• Facilitates N1.18bn facilities for corps members
• Empowers 500,000 in 10 years, sets up skill centres
Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) justified its proposal to set up a trust fund for all corps members nationwide, arguing that the fund, if eventually established, will help actualise President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of unemployment before the next decade.
NYSC, a scheme established in 1973 to promote national cohesion and integration, disclosed that it had trained over 500,000 corps members in different agro-allied, skill development and vocational programmes and facilitated N1.184 billion for those who applied in the last decade.
NYSC’s Director Special Duties, Alhaji Musa Abdullahi said this at a session with THISDAY at the weekend, revealed that no fewer corps members had trained and empowered under its Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED).
Explaining its centrality to the fight against poverty and unemployment, Abdullahi said the Director-General of NYSC, Brig.-Gen. Ibrahim Shuaibu had proposed the establishment to a Trust Fund as a strategy to help actualise Buhari’s vision of lifting 100 million out of poverty cycle.
Despite huge achievements the scheme had recorded under 48 years of its establishment, the NYSC had its diversified its approach from career advisory to entrepreneurship development with the high rate of poverty and unemployment nation.
Of the 25 NYSC secretariats that set up post-camp mini training centres nationwide, for instance, Abdullahi noted that the scheme was recording low patronage perhaps due to lack of training tools or lack of awareness among graduates.
Abdullahi explained the centrality of the ongoing establishment of Skills Acquisition Centre in all geo-political zones to raising an army of entrepreneurs, who he argued, would deploy their entrepreneurial potential for national development.
He, therefore, noted that it was on this ground that the NYSC had proposed to establish a trust fund to equip corps members with requisite skills they need for value addition and financially empower as they are completing their national services.
When established, according to NYSC’S director, the trust fund will also provide resources for the training and empowerment of corps members, especially on skill acquisition and entrepreneurship development. It is a strategy to end poverty as the president has envisaged to lift 100 million out of poverty by 2030.
Since its creation in 2012, NYSC’s director listed SAED’s achievements to include the establishment of a full-pledged department that would be saddled with the responsibility of streamlining the skills and entrepreneurial activities of the Corps members.
Under the Department of Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development, Abdullahi disclosed that it had received support from the Access Bank Plc to construct and equip a mega skills acquisition centre for in Gombe for the North-east states
Besides, according to the director, we are building a similar one in Jigawa for the Northwest states and in Nasarawa for the North-central states. The construction of the Southwest skill acquisition centre located in Ekiti State is already at completion stage.
Abdullahi disclosed ongoing collaboration with Unity Bank Plc, which according to him, focused on funding business plan development programmes for corps members.
He, also, disclosed successful partnership initiatives with such funding institutions as the Bank of Industry (BOI) and the CBN, which he said, would start-up capital for corps entrepreneurs.
To realise these plans, Abdullahi noted that General Electric and Cognity Advisory Nigeria, among others, had trained 40 SAED Officers on entrepreneurship
He explained that the SAED, which empowered corps members with the support of its partners, had helped set the corps members on the path to prosperity.
“In the process, more entrepreneurs have been created in the country. Since we started the SAED a decade ago, 20,000 trained corps members have been linked with various government agencies and non-governmental organisations.
“They have been able to access N1.184 billion credit facilities. At the end of the training, the corps members are given interest-free loans ranging from N200, 000 to N300, 000) to start their own businesses in their areas of choice or interests.”
Under the War against Poverty (WAP), an initiative designed to actualise President Muhammadu Buhari’s aspiration of lifting 100 million people in 10 years, the director explained that NYSC has been able to train and empower close to at least 500,000 corps members to be entrepreneurs and employers of labour rather than looking for jobs.
Abdullahi explained that the WAP initiative started primarily “as a career advisory unit. Since corps members were faced with numerous job opportunities or job offers, the unit was set up to help them make good decision.”
“In the early years of its establishment, corps members had difficulties in choosing where to work due to the numerous job offers they received even before the completion of their national service. This spurred the NYSC to establish a unit called Job Advisory and Counseling Unit (JAC),” he explained.
When the job opportunities began to dwindle due to the increasing population of graduates, the NYSC introduced various policies and collaborated with government and non-governmental agencies, which gave birth to SAED as a strategy to check the spiraling rate of unemployment in the federation.
He, therefore, noted that government agencies “have been very supportive of the scheme’s SAED. Office of the Special Adviser to the President on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), now Sustainable Development Goals, (SDGs) sponsored the WAP initiative, one of the programmes aimed at raising entrepreneurs.
“The WAP is usually organised to empower corps members with skill and startup loans to professionalize in agro-allied enterprises. It is in line with the vision of the NYSC to respond to current realities of unemployment by shifting the attention of the corps members from the unrealistic quest for white-collar jobs to that of becoming self-employed after their national service.
Specifically, Abdullahi said corps members “are empowered requisite skills in such agro-allied skills as animal husbandry snail breeding, bee keeping, fish farming, grass cutter farming, plantain/banana sucker multiplication and poultry farming.”
NYSC’s director said the NYSC had forged collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which had promoted the spirit of entrepreneurship and self-reliance since it commenced in 2008 with the training of 600 corps members annually.
Through collaboration with the CBN, according to Abdullahi, over 2000 corps members have been reached. We are sustaining partnership to ensure that at least 600 complete their national service with mindset to establish their businesses.
Abdullahi disclosed that the WAP had been used “to facilitate conduct of advanced entrepreneurial training of seven WAP entrepreneurs at Barry University, Miami, Florida.
Under the initiative, NYSC’s director disclosed that the National Economic Reconstruction Funds (NERF) gave the corps entrepreneurs credit facilities between N1.8 million and N3 million to expand their enterprises and employ more workers.
• Facilitates N1.18bn facilities for corps members