Recently, the leadership of the National Youth Service Corps advocated the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps Trust Fund (NYSCTF).
The trust fund is expected to, among other things, address the infrastructure deficits that beset the program, as well as provide seed capital to interested corps members to carry out their business initiatives under the skills acquisition and development program. program entrepreneurship.
For nearly 49 years, the National Youth Service Corps has remained a beacon of national unity. Corps members continued to settle after service in their respective communities and deployed states, furthering national unity and integration.
Successive batches of corps members have gone on to leave indelible imprints in the fields of education, health, agriculture and some national assignments.
Undoubtedly, the centrality of the program in overall national development cannot be overemphasized, which requires full protection of this important national asset.
Indeed, one of the biggest achievements of the program in recent times is the prioritization of the skills acquisition program, with a department created to coordinate its activities.
It is undeniable that this program, which was well piloted and coordinated by the management of the NYSC, has become a real gateway to autonomy for the members of the corps.
Interestingly, Bank of Industry, Central Bank of Nigeria, Access Bank, Unity Bank, NYSC Foundation, among others, are collaborating with the program, offering start-up grants, as well as loans to interested corps members who meet the requirements. criteria for financing their businesses.
It is very encouraging to note that the skills acquisition program has become an integral part of the content of the NYSC orientation course. It includes both in-camp training and post-camp training. Clearly, so many of the corps members who got into the business are now business owners, employing other Nigerians and contributing to the country’s GDP.
However, the number of beneficiaries of scholarships and loans from financial organizations as start-up capital is infinitesimal compared to the number of young people mobilized each year for the service.
The proposed trust fund, which has gained momentum while addressing infrastructure challenges, will provide seed capital to a wider range of corporate entrepreneurs to spearhead their businesses.
NYSC engages an average of 350,000 young people a year for service; even if only 30 percent of them are funded by the trust fund each year, the multiplier effects that the establishment of cottage industries by corps members will have on our economy cannot be overstated.
Undoubtedly, millions of Nigerians will be lifted out of poverty; with a concomitant dampening effect on youthful restlessness and other unhealthy practices.
Undoubtedly, the NYSC has a stake in the march towards economic diversification, if it receives the required support from the government. Indeed, the NYSC Trust Fund holds so much hope for young people.
So, as the House of Representatives holds a public hearing on the bill to establish the trust fund, it is now incumbent upon all stakeholders and patriotic Nigerians to rally support for the fund, given that it This is a critical need that will not only empower young people, but also accelerate economic growth and diversification.
Emeka-Rems Mgbemena is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja