By Adeola Adeyemo
The Lagos State National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) coordinator, Ladipo Laniyan, said that scrapping the scheme as advocated by some individuals would take the country 38 years backwards.
Mr Laniyan said this on Thursday in Lagos against calls by some individuals for government to scrap the NYSC scheme after the post-election violence that claimed the lives of 10 corps members in northern Nigeria.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria that rather than scrap the scheme, tiers of government should identify and tackle the issues that led to the incident.
“I believe that we are looking in the wrong direction by calling for the scrapping of the scheme which was put in place 38 years ago to achieve some set objectives.
“We should look critically into the remote and immediate causes of what triggered the violence rather than scrap the scheme,” he said.
Mr Laniyan said, however, that the fate of the scheme was a policy matter, adding that Nigerians have to trust the federal government to take an objective decision on the issue.
“The problem that gave rise to the violence that claimed the lives of those serving corps members was purely political and this has to be addressed once and for all.
A relevant programme
“It is sad how people want the NYSC, which has contributed to national integration and development, scrapped. It is undermining the achievements of the scheme over the years. People are entitled to their opinions but the fact that we have continued to have misunderstanding among the various ethnic groups in the country emphasises the relevance of the scheme,” he said.
Mr Laniyan said that the corps members’ contribution during the elections attracted accolades within and outside the country, adding that achieving a credible election had been the yearning of the masses.
He said it was the first time corps members were involved in a national assignment of such magnitude, which is a plus to the scheme.
“Nobody envisaged what happened that threw the entire nation, and indeed the NYSC family, into deep mourning. It is regrettable, but would you say that because such incident occurred we should scrap the scheme?” he queried.
According to Mr Laniyan, the country’s history is replete with riots and violence that started spontaneously and spread to other parts of the country for various reasons. Those riots, he said, also claimed the lives of innocent people.
“If you scrap the scheme because of what has just happened, how are you sure that the same thing would not happen again? I think government should look at ways of stemming the riots and killings, whether politically or religiously motivated,” he added.
The NYSC coordinator urged the government to re-examine and strengthen the security agencies. In his opinion, that would check the excesses of those who want to take the laws into their hands.
“I also think that government should consider introducing special trainings during NYSC orientation exercise as a form of self-defense to corps members to strengthen the scheme,” Mr Laniyan said.
Source: NEXT on May 16, 2011