NYSC And National Integration

The essence, importance and centrality of national integration and enhacing the bonds of fraternity, mutual co-operation, peaceful co-existence and inter-communal communication and dialogue devoid of rancour or acrinomy cannot be over-emphasised in our fast evolving and dynamic epoch and quite a number of public policy experts, technocrats and opinion leaders have harped on this worthy theme at various fora, seminars and workshops with a view to throwing more light and informed dissection on these pivotal issues.
However, few experts have delved into the national integration saga with the same depth of analysis, intellectual rigour, thoroughness and reflecive sagacity as the Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa’s salient paper themed ‘‘NYSC: An Instrument for National Integration in Contemporary Times’’ delivered to an applauding audience of NYSC corps members at the 2014 Batch ‘C’ NYSC Orientation Course held at the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp, Keffi, Nasarawa State on 15 November, 2014.
Maikasuwa, in his insightful paper, traced the concept of national integration from it’s theoretical underpinnings to the practical and sometimes harsh realities on ground while navigating the concept of national service in several countries, the NYSC programme, its progress and achievements so far, the challenges it faces and thoughful recommendations on ways and means of taking the laudable programme to the next level.
According to him, ‘‘National integration can be defined as the process of promoting the values, relations and institutions that enable all people to participate in social, economic and political life on the basis of equality of rights and opportunity, equity and dignity. Also on a practical level, it is a truism that the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 did not necessarily emphasise integration. Rather it encouraged specialised regional production to meet the needs of the metropolitan economy (Britain).
As a federation, Nigeria is presently partitioned into states and citizens ought to be able to live in any of the states without feelings of inferiority. But a crisis of identity has culmulated into series of politico-economic and social unheavals across the country.
The consequences of these problems have manifested in conflicts across the country as witnessed among some communities such as the Urhobo and Itsekiri (Delta), Tiv and Junkun and Jukun/Kuteb (Taraba) the Ebira and Bassa (Nasarawa), the Hausa and Kaje/Kataf (Kaduna), Hausa/Birom/Angas (Plateau), Hausa/Igbo (Kano), the Timo/Waduku crisis of the Bachamas and Hausas (Adamawa) to mention but a few.
After recognising the practical reality of communal crises, tension and threats of instability/insurgency prevalent in many parts of the country, a perceptive Alhaji Maikasuwa then outlined the origin and scope of the NYSC programme while arguing that it is inherently pivotal for national integration, national unity, social stability and economic development for the programme to continue with well defined and articulated innovations designed to enhance its relevance and responsiveness.
Reflecting on similar youth service programmes in other countries, Maikasuwa posits that the NYSC programme has scored some socially worthwhile goals including, helping in removing some of the mutual suspicion that existed among various groups in Nigeria especially after the civil war; aiding in the economic integration of Nigeria, i.e. building economic bridges across the country; enabling the mainstreaming of the female populace into the national agenda as a total of 1, 131, 851 females were mobilised in 2013, an astronomical jump from the minimal 340 at the 1973/74 NYSC inception.

AISHA IBRAHIM (Leadership Newspaper)

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