By Emmanuel Onwubiko
This writer will resist the near- irresistible temptation to sound scriptural because this piece is not about a Reverend Father in one corner of the world but about someone whose instruction from the President of his nation is to make significant changes towards positive direction for the 48 year old national institution known as the National Youth Service Corps scheme (NYSC)- Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim.
I spoke about resisting a temptation to sound like someone writing on theological matters because the title of this piece owes its etymology from a highly revered and venerated religious icon that commands the adulation and worship of billions of people around the globe.
However, looking at the title from a holistic perspective, the picture that emerges in our subconscious is the yearning by a leader for critical appraisal and assessment from his close lieutenants concerning the general views about his personal life and activities.
In the school of leadership, what contributes significantly to reaching success is the inclination by the leader to ascertain what exactly people think about him/her and the impacts made or being made as a result of the implementation of his/her tasks.
This is called FEEDBACK mechanism and even in the media industry, newspapers and broadcasting houses have space and time for their audiences to feed them back on their opinions concerning quality control or lack of it in the works of those media houses. In other words, media houses such as newspapers usually concede a page which they devote to people’s opinions and letters to the editor.
In this reflection we will do some contents analysis of what the media has in the last two years written about the person of the Director General of the National Youth Service Corps Major General Shu’aibu Ibrahim who just got elevated in his professional rank from his hitherto rank of Brigadier General to a Major General which in the military circles is regarded as a reward for excellence, merit and competence because military promotions are performance and merit based.
There is virtually no provision for Godfather influences to the best of my knowledge.
For the last two weeks that this gentleman of the military profession got elevated, there have been an outpouring of goodwill messages and praises from even unexpected quarters.
I said unexpected because it is generally known that prophets are almost always not respected and celebrated in their hometowns literally but in the case of the Director General of the NYSC Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim, it would seem that the general rule was suspended and his own people of Nasarawa State and his primary constituency the military have celebrated him and have made it abundantly clear that they are proud of the modest achievements he has made in the NYSC specifically and in virtually all of his career history.
From his primary constituency, the Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Major General IM Yusuf commended the NYSC Director-General, Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim for his giant strides in the Scheme.
He made the commendation today when he played host to the Director-General, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office.
Describing Ibrahim as a source of pride to the Nigerian Armed Forces, he remarked that his achievements in NYSC were consistent with the qualities of hard work, dedication, selflessness and dynamism, which he demonstrated in his previous appointments.
General Yusuf recalled the Director-General’s contributions to the success of the NDA, especially as Head of History and War Studies Department as well as TETFUND Desk Officer.
He noted Ibrahim’s leading roles in securing accreditation for courses of the History and War Studies Department, adding: “It was to his credit that NDA hosted a conference of the Historical Society of Nigeria for the first time,” he added.
He said his achievements in NYSC did not come as a surprise given his known standard of performance.
The Commandant congratulated Ibrahim on his promotion to the rank of Major General, describing it as well deserved.
He said the Academy would continue to support the Scheme, especially in the area of Corps Welfare.
Earlier, the Director-General, Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim, thanked the Commandant for the mentorship he enjoyed from him, describing him as a thoroughbred senior officer.
He expressed appreciation of the support NDA had been extending to NYSC, especially as one of the largest Corps employers.
Ibrahim particularly thanked the Commandant for prioritising the welfare of Corps members, including provision of accommodation and feeding for them while on transit.
He assured that the Corps Members would continue to put in their best in the service of the fatherland.
From his State, the Governor of Nasarawa State Abdullahi Sule described the recently promoted Director General of the National Youth Service Corps Major General Shu’aibu Ibrahim as a worthy ambassador of Nasarawa people for his strategic role in redefining the operations of the NYSC Scheme as a catalyst of development.
He said his achievements were testified by the Founding father of the NYSC General Yakubu Gowon and many State Governors who appreciated his impactful leadership in reinventing the NYSC and making it more relevant.
Sule, an Engineer was a Special Guest of Honour during the GRAND reception organised in honour of the NYSC DG for his elevation to the rank of a Major General in the Nigerian Army.
He paid glowing tribute to General Shu’aibu, and admitted that the DG worked hard to deserve his elevation especially in the area of empowering corps members through Skills acquisition and entrepreneurship development, reinvigoration of NYSC ventures and ensuring provision of a comprehensive documentation of NYSC activities and interventions in national development agenda.
“I’m a proud Governor because every state you go, the Governor will speak eloquently about the way you have redefined the Youth Service Corps in his state. You came , you saw and you have redefined the NYSC through many interventions which you mostly created ” the Governor stated.
Speaking further, Sule commended the new policy drive of the NYSC aimed at empowering corps members through
acquisition of skills for self-employment which he said is the best option out of the problem of unemployment for our teeming graduate youths .
In their separate goodwill messages, the Emir of Keffi Dr. Shehu Chindo Yamusa and House of Representatives member representing Nasarawa Toto Federal Constituency in Nasarawa State, Honourable Ari Mohammed Abdulmumini expressed delight at the unprecedented achievements recorded by General Shu’aibu which earned him successive promotions up to Major General especially his numerous accomplishments in the NYSC Scheme.
