National Youth Service amendment bill passes second reading

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

A Bill that seeks to provide for free and compulsory acquisition of vocational skills by youth corps members in Nigeria has passed second reading in the Senate.

The Bill which is titled “A Bill for an Act to amend the National Youth Service Corps Act 2004″, seeks to equip corps members with entrepreneurial skills to enable them build sustainable and profitable businesses after their National Youth Service Year.

Sponsor of the Bill, Senator Stella Oduah in her lead debate, emphasised that the period of the NYSC is to prepare Nigerian youths to rediscover their passions, talents, and skills, and “not to dwell on their certificates as present day Nigeria certificate does not put food on one’s table, rather it is the skills and talents that do.”

According to the Bill, the NYSC service year will now be split into two, with the first part to be directed towards gaining experience in the work environment while the second part would be geared towards free and compulsory acquisition of vocational skills.

In his contribution to the debate, Senator Chukwuka Utazi argued that the amendment to the NYSC Act was already long overdue.

“We have to encourage these youths to be empowered with special skills outside their certificates from the tertiary institutions. CBN should also be mandated in the Bill to provide them with soft loans to do business based on their acquired skills,” he explained.

President of the Senate Dr. Bukola Saraki, in his remarks, urged his colleagues to remain committed to overhauling the NYSC that suit the present day Nigeria.

“When the NYSC was introduced, the focus was integration and strengthening of Nigeria’s unity but it is clear now that there is need to incorporate vocational skills acquisition to equip our young graduates for better service to the nation and to themselves. I thank Senator Stella Oduah for sponsoring this Bill,” Saraki said.

As per the amendment to the NYSC Act, the new Bill is seeking to insert a new section 5 to provide for a compulsory vocational training for corps members in the skills domain as outlined in the schedule to the Bill.

Other goals and benefits of the Bill include, securing the future of corps members through the acquisition of relevant skills for business success, learning in a conducive environment with state of the art teaching materials to maximise the service year.

It would also provide access to several funding windows towards starting or improving one’s business, and learning to develop a winning, investor ready business plan, among others.