By Kofoworola Belo-Osagie
Corps members are not paid so much for the value they give, the Coordinator, Lagos State National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) , Mr. Eddy Megwa has said.
In an interview at the NYSC Iyana Ipaja camp last Saturday, Megwa told The Nation that corps members were contributing so much – especially in the health and education sectors – that their absence would be felt if the scheme was scrapped.
He said: “NYSC is delivering an exceptional service to this Nigeria since 1973. Look at the doctors, they are posted to areas indigenes find it difficult to work; rural health centres, that is where we post our doctors.
“Look at the educational sector, without NYSC, there is no how the educational institutions will stand. In most schools, corps are principals, head masters.
“I tell you what, this nation is enjoying so much via the services of these young ones. How much are they paying them? If you pull it out, the nation will find it difficult to fill the gap that they have been filling for now,” he said.
Megwa, who spoke after a colourful ceremony to mark the 48th anniversary of the scheme, said insecurity as a reason for scrapping the scheme was not enough as insecurity was rife in the society regardless of the NYSC. “Insecurity has been going on for years and we have had students being kidnapped from schools. Now, have we called for the institutions to be closed down permanently? No!”
Speaking on how the camp had been COVID-free, Megwa said the directorate took stringent measures to ensure the corps members, officials and visitors to the camp got tested before they are allowed in.
Of the over 2,000 corps members tested, Megwa said only one tested positive and was treated.
“She returned to camp 10 days later to join the activities after testing negative,” he said.
Saturday’s celebration, tagged the Unity Match, featured a parade by the corps members platoon by platoon. They displayed banners with messages of unity, including: “NYSC, a rallying point for cultural integration;’’ “Nation building is our mandate, we must strive to make Nigeria great;” “NYSC puts the nation first;” “In diversity we bond, in unity we stand”, among others. Some corps members also came out to talk about the achievements of the scheme.
Those interviewed by The Nation also defended the scheme.
Sulaiman Ibrahim, a graduate of the Lagos State University (LASU), said: “The scrapping of NYSC is not a good idea at all. NYSC should remain because it gives us the opportunity to move around. Some people have been staying in Lagos; they have never visited any other state. But because of the NYSC, they go to the north, south, east or west,” he said.
The programme ended with a carnival that had the corps members dressed in artistically designed tee-shirts on jeans.