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Thursday, September 21, 2023

NYSC: What Next After Mandatory One-Year National Service?

In this special report, Transcontinental Times finds out from serving and ex-corps members about their plans before and after service.

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Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga
Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga
Hamzat Ibrahim Abaga is a graduate of Mass Communication and aspiring investigative journalist.

NIGERIA: Many people consider the subject of what comes next after the mandatory one-year national youth service to be rhetorical, but it is a vital and logical one that every well-informed Corps member should consider. Not thinking about what to do with 33,000 nairas received during the national youth service year is a sign of failure and shows that the person is not prepared for life after service.

It is extremely concerning that after their service year, teenagers fail to develop themselves and are seen roaming the streets looking for white-collar positions at ministries, agencies, and parastatals. 

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According to Statista, Nigeria’s unemployment rate in 2022 would be 33%, up from 32.5 percent in the previous years. Looking at historical data, the aforementioned statistics clearly show that unemployment in Nigeria has been steadily increasing.

For many youth corps members, the question of what and where they would be after the 33,000 nairas monthly allowance stopped coming was not a concern when the money was still coming.

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In this special report, Transcontinental Times finds out from serving and ex-corps members about their plans before and after service.

Usman Mariam, a native of Edo state and a member of the Nigerian Youth Corps stationed in Niger state in North-Central Nigeria, said she plans to save a portion of her monthly allowance for her fashion design company.

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Mariam also stated that conserving money is a waste of time and effort. 

The most important thing is to find a “white-collar” career and marry after the service year. After that, enroll in a Master’s Degree programme (MSc).

“I intended to start my fashion line with the savings I’m hoping to make from my allawee (allowance). See na wash o, the main thing na to find better work, and marry than go to MSc later. Abeg I no fit stress myself”.

However, Mariam pointed out that while ‘white-collar jobs’ are plentiful, every graduate must have a backup plan in place, other than acquiring a certificate degree, in case the ‘white-collar job’ is unavailable.

Mohammed Zainab, a corps member serving in Abuja and a Niger State native, said nothing more than to trade commerce, no matter how tiny it may be, and to save money.

Zainab, who intends to find a well-paying job after her service year, plans to invest more of her money in the future. 

“Well, I’m planning to start a business no matter how little the remit is, but if I’m opportune to get a job I will go for it first and use the fund to invest in a big business, Insha-Allah,” Zainab said.

As a result, Zainab recommends all corps members set goals for themselves to achieve after the service year.

Another current corps member in Niger state, Isah Bashir, says he intends to save a portion of his monthly allowance so that he can establish a small business after his service year.

Bashir, on the other hand, encourages all serving and aspiring government employees to avoid relying on government jobs since, as things stand now, working for the government is never a route out.

Ex-corps members’ response

Ex-corps member Leonard Onyenmechi Ogwezi, a Delta State native who served in Nasarawa State, described his service years as “amazing” and urged every corps member who has failed to plan for what comes next after their service year to relax a little and think about what path to take that will add value to their lives.

Ogwezi went on to say that individuals who are serious about finding a well-paying job should keep trying their luck by taking advantage of every opportunity they come across. Business-minded persons should always set aside a portion of their monthly income to start a profitable business, no matter how small.

“Well, ex-corper should just relax a bit by having a thought of what will eventually work for them If they are passionate about getting a quick job they should keep applying for it. And if it’s a business they are passionate about they should have a reserved fund to start, thereby looking out for business ideas that might be profitable in their location,” Ogwezi advised.

Another ex-corps member of Niger state who served in Kaduna state, Ahmad Muhammad Auwal said, “My service year was very interesting and funfilled.”

Auwal noted that during his service year he and some of his colleagues were into monthly contributions to save money for future use.

“Both ex and serving corps members should be able to save even if it is little. Also dedicating to becoming self-reliant is very important as there is a high traffic jam in the labor market,” Auwal said.

“So my golden advice to corp members is to save, no matter how little it is from the allowance given to them monthly, it helps a lot. They should pay attention and always avail themselves of various programs on skills acquisition to be employers of labor, thereby reducing graduates’ unemployment and contributing to the country’s economy”.

Adamu Abdullahi, a corps member who served in Imo state, advised corps members to search for job opportunities, apply for postgraduate programs, and start their own businesses. 

“To survive in a country like Nigeria someone needs to search for jobs adding a business mind is a poor decision. Had I combined the job search with searching for business ideas and capital, it could make the journey a bit faster,” Abdullahi said.

“You can search for jobs. You can obtain a postgraduate form. It’s possible to start your own business. And you can do the three at the same time or one after the other”.

Monthly allowance

33,000 naira is a monthly allowance received by every serving corps member in Nigeria throughout the one-year duration of his or her national assignment.

This fund is provided to the corps members by the federal government to serve as a form of motivation for the teaming graduates.

The corps members depend on the monthly allowance for their shelter, feeding, and other necessary things throughout their service year.

History of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC)

NYSC is a scheme developed by the then Nigeria military government in 1973 to engage Nigerian graduates in terms of nation-building and meaningful development of the country. The scheme, however, allowed graduates of universities and polytechnics to take part in the one-year compulsory program.

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