By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja granted automatic employment in the Federal Civil Service to 65 former members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), highlighting numerous achievements of the scheme since its establishment 50 years ago.
Speaking at the NYSC 50th Anniversary Honours Award held at the State House Conference Centre, the President said out of the 65 recipients, 52 individuals received the Presidential Honours Awards, while the remaining 13 were physically challenged ex-Corps Members recognized under the NYSC Hope Alive programme.
In addition to the employment, President Buhari also disclosed that both groups would be awarded scholarships to pursue their education up to the Doctorate Degree level at any university of their choice within the country.
Furthermore, he announced a cash prize of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira (N250,000.00) for each of the top award winners, and Two Hundred Thousand Naira (N200,000.00) for other award recipients, including the physically challenged ex-Corps members under the NYSC Hope Alive Programme.
Consequently, the President issued a directive to the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, the Federal Civil Service Commission, and the Honourable Minister of Education to ensure adherence to the employment offer and the granting of scholarships.
The President also paid tribute to Corps Members from the batches being honoured, who lost their lives under various circumstances while serving the nation.
‘‘But for their transitioning, some of them might have been here today as part of the honourees. May God grant their souls peaceful repose. They remain our heroes and heroines. The Nation shall continue to remember their sacrifices towards building a strong, indivisible and egalitarian entity,’’ he said.
The President also sympathized with the ex-Corps Members that sustained varying degrees of disability during the service year, acknowledging their significant sacrifices for the progress of the country and assuring them that the nation stands in solidarity with them.
‘‘Your labour shall not be in vain,’’ he said.
The President also congratulated the founding fathers, past and present managers of the NYSC on the Scheme’s Golden Jubilee, commending their enduring faith, which has maintained NYSC as a vital platform for mobilizing the youth towards national unity and development.
He praised all Nigerians who have answered the call for National Service in the past fifty years for their patriotic zeal and commitment to the NYSC mandate.
He emphasized that it has justified its establishment as an interventionist agency, with a core mandate to foster national unity across the country, thereby breaking down ethnic suspicions and divisions.
‘‘The multiplicity of marriages contracted over the years by Corps Members, cutting across the boundaries of ethnicity and religion in no small measure, justifies my assertion,’’ he said.
President Buhari also expressed his deep appreciation to General (Dr.) Yakubu Gowon, the founding father of the Scheme, who conceived the idea of the Corps and brought it to fruition on May 22, 1973.
‘‘The NYSC has continued to afford successive batches of Corps Members as the veritable platform to make meaningful contributions, in the various spheres of our national life,’’ he said.
The President specifically commended the Corps Members for their role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic by producing and distributing essential items such as face masks, hand sanitizers, liquid soap, and providing food and other relief materials to the needy people across the country.
He also applauded their discipline and neutrality when serving as ad hoc personnel for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), including during the 2023 General Elections, which contributed to enhancing the credibility of the electoral system.
The President acknowledged the Corps Members’ contributions to the successful implementation of Social Intervention Programme,s such as N-Power and the School Feeding program through beneficiary enumeration.
‘‘I hasten to state without equivocation that with the quality of youths such as these, the future of this country, which rests upon their shoulders, is guaranteed. I give kudos to my dear diligent, patriotic and virile youths. You have done very well; and the Nation is very proud of you.
‘‘The success story of the fifty-year-old noble Scheme will be incomplete without conspicuous mention of your outstanding contributions,’’ he said.
Recognizing the crucial role of the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development program in diversifying the national economy towards a more production-oriented model, President Buhari assured continued government support for youth initiatives.
He highlighted the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), with a budget of N75 billion, as an example of empowerment initiatives aimed at promoting youth-related activities and fostering a better Nigeria.
The President commended the NYSC Management for its efforts in revenue generation and encouraged them to sustain their commitment.
He also appreciated the Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers implemented by the NYSC and recognized the support of the First Lady, Dr. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, who donated a well-equipped ambulance for the operation of the NYSC Mobile Clinic.
He called on individuals and corporate bodies to emulate this gesture to enhance access to quality healthcare, especially in rural communities.
Regarding ongoing discussions on the need to reinvent the NYSC through the establishment of a Trust Fund, President Buhari said he has been ‘‘briefed adequately’’ on the matter and commended the Management for the initiative.
He pledged his support for any genuine effort aimed at assisting the Scheme in achieving its time-tested objectives.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, while commending the former corps members chosen for the Presidential Honour, said their sacrifices and commendable contributions, reflect the positive values they embodied during their service year.
“By distinguishing yourselves among hundreds of thousands of Corps members, you embody the nation’s pride and serve as a source of inspiration for other young people in Nigeria. Your strong sense of discipline, selflessness, dedication to work, exceptional community service, innovation, and leadership qualities enhance our hope for the country’s future. I am confident that this Award will motivate you to render even greater service to our homeland.
“To the current Corps Members and other young individuals, it is my sincere hope that you will emulate these awardees by embracing higher ideals of patriotism. In everything you do, always prioritize Nigeria and let it manifest through sacrifice and dedicated service to our beloved nation,” he said.
Dare listed the N75bn NYIF, the Presidential Youth Empowerment Scheme (P-YES), and the National Young Farmers’ Scheme (NYFS) as enduring legacies of the Buhari administration’s deep commitment to the well-being and development of Nigerian youth.
Also, he said the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development has actively pursued initiatives such as Digital Skills Acquisition, Employability, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership (DEEL), as well as the Work Experience Programme (WEP), among others, for the benefit of our youth.
According to him, the progress achieved through the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) program of NYSC is being consolidated by the current management.
He urged corps members and other young people to participate in these programs, which will enable them to become self-employed and contribute to the growth of the nation’s economy.