Pro-democracy and Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, is demanding that the management of the National Youth Services Corps, NYSC, account for the N520m reduction of fund released by the Federal Government for Corps members in 2016.
The non-governmental organization, asked the management of NYSC to disclose if the huge sum was “pocketed or refunded,” to the coffers of the government.
The body explained that it was making the call because some “patriotic citizens approached us to help Nigerian youth find out the whereabouts of that cash given that the participants in the two streams of the NYSC last year felt short-changed” which was a result of the “inexplicable reduction in the number of statutory days for orientation camp last year.”
In a statement by its National Coordinator and National media Affairs Director, Emmanuel Onwubiko, Miss. Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA said: “we have it on good authority that in the year 2016 batch A/B orientations, the management of the NYSC reduced the orientation days from 21 days which is what was approved and bankrolled by the Federal government by 4 days.
“If you recalled that the management claimed that a total of 260,000 prospective participants were mobilized in the two streams last year and each corper collects a stipend of N500.So if you remove four days it means that N2000 should be the surplus from each participant for those 4 days meaning that if you compute the total by the number of corpers mobilized which officially stood at 260,000, in that case the Federal government ought to have been refunded the sum of N520 million. We were informed that there is likely to be no evidence of this refund and all efforts to verify this has been rebuffed. We have resolved to adopt the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT to officially approach the management of NYSC to furnish us with the evidence of refund or otherwise.
“Nigerians need to ask the relevant questions from the past and current management and the directorate of finance what they did with this whooping amount. As you know very well HURIWA has on numerous occasions rose to the Defence of NYSC and as a group with thousands of youth membership we will follow the due process of the law to demand accountability.
“There are several other claims and allegations brought to our attention but this aspect is critical because of the need to promote integrity in the administration of the NYSC scheme which is like a Leadership training platform for future Nigerian leaders”.
The body recalled that eight months ago, the spokesperson of NYSC, Mrs. Aderigbigbe was quoted in the media as saying,
“This year (2016) for instance, since the Federal Government does not want a situation where youths who are done with tertiary education hang out longer than necessary before having their chance to serve, we were given 260, 000 corps members to mobilize,” she told The Guardian.”
HURIWA also recalled that: “So far, we are left with about 70, 000. Once the present set leaves in October or thereabouts, this outstanding will be taken care of for the year. This is not a hopeless situation as people are made to believe.”
The body further recalled that the federal government funds the orientation camps even as Aderigbigbe was quoted as saying: “It should be noted that once the federal government gives us the figure to mobilize for a particular year, they back it up with funds to take care of that number.
“We are in need of a lot of funds to ease our operations, but we will continue to cry to the government until the situation improves.”
The pro-democracy group stated that it may be compelled to proceed further with, “advocacy activities” unless NYSC management provides it with “forensically verifiable evidence of refunds to the coffers of government” of the last year’s cash saved from the four days removed from the statutory 21 days orientation camps in 2016.