Prof Osunbor, Corps Members drum support for NYSC Trust Fund

From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

Former Governor of Edo State, Prof Oserheimen Osunbor, serving corps members across the country and several other stakeholders on Thursday stormed House of Representatives to drum support for the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Trust Fund Bill during the Public Hearing held in Abuja.

Presenting his memorandum during the Public Hearing, the former Edo State governor supported the Bill urging the House of Representatives Committee on Youth Development to pay particular attention to the sourcing and utilisation of funds.

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According to him; “this Bill is commendable and I support its passage by the National Assembly. Nevertheless, I urge this Committee to pay particular attention to the sourcing and utilisation of funds part of which I have addressed.”

“This is to avoid the abuses that have been associated in recent times with Trust Funds by officials who see them as slush funds to feed their avarice. This calls for caution in order that the good intention behind this Bill is not defeated,” he said.

Reading further, he said: “the objectives of the Bill as set out in its title and Explanatory Memorandum are laudable and even long overdue. I support the Bill subject to a few observations and suggestions for its possible improvement. They are broadly in four areas: Sources of the Trust Fund, Establishment and Composition of the Board of Trustees for the Fund, Financial provisions-Funding and Editorial/Drafting including arrangement of clauses.”

Presenting the stand of the entire serving Corps members, Mary Jane Ezinne Okafor, serving in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) who representated them, said: “Corps members all over Nigeria are excited at the prospect of an NYSC Trust Fund. If not for protocol considerations, all of us would have converged on Abuja to voice out our support for this historic Bill.

“I stand here today to humbly inform this Honourable Committee and fellow Nigerians, that there are many reasons this Trust Fund is necessary at this time. But for want of time, I would like to draw your attention to some of the areas that we strongly believe the Fund will make enormous impacts, not only on the operations of NYSC, but also in guaranteeing a secure and prosperous future for us, the youth of Nigeria and, by extension, the entire nation.

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“The first is the provision of befitting Orientation Camps. The exponential rise in population of graduates mobilized for National Service annually is causing overstretch of facilities in Orientation Camps all over the country. We strongly believe the Trust Fund will go a long way in complementing the efforts of the government toward continuous expansion and upgrade of Orientation Camp facilities.

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“Another one is enhancing the functionality of the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme (SAED) which empowers Corps members for self-employment through vocational and entrepreneurship skills as well as linkages with sources of business financing.

“Majority of us desire to derive the utmost benefits from the programme. However, we are also aware that there are implementation challenges such as inadequate trainers and training materials. Another challenge is the limited funding opportunities as only a negligible percentage of trainees eventually access loans and grants.

“If the NYSC Trust Fund is actualized, it will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the entrepreneurship training, and virtually all trainees can access grants to enable us establish our own businesses. As some of our predecessors are already doing, we will all in turn employ more youths of the country, and they will be in millions, thereby contributing to the growth of the economy and helping to curb youth involvement in all forms of social vices.

“One critical area of our welfare needs is the provision of decent accommodation for all Corps members during the service year. If this Trust Fund is actualized, part of the proceeds can be used to provide adequate Corps Lodges in all nooks and crannies of the country. This will not only keep us secure, but also boost our morale and spur us to make even greater sacrifices and render better services to our fatherland.

“One of the things we do as members of the Service Corps is to add value to our host communities by way of initiating projects and services that will uplift their living standard. For instance, we have the NYSC Health Initiative for Rural Dwellers (HIRD), which is aimed at providing easier access to free and qualitative health care for Nigerians, especially in the rural areas.

“Medical outreaches conducted under this programme can only be sustained and made even more impactful if adequate logistics are provided. We strongly believe that with a Trust Fund in place, many more Mobile Clinics will be provided while other essential equipment, drugs and other medical consumables will be made available on a sustainable basis for the success of the programme,” she noted.

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