They both said Nasarawa state people are proud to be associated with his uncommon achievements and wish him more success in future.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development , represented by his Permanent Secretary Alh Isma’ila Abubakar commended the Director General for providing the required leadership which motivated staff to support him in achieving the successes recorded. He urged him not to relent in his efforts to further elevate the NYSC Scheme to greater heights.
In her remarks on behalf of NYSC Staff and Corps members nationwide, the Director, Information and Communication Technology, (ICT) Mrs Christy Uba enumerated the achievements of General Shu’aibu to include among others; optimum utilisation of the potentials of corps members, reinvigoration of NYSC Ventures and Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship (SAED) programme, enforcement of a credible mobilization process, documentation of NYSC activities , enhancement of staff and Corps welfare, provision of ICT Centre, proposed NYSC Radio among others.
Responding thereafter, General Shu’aibu thanked God for His grace in his successive elevation in the Military and appreciated the Governor of Nasarawa State, Community Leaders, Staff and Corps members for the uncommon honour.
The NYSC Director General expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for finding him worthy to be so appointed as the Chief Executive of the NYSC Scheme. He equally appreciated the Minister of Defence and Chief of Army Staff for believing in his capacity and their endorsement of his promotion to the rank of a Major General after earning a steady elevation in the last 28 years of his career.
The DG further stated that his principles in life is targeted towards touching lives and pledges to devote his life in furtherance of this philosophy.
“All I have achieved in life was as a result of prayers of those I have come across in the course of my life”, he stated.
He commended various stakeholders of the Scheme for their support and called on them to sustain their advocacy for the success of the proposed NYSC Trust Fund which aims at empowering youth Corps members and addressing infrastructural challenge of the Scheme.
The Director-General has also got direct commendation from his erstwhile department where he headed before he got appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to reorganise, reshape, reinvigorate the NYSC which he has so far made remarkable and appreciable evolutionary achievements.
As stated earlier, the Department of History and War Studies of the Nigerian Defence Academy had hosted the NYSC Director-General, Shuaibu Ibrahim, to a reception in celebration of his promotion to the rank of Major General.
Speaking on the occasion, the Head of Department, Associate Professor Victor Akran, expressed appreciation of the Director-General’s sustained passion for the Department and the entire NDA.
He recalled the various feats achieved by Ibrahim as Head of the Department, and expressed gratitude to him for remaining supportive.
The HOD congratulated the Director-General on his promotion and prayed God to continue to elevate him.
Responding, the Director-General reminisced on the cordial working relationship he enjoyed with all Staff of the Department noting that, that contributed to the successes recorded.
He thanked them for honouring him, and assured that the relationship would continue to be strengthened.
The Director-General also used the occasion to eulogize the NYSC family for giving him all the necessary support leading to his success as helmsman of the Scheme. Still from the academia came a plethora of commendations for the Director-General of NYSC.
The Management of Federal University Lokoja joined the league of eminent Nigerians to congratulate the NYSC Director-General on his elevation to the new rank of Major General in the Nigeran Army.
The Institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olayemi Akinwumi, who led a delegation from the institution to deliver the congratulatory message to Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim in his office in Abuja this past week, said the University is delighted to associate with the landmark achievements recorded by the DG since he assumed duty in NYSC.
He canvassed support for the continuity of the NYSC Scheme especially the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development programme, adding that SAED has empowered a large number of graduate youths to become self reliant.
The don, who relayed his service year experiences added that, “We are proud of what you and your team are doing. NYSC must be protected because it is for the unity of the country.”
In his response, the NYSC Director-General, Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim congratulated the Vice-Chancellor on his appointment and also lauded him for the congratulatory visit.
He added that NYSC has been interfacing with relevant institutions like the National Universities Commission (NUC), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), among others to inject more sanity into the mobilisation process of eligible graduates for national service.
Major General Ibrahim said there was the need to review the school curriculum and introduce Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development as it would expose students to vocational skills before they graduate.
He said the Scheme has partnered many institutions like the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Industry (BoI) Access Bank, Heritage Bank, Leventis Foundation and other agricultural institutions like NALDA and ARMTI towards training and empowerment of Corps Members that have passion for agriculture.
The DG added that efforts are on top gear for the establishment of NYSC Trust Fund which will make funds available to Corps Members to start their businesses as they exit service.
He said the proposed Trust Fund would also enable improved maintenance of Orientation Camp facilities and NYSC Skill Acquisition Centres across the country.
“We urge the Federal University Lokoja and other stakeholders to support us in youth empowerment”, the DG added.
During the visit, the Director-General led the University team on a tour of the NYSC Museum and NYSC Radio Studio, both at the National Directorate Headquarters Abuja.
In a similar development, the Abuja Zonal Head of TAJ Bank, Mellisa Adesina today led a delegation from the bank to congratulate Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim on his recent elevation.
She said the bank is working on a modality to partner NYSC on Entrepreneurship Training for Corps Members and also contribute its quota to national development.
