THE National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) management recently said: “The N4000 is not just for printing call-up letters. It is for the entire package of online registration, which requires the deployment of IT hardware and software and personnel to orientation camps all over the country.”
Why would the Management of the NYSC place the burden or share its operational cost with prospective corps members who are being mobilised to serve their fatherland in the spirit of selfless youth service? Whatever the merit of digitalisation of collection of NYSC call-up letters as being proposed by authorities of the scheme, the plan to charge N4000 from the prospective corps members should be out of it.
There is no justification for attempting to transfer to corps members the burden of migrating from an analogue system to a digital process with over N74bn allocated to the scheme under the 2014 Appropriation Act. To be sure, out of over N74bn appropriated sum, a staggering amount of N74,025,169,201 was earmarked for recurrent expenditure and only N477,016,644 for capital expenditure; and when the former is further broken down, the sum of
N66,243,962,243 and N7,781,206,958 were for personnel and overhead cost respectively.
If the above budgetary provision is inadequate, the NYSC authorities must be bold enough to ask the government to fund its administrative, operational, and logistics requirements not clandestinely forcing corps members to subsidise its administration. Even if, over the years, the annual budgetary provisions for the Scheme was not sufficient to meet the growing population of prospective corps members and the logistics of its administration, there are more ingenious ways of raising additional resources than asking the corps members to part with money which may amount to paying to serve.
What happens to the fine suggestions that a youth development tax be levied on businesses, or channeling certain percentage of TETFUND resources to the Scheme, channeling back financial gains and other kind benefits from numerous contractual partnerships between the NYSC and businesses, and other public sector agencies such as INEC, CBN, MDGs, SMEDAN, etc? More so, the NYSC Foundation was supposed to help the scheme augment gaps in funding through mobilising private sector support and contributions from the out-going corps members. Nobody knows how much exactly has accrued to the foundation since its inception in 1998.
There is also the need to review the NYSC enabling act with the aim of making state governments live up to their expectations. Over the years, the states and local governments are the greatest beneficiaries of the scheme without much financial commitment. As such, the NYSC should approach the National Assembly to amend its enabling law particularly to compel the 36 state governments to substantially increase their annual statutory subventions from the extant ridiculous N500, 000 grants! About N50million each of the 36 state and the FCT is being tabled for legislative consideration. Indeed, the goal of fostering the culture of selfless youth service must be adequately funded by the government.
For us, it is a clear sign of ineffectiveness for certain government agencies to demand money from the citizenry to perform the most rudimentary of administrative task like the printing of the call-up letters. As such, asking prospective corps members to pay for collection of their call-up letters would amount to extortion.
Tunde Salman/Philip Irefin,
Centre for Policy Advocacy and Leadership Development (CPALD), Merit House, Abuja.
Culled from : Nigerian Tribune