In a drop in the ocean gesture on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari offered employment to 110 ex-corps members in the Federal Civil Service and scholarships for the pursuit of post-graduate studies up to doctoral level in any university in Nigeria.
Nigeria has an estimated 14 millions unemployed youths, according to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Speaking at the virtual 2018/2019 President’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) honours award ceremony held at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja, President Buhari, also announced cash rewards for the ex- corps members.
He directed the relevant government agencies to ensure timely implementation of all the incentives for the award recipients.
Urging the honourees to sustain the patriotic zeal that earned them the award, the President said:
‘‘It is noteworthy that the young men and women being honoured have excelled in the four cardinal programmes of the Scheme, namely: Orientation Course, Primary Assignment, Community Development Service and Winding-up/Passing-out, which formed the basis of assessment for the Honours Award.
‘‘On behalf of the Government and the good people of Nigeria, I heartily congratulate those honoured on standing out from their peers in order to merit the honour being bestowed upon them.
‘‘You have proved yourselves worthy ambassadors of your respective families and the National Youth Service Corps. I am very proud of you and confident that the Award shall spur you to greater service to the Nation and humanity,’’ he said.
The President also used the occasion to commend the founding fathers of the 48-year-old scheme, notably General Yakubu Gowon, who joined the occasion virtually.
President Buhari stressed that NYSC has remained a bastion of national unity and integration by exposing our youth to diverse cultures and traditions, thereby making them appreciate our similarities and diversities.
‘‘Through the Scheme, walls of ethnic stereotypes are pulled down, and bridges of unity built, especially with enduring friendships and relationships resulting from healthy interactions during the service year.
‘‘This has strengthened the mileage covered in our quest to be a nation with one common vision and destiny despite our plurality,’’ he said.
On efforts to sanitise the mobilisation process of the Scheme, the President directed NYSC management to ensure that only those who meet the required criteria participate in the one-year national service.
President Buhari praised Nigerian youths on National Service for frontally confronting and remaining at the forefront of the war against COVID-19 pandemic.
The President noted that the inherent innovation and resilience of Nigerian youths, which members of the Service Corps demonstrated through the production of face masks, hand sanitizers, liquid soap, and several fabricated machines, contributed towards curtailing the spread of the pandemic.
‘‘The enormous contributions members of the Service Corps are making to the improvement of our education, health and social sectors as well as rural development remain a shining testament to the Scheme.
‘‘This has portrayed successive generations of Corps members as veritable agents of development,’’ he said.
Commending the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and NYSC for the dogged implementation of the self-reliance programme of government for the youths, the President urged them to sustain the tempo of their activities in this direction.
‘‘It is critical that our youths benefit from the N75b Nigeria Youth Investment Fund.
‘‘They should also be encouraged to key into other youth empowerment programmes of Government such as Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative, Youth Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture in Nigeria, Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme, and Young Farmers Scheme among others,’’ he said.
Declaring that his administration has abiding faith in the Nigerian youth, the finest part of which Corps members belong, the President said he had demonstrated this belief by signing the “Not too Young to Run” bill into law, so as to accommodate youth in the political landscape.
‘‘I wish to remind our youth, who have the greatest stake in the future of our country, Nigeria, and of course the generality of Nigerians to embrace our initiatives on value reorientation, as this is essential for the achievement of a country we shall all be proud to bequeath to future generations,’’ he said.
President Buhari also urged Nigerian youth to avoid all economic and social vices that are contrary to the wellbeing and progress of the country, admonishing them to adopt a collective approach, premised on sound values to build a great nation.
‘‘As young men and women, I recognize the extreme peer pressure you experience; it is my plea to you to be wary of those who would like to exploit your youth, intelligence and positive energy by channeling you into wrong paths.
‘‘Avoiding such acts honours not just your families who have sacrificed to see you attain greater heights, but also brings pride to your fellow citizens,’’ he said.
A highpoint at the combined Presidential Honours Award was the reading of citations of the best awardees for each service year.
For the 2018 set, Anyaogu Onyeyirichi Rejoice, who emerged first, served in Taraba State.
Anyaogu won the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS) Award for the Best Female Corps Member in Community Development.
Dr. Eze Sunday Victor, who served in Jigawa State, came first in the 2019 set while Odion Jessica Eseohen took the 2nd position in NCWS Award for Best Female Corps Member in Community Development.