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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