By Emmanuel Onwubiko.
First, his road to the office of the Director General was rough and inundated with bureaucratic tumbles going by the challenge erected by the senate of the federal republic of Nigeria which felt that the announcement of the Director General was to be made by the President and not by the chief of army staff going by the fact that extant enabling law made it so.
The National youth service corp’s Act of 2004 , laws of the federation of Nigeria in Section 5 States that “there shall be for the service corps a Director General who shall be appointed by the President.”
The Director General is the Chief executive and shall be charged with the General responsibility for matters affecting the day -to-day activities of the service corps.
He shall be assisted by the Directors at the head office and state coordinators.
So it took like a couple of days before the National Assembly smoothen the road for the office of Director General Of Nysc to be occupied by the newly appointed Boss just as the National Assembly affirmed that indeed there was no irregularity in the appointment of Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim whose appointment by the president was conveyed to him as disclosed in a media statement authorized by the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Yusuf Tukur Buratai.
Incidentally, the new head of NYSC is said to be a product of the education corp of the Nigerian Army and until his appointment was holding a prominent academic position in the nation’s military institution.
The statement appropriately disclosed that President Buhari approved the appointment of the pioneer Registrar of Nigerian Army University Biu, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim as the new Director General National Youths Service Corps (NYSC).
Brigadier-General Shuaibu Ibrahim replaced Major General Suleiman Kazaure who was on the saddle since April 18, 2016 as the NYSC Boss.
From available records, he was born on July 13, 1967, just as Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, a graduate of University of Jos has attended Nigerian Army Education Corps (NAEC) Young Officers’ Course 1994, Infantry (INF) Young Officers Course 1996, Training Development Advisers Course (TDA) 2004 and NAEC Officers’ Executive Management Course 5/2013.
He obtained Doctorate Degree (Phd) in History from the University of Abuja in 2007. His research area is reportedly centered on Economic and Military History as well as Intergroup Relations.
Some of the previous positions he held in the military included Research Officer, Institute of Army Education (IAE); Military Assistant to the Director General of NYSC 1996-1999; Staff Officer Military History, National Defence College (NDC) 2004 – 2009; Senior Instructor, Nigerian Army School of Education 2009 – 2011; Staff Officer I Books Resources Procurement, Headquarters Nigerian Army Education Corps 2011 – 2012; Commandant Command Secondary School Suleja 2012-2014; Head of Department, History and War Studies at the Nigerian Defence Academy Nigerian Defence Academy 2014-2018.
General Ibrahim is a Professional member of Historical Society of Nigeria (HSN), Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (MTRCN), Exam Ethics Marshal International (An Exam Ethics Marshal), Editorial Board, Ibom Journal of History, University of Uyo, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of History and Military Studies, Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
He has authored publications, chapters in reputable academic journals. From the above, it can be stated that the new boss of NYSC has come well prepared.
Socrates, one of the greatest philosophers the World has seen was behind the wise saying that “ an unexamined life is not worth living because the first step in every endeavor is the most important” and on his own part, a contemporary scholar makwell Droke was credited with the saying that “In every field of endeavor those who put their hearts in their work are the real leaders”. Then Tucitus capped it up by also affirming thus: “Reason and Judgment are the qualities of a leader.”
Realizing that this latest position is that of a National call to duty to meticulously implement enduring policies and carry out ennobling projects that will become enviable legacies that will outlive him, the newly appointed helmsman of Nysc has set out to do his job with vigour just as the charismatic sound bites from hin since assuming office may be pointing towards what the nation should be expecting from his tenure in office. He sounds more like an activist director general than a person who will be comfortable operating in the business-as-usual laissez faire approach to duty as many would. He is seen as someone who would prioritize the welfare of corpers and that of the staff.
He began by throwing strong warnings to the tertiary institutions that contributes scholars to participate in the national youth service by highlighting the fact that some of these institutions have sent unqualified candidates to partake in the scheme.
It must be stated that our tertiary institutions do not operate in the same wave length like how Universities in Germany do.
“One way of training for your future occupations in Germany is by pursuing a dual vocational training programme. Such programmes offer plenty of opportunity for the On-the-job training and work experience. Programmes usually last between two and three years and comprise theoretical as well as practical elements”, (www.make-it-in-germany.com). In Nigeria, the National Universities Commission would need to ensure that Universities incorporate these sorts of vocational empowerment programme that is done in Germany.
The absence of these sorts of skills building and capacity upgrading programmes in Nigerian Universities have left many of the graduates deficient in what it takes to make in the job markets soon after graduating and doing the compulsory year long national youth service.
Little wonder that Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim , warned tertiary institutions in the country against enrolling unqualified graduates in the scheme .
The DG said the NYSC would blacklist any higher institution found to be involved in fraudulent mobilisation of unqualified graduates in order to serve as a deterrent to others.
The timing for this strong warning is relevant because NYSC is preparing to mobilise its Batch B prospective corps members by this June amid reports from the Ministry of Finance that the monthly allowance paid to the members had been increased to N 30, 000, which is also the new minimum wage.
But the NYSC boss while addressing Data Entry Officers from tertiary institutions and Deployment and Relocation Officers from NYSC state at a workshop held in Abuja, warned that unqualified graduates should not be enrolled in the forthcoming mobilisation .
