Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Nigeria's Youth Service Corps

Those of us outside of Nigeria don't hear much about the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). Too bad, because it's one of the great ideas and programs for nation building in Nigeria.

Graduates of universities and polytechnics are required to serve for a year in a program that resembles a domestic version of the US Peace Corps.

During this national service year, "corpers" are assigned to work in areas far from their homes with people whose ethnicity, religion, and culture are quite different from their own.

During the last two presidential elections, "corpers" have worked for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to move election materials and man polling places.

NYSC and the 2015 Election
Against all negative predictions, the 2015 general election was conducted and concluded with relative peace. Central to the balloting was the strategic collaboration between the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). To the extent that the partnership turned out to be a huge success, these youth corps members who worked at the risk of their lives should be recognised as heroes and heroines of our democracy. And so should the NYSC management led by its Director General, Brigadier-General Johnson Olawunmi.

While 11 NYSC members were lost to the election crisis of 2011, safety of corps members was given primacy this time around and at the end, none was put in harm's way. Indeed, the sparingly-trained ad hoc staff demonstrated a high level of dedication to the system, and even where and when some logistic difficulties were encountered, they remained steadfast…

Olawunmi indeed directed senior staffers in the NYSC to go round the country to monitor the welfare of corps members before and during the electioneering period to avoid inducement from politicians or such conducts contrary to the electoral laws. The NYSC also collaborated actively with the election security committee…

At the end, all the efforts paid off with what is generally regarded as credible and relatively peaceful general election… we therefore commend the NYSC and INEC for the successful collaboration…

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