For the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), 2013 could best be described as a redemptive year from the battered image sustained from the previous year (2012).
2013 kicked off on a turbulent note as antagonists of the scheme, in conjunction with some victims and relatives of the 2011 post-election violence in the North, renewed their call for the scrapping of the NYSC.
The serial bombing in some parts of the North was obviously complicating the issue for the NYSC, as some corps members, who were posted to the North, stood their ground against government, asking why they were posted to volatile states.
The scheme was battling with principle of equitable distribution of corps members across the federation, while the corps members were struggling for survival and protection of their future ambitions.
Although the service is essential, there is no gain saying that only the living serve their father land.
Those who had their share of violent attack by the dreaded Islamic sect, popularly known as Boko Haram, did not take the back bench in the struggle to kill the scheme.
The agitations put to test the managerial acumen of the leadership of the scheme under the former Director General, Brig-Gen. Okore-Affia.
Undeterred by the challenges, Okore-Affia focused on the implementation of some programmes the NYSC introduced in 2012 like martial art, entrepreneurship programme, and establishment of Distress Call Center to restore the confidence of all stakeholders.
The introduction of skill acquisition programme into the orientation course content, received double attention in 2013, to raise an army of entrepreneurs that will drive the economy and not job seekers that will trudge the streets in search of scarcely available jobs.
The projects designed to be implemented within the framework of camping exercise (in-camp) and the service year of the corps members (post-camp), cascaded down to states and LGAs.
The in-camp component of the project focused largely on creating the entrepreneurial and self-reliance spirit, helping corps members explore income generation opportunities available, with a view to identifying the one that best suits their personality/circumstances and professional training, some sort of hands-on training, as well as development of business plans.
While the post-camp component provided the platform for a more rigorous training of interested corps members, with a view to equipping them with the necessary technical/vocational skills, as well as business competence needed to start-up business; this would be carried out by various partner organizations with cognate competence and experience in the identified skills sets.
According to the scheme, there were about 10 skill sets, which cut across various sectors of the economy.
NYSC, in partnership with the Office of the Special Assistant to the President on Youth and Student Matters, in 2013, unveiled a model called the ‘Micro Enterprise Pack Model’, to address the issue of startup capital.
The issue of dressing code at the orientation camp also took a center stage last year when one Miss Damilola Ekundayo, a graduate of zoology from Lagos State University, was ejected from Sagamu Orientation Camp because she refused to wear the service kits including trousers.
The NYSC said Ekundayo’s action contravened the law regulating and prescribing the dress code for members of the scheme.
Ogun State Coordinator of NYSC, Mrs. Theresa Anosike, said Ekundayo’s refusal to wear the kits, including the khaki trousers at the camp and her insistence on putting on only skirts for the compulsory one-year programme, contradicted Section 3 subsection (h) of the scheme’s 2012 bye-laws.
She was reported to have been sent away around 7pm, without fair hearing, but the scheme debunked the claim, insisting that Ekundayo was first reprimanded and brought before a panel before she was ejected.
The Service also cleared the air on the reason it could not mobilize some graduates for 2013 Batch ‘A’ orientation exercise.