He said: “Corps- producing institutions are warned not to enroll unqualified graduates into the mobilisation process of the scheme . I advise all of you, participants, not to fall into the temptation of unscrupulous elements that may want to truncate the mobilisation process. The NYSC will blacklist any corps – producing institution that is involved in fraudulent mobilisation of unqualified graduates in order to serve as a deterrent to others . As leaders, do the right thing . Let us maintain good integrity and check your data correctly . ”
In another breathe, be verbally demonstrated his will power to be a charismatic leader by even pledging to make the supreme sacrifice should the need arise.
The new Director General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig. Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, said he is ready to sacrifice his life to ensure that no corps member dies during the service year.
Ibrahim said this during a visit to the staff and corps members at the NYSC Zonal Office in Akure, Ondo State.
The NYSC’s boss who said he was happy to be in the state, told corps members to keep themselves abreast of what was happening in their environment and be security conscious.
Ibrahim urged the corps members to take the opportunity of the entrepreneurial programmes put in place by the scheme rather than embarking on frivolous travels.
“I will prefer to die than losing a corps member. Keep yourself abreast of what is happening in your country, and make a difference as a corps member.
“I want to rejig our skills acquisition programme. If you take it seriously, we have partners that are ready to lend you money. I am very passionate about the scheme and my corps members.
“I came for a youth programme; so, I decided to visit you my ‘children.’. What will you be remembered for when you leave this place? Try as much as possible to keep your records clean,” he said.
Ibrahim, on the sidelines of the event, described his visit as unofficial, saying, he would look for a way by which the scheme would not depend solely on government funds.
The newly appointed boss of NYSC has come at a time of great distress witnessed by millions of Nigerian youth who are bombarded by the twin social evils of youth unemployment and the growing rate of suicide.
His leadership of NYSC is therefore expected to think outside the normal official routine but to endeavor to embark on meaningful ventures such as intensifying the ongoing entrepreneural and vocational skills training of the participants and by so doing the rate of self employment would rise even as the rapid rate of suicide by the youth would be brought down dramatically.
A United States -based Brooking institution had recently in a well researched paper raised alarm on youth unemployment in Nigeria. This coincided with the sudden upsurge in suicide by youngsters in Nigeria.
The Brookings report says: “…Deficient school curricula and poor teacher training have contributed to the failure of educational institutions to provide their students the appropriate skills to make them employable.”
It argues that since schools in rural areas are generally more deficient in infrastructure, teaching facilities and teacher quality than schools in urban areas, this may help account for the high growth in rural unemployed youth.
In fact, it recalls that some experts suggest that the major jump in rural youth unemployment in 2011 could be due to the mass failure in national examinations conducted among final-year secondary school students in 2010, which made many of them unemployable in 2011.
In addition to these supply factors, there is a lack of vibrant industries to absorb competent graduates, the researchers observed.
This obstacle it says, was in part caused by an infrastructural deficit and a debilitating structural adjustment program (SAP) implemented by Nigeria in the 1980s, which led to the closure of many industries and from which the country is yet to fully recover.
They said it is also well-known that the youth unemployment situation has been aggravated by flawed and inconsistent public policies on employment.
They proffered a panacea by affirming that the structural changes needed involve taking a comprehensive approach to employment issues in general.
This could be done in a way that not only targets youth, but which also looks at educational, training and labor market issues so that dynamic and progressive policy interventions are initiated to address all issues comprehensively, they asserted.
“Demand-side factors need to be considered: A final consideration is to ask whether indeed a policy stance actually addresses factors that limit the demand for labor. Recently, public policy has encouraged youth to undertake entrepreneurship, which can make them create employment for themselves and also become employers of labor.”
However, the researchers say in the long-run, the industrial sector must also expand to create opportunities for youth.
Industrial expansion must be based on available local resources in agriculture and solid mineral exploitation as well as value chain activities in those two sectors,they asserted.
The development of infrastructure, particularly electricity, will provide the necessary boost to any meaningful approach towards expanding industrial production space and creating employment for millions of job seekers, especially Nigerian youth,they stressed.
“For example, the petroleum industry that has dominated Nigeria’s external trade since the 1970s failed to provide employment opportunities for the people, given the technical knowhow required in the industry and so has not been helpful in solving the problem of youth unemployment. What is required (and which is now being considered) is to open up the petroleum downstream industries and train young people to provide services that are required at this level—activities such as welding, pipeline maintenance, security and other services.”
“Alas, these public policy programs have had a mixed impact on youth unemployment. While a number of intervention programs did address critical needs, others failed to address the needs of youth as a specific group. The management and administrative oversight of the programs has been weak and sometimes problematic, perhaps because of multiple authorities (federal, state and local government agencies) managing the programs. Some have been known to expend more money than is necessary or at least failed to justify the amount of public money devoted to such programs”, (www.brookings.edu).
This lacuna as shown above is precisely where the new Director General of NYSC should use as a yardstick to invest substantially in the implementation of the entrepreneurial training of the youth which fortunately the NYSC is already implementing and for which the new NYSC’S boss promised to expand and reinvigorate.
This is critical so as to not only address the issues of youth unemployment and crime, but could resolve the unprecedented rate of suicide by youths due to unemployment.
The new Director General of NYSC can achieve all these if given the needed institutional support by government because as Napoleon Bonaparte said: “A leader is a dealer in hope”.
This writer will therefore urge the new head of NYSC to understudy the successes of the entrepreneurial and vocational training components of Universities in Germany with a view to infusing relevant aspects into the soon to be reinvigorated vocational and entrepreneurial scheme in the NYSC. May i also commend the President for consistently funding the NYSC and may i urhe him not to relemt but to even consolidate and expand on the funding mechanisms of the Nysc just as the new team in NYSC seems to be exploring avenues of revenue generations.