and later polytechnics have been required to take part in the programme for one year.
This is known as national service year. Ahmadu Ali served as the organisations’s first Director-General until 1975. The incumbent Director-General is Brig. Gen. Sule Kazaure.