General Ibrahim appreciated the bank and promised the Scheme’s readiness to improve SAED programme and reduce unemployment in the country. We will partner with you”, he said.
Around March 5, 2020 almost a full year before he got promoted, the DG made a remark to corpers that goes to define his passion for seeing that the youths are economically empowered to stand on their own after the mandatory one year national service.
General Shuaibu Ibrahim, had advised the outgoing corps members to embrace credit facilities to save the frustration of searching endlessly for scarce jobs.
This was contained in his farewell speech at the passing out parade of the 2019 Batch A corps members at the old parade ground in Abuja on Thursday.
Ibrahim saluted the patriotic spirit and commended the efforts of the corps members during their service year and also acknowledged that they have positively impacted the socio-economic well-being of the host communities.
“Indeed, Nigerians deeply appreciate your contributions to the national development process, especially in the areas of education, healthcare delivery, agriculture and infrastructure as well as the uncommon patriotism and diligence exhibited in the discharge of your responsibilities in your respective host communities,” he said.
The NYSC DG said the corps members exemplary selfless service rendered at the place of their primary assignment and community developments efforts are truly worthy of commendation.
“Your affinity to your host communities during your primary assignments should equally form the basis of life-long friendships, national unity and integration, which is the major reason for establishing the NYSC Scheme.
“My dear compatriots, the end of the service year represents an important period in the life of every Corps Member. It marks the end of a phase of dependence on the government, parents and guardians for upkeep. It is a period when those who have imbibed the lessons of the service year are ready to explore and conquer the wider world,” Ibrahim said.
He added that the passing out corps members have been adequately equipped for the future with their exposure to the realities of life during their national assignment.
“It is now time to apply the lessons learnt from the Skills Acquisition and Entrepreneurial Training to make the right decisions for your future.
“I admonish you also to shun negative tendencies and other social vices. Given your level of education and strengthened by the experience of the service year, you must remain focused, resolute and confident in your ability to earn a decent living from genuine and honest endeavours,” he said.
He, therefore, wished all the corps members safe journey to their various destinations and also implored them to be security conscious as they traveled.
“It is my fervent prayer that the Almighty God will continually guide and protect you. I wish you well in your future endeavours,” he concluded.
Have you now known who the people say the Director-General of NYSC is? Now here are snippets of some reasons for these praises.
Without any shadow of doubts, the DG of NYSC said the scheme remitted over N1 billion into the federation account between 2020 and 2021.
Ibrahim said the money was generated from different business initiatives established by the NYSC.
He told Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Tijjani Bande who paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja recently.
“…in an unprecedented feat, the Scheme remitted over one billion Naira generated as revenue from its various ventures to the federal account between 2020 and 2021,” he said in a statement issued by the scheme’s Deputy Director Press and Public Relations Emeka Mgbemena.
Findings show that the NYSC Ventures were created in 2012 as training and mentoring platforms for corps members interested in entrepreneurship development. Initiatives and funds generated through the ventures are expected to contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The Ventures Department also produces corps members’ kits and other supplies to orientation camps nationwide. They include NYSC Garment Factories located in Minna, Niger State; and Mgbaku, Anambra State.
The NYSC Rice Mill in Ezillo; NYSC Bakery and Water Factory, Kubwa, Abuja; NYSC Feed Mill in lpaja, Lagos State; NYSC Entertainment Company Limited, which comprises the NYSC National Band, NYSC National Troupe and the NYSC Movie, are all registered.
Also, there are also NYSC Farms in Kwali, FCT, and Saminaka, Kebbi State.
Meanwhile, in a bid to enhance credibility of the mobilisation process and safeguard the nation’s education system, the DG announced it held separate meetings with corps producing institutions based in some African countries, including relevant Nigerian regulatory and professional bodies.
Through public sensitisation, production and distribution of face masks, hand sanitisers and liquid soap, Ibrahim also identified some COVID-19 preventive intervention measures deployed by the corps members.
Other achievements listed by the DG were the completion of NYSC North-West and South-West zonal skill acquisition centres, the commencement of work on the centre for the North-Central; publication of nine books on the achievements of the scheme; the establishment of a museum; the process of establishing the NYSC Radio, and the construction of NYSC Printing Press in Kaduna State.
Earlier, Bande had applauded the scheme, describing it as a well-thought-out initiative for youth engagement in the nation.
He stressed that matters of youth development were central to the progress of any country, adding that Nigeria had, through the NYSC, demonstrated recognition of youths as critical assets.
The diplomat, who noted that the scheme had broadened the knowledge of youths about the country and instilled patriotic zeal in them, also expressed delight at its current focus on the empowerment of corps members for self-employment.
He commended Ibrahim for his achievements since taking office as chief executive of the scheme.
To answer the question, I think it is appropriate to say that people say the Director-General of NYSC Major General Shuaibu Ibrahim is a charismatic leader who has passion for building legacies that will make transformational changes in Nigeria and the World at large.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was National Commissioner at the Nigerian National Human Rights Commission.