President Muhammadu Buhari has granted automatic employment in the Federal Civil Service to 65 former National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, highlighting the 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 on Thursday, 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 recognised 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 level at any university they choose within the country.
Furthermore, he announced a cash prize of N250,000 for each of the top award winners and N200,000 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 Minister of Education to ensure adherence to the employment offer and the granting of scholarships.
President Buhari also used the occasion to pay tribute to corps members from the honoured batches, who lost their lives under various circumstances while serving the nation.
“But for their transitioning, some might have been here today as part of the honorees. 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 sympathised with the ex-corps members who sustained varying degrees of disability during the service year, acknowledging their significant sacrifices for the country’s progress and assuring them that the nation stands in solidarity with them.
“Your labour shall not be in vain,” he said.
President Buhari praised all Nigerians who have answered the call for national service in the past 50 years for their patriotic zeal and commitment to the NYSC mandate.
He emphasised 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 Gen Yakubu Gowon (retd), the founding father of the scheme, for conceiving the idea of the corps and bringing it to fruition on May 22, 1973.
“The NYSC has continued to afford successive batches of corps members a veritable platform to make meaningful contributions in the various spheres of our national life,” he said.
The President specifically commended the corps members for combating the COVID-19 pandemic by producing and distributing essential items such as face masks, hand sanitisers, and liquid soap and providing food and other relief materials to needy people nationwide.
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 enhanced the electoral system’s credibility.
Furthermore, President Buhari acknowledged the corps members’ contributions to the successful implementation of social intervention programme, such as N-Power and the School Feeding Programme, 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 well, and the nation is 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.
Recognising the crucial role of the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme 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 to promote youth-related activities and foster 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 recognised the support of the First Lady, Dr Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, who donated a well-equipped ambulance for the operation of the NYSC Mobile Clinic.
President Buhari 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 by establishing 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 to assist the scheme in achieving its time-tested objectives.