Rights groups kick against scraping NYSC, threatens mass action

By Victor Habila

Rights groups, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), alongside its continental arm, Association of African Writers on Human and Peoples Rights (AFRIRIGHTS) has said the federal government must guide jealously the national cohesion attributes of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, scheme.

The groups, on Tuesday, noted that any plot to scrap the scheme would amount to sabotage, even as it counseled President Muhammadu Buhari to continue to sustain the ideal of the scheme without let or hindrance.

“President Muhammadu Buhari should jealously guide against any attempt from whatever quarters to tinker negatively with the National Youths Service Corp Scheme, NYSC.

“As far as most civil rights practitioners in Nigeria are concerned, this government has made remarkable milestones in the youth sector. The consistent strides made by President Buhari to sustain the only legacy that reminds us of our national unity which is the NYSC, have become a beacon of hope for generations yet unborn.

“On no account should any negative force be permitted to succeed in scuttling the NYSC. What we expect is for all hands to be on deck to consolidate on the gains made by NYSC and to strengthen its operational capacity,” a statement issued by Emmanuel Onwubiko, Executive Director of HURIWA, read in part.

HURIWA and AFRIRIGHTS jointly appealed to House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila and Senate President, Ahmed Lawan to throw away the reported proposal through a constitutional alteration bill to abolish the NYSC scheme as moved by a member of parliament.

The bodies argued that it is scandalous to “read that whereas committed statesmen are thinking of ways and means to upgrade the operational and funding capability of the pillar of unity which is the NYSC, the House of Representatives is said to be considering discontinuation of the National Youth Service Corps scheme.”

The rights groups said the sponsor, Awaji-Inombek Abiante, in the explanatory memorandum of the proposal, listed the various reasons the NYSC should be scrapped.

It read in part, “This bill seeks to repeal Section 315(5)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended) on the following grounds:
“Incessant killing of innocent corps members in some parts of the country due to banditry, religious extremism and ethnic violence; incessant kidnapping of innocent corps members across the country;

“Public and private agencies/departments are no longer recruiting able and qualified Nigerian youths, thus relying heavily on the availability of corps members who are not being well remunerated and get discarded with impunity at the end of their service year without any hope of being gainfully employed;

“Due to insecurity across the country, the National Youth Service Corps management now gives considerations to posting corps members to their geopolitical zone, thus defeating one of the objectives of setting up the service corps, i.e. developing common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.”

However, HURIWA has threatened mass action should this piece of legislation goes all the way to become law.

“We are very hopeful that both speaker of parliament and the Senate President are proud products of the noble NYSC scheme and should ensure that no stone is left unturned to stop forthwith the retrogressive march to infamy which is what the proposal to end the NYSC Scheme represents.”

It also added that “the tepid and laughable excuses of insecurity and allied circumstances adduced as collective raison d’être for contemplating such a national suicidal move of abolition of NYSC, does not hold water.”

HURIWA specifically applauded President Buhari and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and the Director General of NYSC “for keeping the flame of NYSC burning and meeting the objectives of the National Youth Service Corps scheme as are clearly spelt out in Decree No.51 of 16th June 1993.”

Source: Vanguard News Nigeria

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