Transformational leadership is a theory of leadership where a leader works with teams or followers beyond their immediate self-interests, to identify needed change, thus, creating a vision to guide the change through influence and inspiration, among others.
The 18th Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, Major General Shuaibu, assumed office on May 10, 2019, and wasted no time in rolling out a five-point agenda that gave the direction of his administration.
One of the critical issues he tackled on the assumption of office was bringing sanity to the NYSC mobilisation process, which hitherto suffered so much assault from unscrupulous officers in some Corps Producing Institutions, particularly those in the West Africa sub-region, who fraudulently forward names of unqualified people for mobilisation.
A meeting of the Registrars of the institutions in Abuja, held to get their buy-in towards sanitising the mobilisation process, led to sanctions of some of the unscrupulous officers, while some of the institutions implicated in the fraudulent practice were shut down by their respective governments. The internal cleansing mechanism put in place by the Scheme also saw the dismissal of some erring officers from service.
The DG also introduced screenings of foreign-trained prospective corps members, particularly those that graduated from universities in the West African sub-region, a move whose results several said has “been mind-boggling. Some of the supposed graduates parading bogus degree certificates, with second class upper division, could not write their names correctly, let alone make correct sentences during the screening exercise.” If those characters had not been detected many of them would have found their way to both the public and private sectors to debase the institutions.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the scheme ensured that willing corps members, prospective corps members, as well as staff members got vaccinated against the disease. Data generated on COVID-19 tests at the NYSC orientation camps helped the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in tracking the rate of infection in the country. Corps members were amongst the first set of Nigerians to produce liquid soap, sanitiser and facemasks, which were donated to Nigerians, free of charge.
The DG also established the NYSC National Troupe and revitalised the NYSC Musical Band. The first NYSC film, titled, A Call to Service, featuring some corps members and Nollywood stars, such as Pete Edochie, premiered last year. This introduced corps members with budding talents to the vast opportunities in the Nollywood industry which some embraced.
To get corps members involved in entrepreneurship and agriculture, the NYSC Farms were resuscitated: the rice farm in Kebbi State; cassava farm in Oyo State; maize farm in Bauchi State; cassava, rice and poultry farms in the Federal Capital Territory. Beniseed is also cultivated on the farm.
In 2021, some 52 acres of land allocated to the NYSC Secretariat Ebonyi as farmland by the Ebonyi State Government, which had been left uncultivated for many years, forcing the state to take back the land, were recovered. It is now a large rice farm, cultivated in partnership with the National Agricultural Land Development Authority. Plans are also at an advanced stage to secure land in Bayelsa State for cultivation.
The same applies to other NYSC ventures such as the water factory, bakery and garment industries, all of which have been revitalised and are operated by corps members under the supervision of relevant NYSC staff members. Recently, the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, commissioned another NYSC water factory in Keffi, as well as an NYSC garment factory, built in collaboration with the private sector. These ventures generate revenue which is paid into government coffers; to date, over N1 billion has been generated and paid into government coffers by the scheme. An ICT centre is also expected to be commissioned within the year.
Ibrahim, an outstanding historian and Associate Professor of Military History, edited and co-edited nine books, which cover NYSC and National Development; NYSC and National Integration; NYSC and COVID-19; NYSC and CDS; NYSC and National Elections among others. The books were unveiled in 2021. An NYSC museum named, NYSC Museum of Dynamic History, was also built in Abuja and it is the biggest museum in the Nigerian capital.
To give the scheme a strong voice in the media space, NYSC Radio and Television stations were established and commissioned in April 2022. The television transmits on TStv Channel 365 and the radio station on 88.3 FM.
In January 2022, NYSC mega printing press in Kaduna was commissioned. The press prints both for the scheme and outsiders at a competitive cost. It equally serves as training grounds for corps members who desire to go into the printing business at the end of service.
Capturing the transformation under Ibrahim in his three years as NYSC DG, which comes to an end in a few weeks, may be a fruitless effort at reciting an unending litany. But worthy of mention is his prioritising the welfare of corps members. A bill to establish the National Youth Service Corps Trust Fund has been passed at the National Assembly. The fund when established will not only address the infrastructural deficits of the scheme but will be a pool of funds to be advanced to willing corps members to pursue skill acquisition initiatives. It will also lift millions of Nigerians, especially youths, out of poverty.
Emeka-Rems Mgbemena of the National Youth Service Corps writes from Abuja
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