A General, Nigerian Youths: Making the difference, by Shuaibu Ajani

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Brigadier-General Shuaibu Ibrahim, current and the 18th director-general of the 48-year-old National Youth Corps Scheme, NYSC, is a soldier, an officer, a gentleman and an academic with a deep interest in human capital development, research and resource management.

He is currently making a difference in the manner he runs things at the NYSC. He goes about this in a diligent manner he would call to the very depth of his rich academic background, to manage the human and material resources, mentor, nurture the abundant talent and skills, and help point the very best of Nigeria’s youths, to the greater and brighter prospects of their country.

Ibrahim was drafted from the Nigerian Army University, Biu, Borno State, where he served as the pioneer Registrar of the institution.

In a few days to come, the D-G would be two years in the saddle of the NYSC. And so far, it would be fair to note that he has demonstrated his total national view of the country as that of oneness; of a virile sovereign, powered by the energies of its youths, guided by the wisdom of its elders and directed by the vision of its leaders. He has been leading so very diligently to realise all this!

The NYSC was fundamentally founded on the higher national ideals of the Gowonic era, to become an active tool in helping emerging post-war Nigeria to reconcile, reconstruct and rebuild the socio-economically and politically broken country.

From all available data and obvious indications, this core institutional vision and mission still largely undergird the programme content, structure and institutional aspirations of the Scheme, to date.

This could be seen in the balanced and strategic approach to issues such as the posting of corps members and personnel; staffing, general operations, key project locations, etc. across Nigeria.

In going about the forgoing, the Scheme set for itself a 15-point objective. But permit me to cite two of them here for reasons of their apparent centrality and enduring relevance to our efforts at realizing one and united Nigeria, namely;

1.To enable Nigerian youths to acquire the spirit of self-reliance, by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment.

2.To remove prejudices, eliminate ignorance and confirm, at first hand, the many similarities among Nigerians of all ethnic groups.

These are lofty aspirations. Putting this into practice would require a careful application, in real terms, essentially because as a social aggregate of the Nigerian state itself, the NYSC carries all the genetic prospects and defects of our own polity, particularly with regard to managing our potentials, challenges and possibilities.

Multiple knowledgeable sources agreed that Ibrahim assumed the leadership of the NYSC during a most difficult time.

For example, he came in amidst instances of operational weaknesses, resource waste, system abuse and declined productivity.

But the man was sufficiently prepared for the job. He set about addressing the problems, with a sense of deep and broad understanding of the specific issues bordering on efforts to refocus the Scheme in a manner as to deliver on its statutory mandate.

Take the perennial case of the mobilisation of unqualified participants into the National Service.

His first move was to reach out and explore gate-keeping partnerships with registrars of regional educational institutions, especially in West Africa, and beyond.

This was ingenious because the creative approach paid off; and today, prospective corps members are thoroughly screened online, and in consultation with the various school authorities.

The consequence is that any unauthorized individual who shows up at any NYSC orientation grounds is promptly apprehended and handed over to the police for prosecution.

Regarding the problems of inadequate facilities at orientation camps, corps members’ safety, accommodation and sundry camp issues, across the country, the D-G had to confer with state governors, using the instrumentality of the Governors’ Forum. The outcome of this effort has been self-evident.

Ibrahim equally took prompt and positive measures towards corps members’ welfare, particularly pertaining to their allowances and general upkeep. In this case, the issue of N30,000 monthly minimum wage was resolved, with the inclusion corps members.

On the aspect of entrepreneurship skills development and acquisition, the current leadership of the NYSC has been remarkable.

Currently, many corps members are engaged in commercial agriculture, ICT, confectionary-making, etc, in the various camps, across Nigeria. And most of the skill training is done in partnership with reputable bodies like the International Labour Organisation, ILO, etc.

The recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic in the country was to put the corps members’ acquired skills to test when the D-G effectively mobilized them to produce non-pharmaceutical tools like sanitisers, gloves, masks, and to help provide care to members of the public.

Even as you read this, the NYSC leadership has been working with the relevant authorities and some strategic stakeholders, to ensure the establishment of the NYSC Youth Trust Fund, as proposed by the D-G.

Ibrahim’s professional military training and his broad exploits in the educational sphere, all make him a perfect fit in the task of continuing to propel the 48-year-old socio-educational organization that has produced incredible landmarks in our national quest for a united Nigeria and still going strong.

Ajani writes from Abuja and can be reached at shuaibuajani@gmail.com

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