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COVID-19: Over 66,000 graduates may miss NYSC orientation camp



There is a growing concern that not less than 66,000 graduates of higher institutions of learning may miss the Orientation Camp of the National Youth Service (NYSC) if the decision by a government committee is approved.

The Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, recently called on the Federal Government (FG) to consider suspending and closing all NYSC orientation camps for two years because of the COVID-19 protocol which demands social distancing.

The report compiled by a team of ministers – Finance, Budget & National Planning, State, Budget and National Planning, Industry Trade & Investment, Labour and Employment, State, Petroleum Resources, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Group Managing Director, NNPC and permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office – Secretary is aimed at proffering changes in different sectors of the country’s economy post-COVID-19.

PRNigeria gathered that about 66,000 candidates who are due to be mobilized by the NYSC for the Batch A, Stream Two, orientation camp exercise will be affected, if the policy is accepted and implemented.

Meanwhile, the NYSC Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), has urged the Federal Government (FG) to have a rethink before it approves a proposal to suspend the orientation programme of the scheme.

The Foundation’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Ventim Bako, maintained that such action is fraught with ‘grave’ danger, which can affect the capacity of corps members at their various places of primary assignments (PPAs).

The NYSC Foundation provides information, organizes programmes and executes projects for the NYSC Scheme. Among other things, it also promotes the welfare of corps members, supports the activities of NYSC in various orientation camps, provides soft loans to corps members to boost their infant business ventures, and also expose them to better job opportunities.

Speaking with PRNigeria, Bako said the VP and members of the ESC must have offered the suggestion with the best of intention, which is to protect lives and also to contain COVID-19.

“However, within the context of the statutory mandate of NYSC and the activities that normally precede the deployment of corps members, we appeal to government to have a rethink about the proposal. This is simply because you cannot bring out fresh graduates from universities and polytechnics and just unleash them on the society for primary assignments.

“To deploy corps members to various places of PPAs without basic tools and the requisite training in an orientation exercise, is going to be a great disservice to the capacity of the corps members. This will certainly affect their capacity to deliver and perform efficiently,” the NYSC Foundation boss noted.

He also pointed out that the NYSC Director General, Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Shuaibu, has recently put in place a structure that encourages corps members in providing supports services in managing COVID-19.

“We have seen the contribution of corpers in managing the coronavirus through fabrication of tools, production of face-mask and sanitizers while medical corps members are actively engaged in hospital and medical facilities treating patients after their orientation training in the camps. There is no way the management of the Scheme will now allow its own corps members to become vulnerable to the pandemic or to the society.

Meanwhile, the management of the scheme had last week submitted a proposal and guideline on requirement for reopening the camps nationwide once the government gave the directive.

The proposal which was submitted to the director-general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Chikwe Ihekweazu in Abuja was part of the scheme’s preparedness for post-COVID-19 operations.

The proposal provides guidance and plan to create more orientation centres in the 36 States, while also staggering the Batches and Streams of camping activities.

The suspended 2020 Batch ‘A’ Stream One orientation course would be completed when the scheme received the green light from the of  the presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19.

FG has listed conditions for the reopening of schools and tertiary institutions in the country. The Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, announced the conditions in Abuja when he spoke at the 2020 Policy Meeting on Admissions to Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board [JAMB]

Nwajiuba said, “All Institutions must have (1) Hand-washing facilities, (2) Body temperature checks (3) Body disinfectants at all entering points to their major facilities including the gates, hostels, classes, offices, etc. (4) The whole premises of each institution must be decontaminated and (5) All efforts must be geared toward maintenance of the highest level of hygiene (6) Ensure Social and Physical Distancing in class sizes and meeting spaces.”

The minister, however, warned them against reopening schools without the Federal Government’s authorisation.

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