The compulsory youth service scheme was established by then head of state, Yakubu Gowon in the aftermath of the civil war in a bid to foster unity and patriotism. Since 1973, graduates have been required to take part in the National Youth Service Corps program for one year. In present day Nigeria however, the 43yr old scheme seems more like a very expensive albatross that has outlived its purpose.
In addition to the vast sums of money it gulps, it does not inspire patriotic fervour in the nation’s youth. After a year of enduring adverse conditions and abusive officials all in the name of ‘service to motherland’, the youth which constitute the bulk of the nation’s population get a first hand look at what it is really like “to serve our fatherland”.
Add to that the death toll, three already this year and the service year is not halfway yet. Corpers find themselves in the eye of political and religious conflicts and some don’t live to tell the tale. The political elite conveniently couch these deaths in the shell of martyrdom but these young people didn’t sign up to die. Corpers in Rivers state have taken matters into their hands and opted out of election duties, many more will opt out of the programme altogether if they could.
Maybe it’s time to wave this khaki comrade goodbye.
What do you say?