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“Ghosts in the National Youth Service scheme”
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“Ghosts in the National Youth Service scheme”

Nigeria’a  National Youth Service Corp is designed for graduates to serve the nation and provide an avenue to work in their disciplines toward the nation’s development, but Diyaulhaq Bin Usman, 24, a Correspondent from Funtua, Nigeria argues the scheme needs a review.

The one-year mandatory scheme  scheme has been in existence since 1975, when it was created by the government. The dual purpose of the scheme is to inculcate in Nigerian youths the spirit of selfless service to the community, and to emphasise the spirit of oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians, irrespective of cultural or social background.

These objectives are clearly spelt out in a 1993 Decree, which describes objectives such as to inculcate discipline by instilling a tradition of industry at work, and to develop in youths the attitudes of mind, acquired through shared experience and suitable training, that will make them more amenable to mobilisation in the national interest.

The above objectives of the scheme have to be reviewed, as some of the youths involved in this scheme have ceased to be self-disciplined in their respective places of primary assignments.

Here I mean some of these youths are more or less “ghost workers” in their places of work, as they only make their presence known when it is time for collection of the monthly clearance form from their employers.

Those enrolled in the youth corp receive a token of 19,800 naira monthly from the federal government. This is something the youths refer to as “allowee”. it is little due, to the economic recession in the country, but one cannot argue the fact that it is more money than some in the population have to feed themselves in a month.

Some of these ghost worker youths think they have little or nothing to offer, because they were posted to areas where they lack experience. Such placements, from my perception, are a necessity because ministries, departments and other parastatals have limited spaces to accommodate youths with their respective disciplines.

This is why the institution that receives the most youths in this scheme is the educational institution, where there is inadequate staff especially at the secondary school level.

The teaching profession is not a bad one because we all came out to be successful graduates through our teachers. We learned both educational and moral knowledge. This was why we were awarded degree in “learning and character”. Though teachers in our dear country are less regarded as elites, I fail to see the reason for such a view.

However, when it’s the time to contribute to our younger students through the National Service, the unfortunate obstacle is that some youth dislike and resist the assignment of being teachers. Some of the youths that are in schools barely enter their respective classes for lessons, rather they remain inside the staff room gossiping and arguing about things that concern them. This behaviour is uncalled for as far as the progress of the nation is concerned.

But even at that, some youths that are lucky enough to be with more coveted ministries or parastatals are ghost workers, as they spend their times in their respective lodge areas and not at their places of work.

We advocate the need for the government to look into the monthly allowance connected to the government National Service programme. There is still the need for dedication and perseverance towards carrying out our duties at our various work places.

Perhaps the problems with the National Service scheme are the genesis of the ghost workers reported in the civil service of the country, where people receive salaries for jobs they never did. Likewise, we hear of office files containing names of employees that have never set foot at the gate of their work places.

Nigeria cannot achieve development with these worms in our midst. Development can only ensue when we involve hardwork and self-sacrifice, when we are dedicated to our course, when we present ourselves at our various work places at the right time and day we are expected to work with the zeal and passion for the job, either as corp members or as permanent civil servants and not as ghosts.

The government now has the responsibility of ensuring that youth corp members appear at their places of assignment in order to prevent our future leaders from becoming ghost workers after employment. The government should devise means of checks to curtail these acts of insincerity and laziness in the part of corp members under the national youth service scheme.

Also, the government should enjoin all employees to make it a priority to engage their youth corp members with the required work under their mandate and to ensure that such corp members exercise their own share of the responsibility.

Photo credit: courtesy of Diyaulhaq bin Usman
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About me: My ambition is to be a hard-working successful development journalist, who strives to bringing attention to the developmental interests of youths and rural areas. ‎ I also want to become a journalist who will be known for voicing the voices of the voiceless in the society.

I am a graduate of the Mass Communication programme at the Bayero University Kano.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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