How South-East youths championed NYSC formation – Prof Nwala

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A professor of philosophy and President of Alaig­bo Development Foun­dation (ADF), Prof Uzodinma Nwala, has traced the forma­tion of the National Youth Ser­vice Corps (NYSC) to the ef­forts of South East youths soon after the Nigerian Civil War in 1970.
Prof Nwala, in a compre­hensive report titled: “The ori­gins of the National Youth Ser­vice Corps and the making of a Nation: An Excursion into Ni­geria’s Social History,” he made available to The AUTHORITY, asserted that the NYSC was the brainchild of the East Central State Youth Volunteer Services Corps of 1970.
He said: “The immediate impulse that led to the estab­lishment of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Scheme in Nigeria in 1973 came from the youths themselves, par­ticularly those from the war-ravaged areas of the society, namely, what was then called the East Central State of Nige­ria.
“It was in this part of the country that the idea of a youth volunteer movement was con­ceived, nurtured and put into practice in the formation of the East Central State Youth Vol­unteer Service Corps (ECS-YVSC) in 1970.
“This was followed by a na­tional campaign for the estab­lishment of a National Youth Service Corps programme based on the experiences gained in the ECS-YVSC, and finally through a memorandum to that effect sent to the Fed­eral Government under Gen­eral Yakubu Gowon on Octo­ber 1, 1970.”
Prof Nwala said that in recognising the importance of such a scheme in the post-war era of “Reconstruction, Reha­bilitation and Reconciliation” programme of the then gov­ernment, Gowon gave the Asi­ka Government of East Central State a grant of £75,000 in ap­preciation of the initiative and achievements of the pioneers of ECS-YVSC, adding that the then military leader later set up the necessary machinery which culminated in the formal estab­lishment of the NYSC in 1973.
He, however, decried the continued non-recognition of the role played by the South East youths in the formation of the NYSC.
“Unfortunately, nowhere in the history of the NYSC is credit given to the youths of the former East Central State, the core zone of Alaigbo who pi­oneered what has come today to be recognised as a major in­strument for national integra­tion in Nigeria,” he said.
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