17th June, 2011
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday showered praises on the National Youth Service Corps members for their invaluable role in the last general elections in the country just as he paid glowing tribute to the 10 corps who lost their lives as a result of the post-election riots in the North.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Agege Orientation Camp of the NYSC, venue of the passing-out ceremony of Batch B 2010 Corps members posted to the state, also disagreed with calls in some quarters for the abolition of the programme saying, however, that there is need to review its contents.
Describing the abolition call as an overreaction, Governor Fashola declared, â€œI am of the view that the events that provoked the call can lead us to a better utilization of the programme,â€ adding that the relevance of the NYSC as a vehicle of social interaction and national unity is undebatable.
According to the Governor, â€œPart of the question we may ask is that: Can we improve our food production every year, if we commit all our graduates or majority of them to properly organized farm settlements every year?â€
â€œCan we improve on our internal security, if we use the programme to expose our graduates to a one year Military/Police training? Can we improve our healthcare and life expectancy if we subject all our graduates to nursing training and emergency rescue or life saving skills for one year?â€
Governor Fashola who said he was personally at the parade to thank all of the Corps members on behalf of himself and his partyâ€™s elected representatives for the work they did, declared, â€œYou and your colleagues across Nigeria gave this nation the semblance of a credible electoral process for the first time in her entire history. You have done more than delivering an electoral process that is acceptableâ€.
â€œToday, as you leave here with smiles and expectations, some of your colleagues will not be around to share those joyous moments. They do not deserve to be absent. They did everything that was expected of them to entitle them to be here. They went to schools, toiled and passed their exams and also enlisted to serve Nigeria under the NYSC. Their country also asked for more. She asked them to help in conducting elections which generations before them had failed to conduct successfullyâ€, Governor Fashola said.
â€œThey obliged and produced a credible voters register and, in spite of the challenges, they delivered elections that were adjudged to meet global standards. But instead of being rewarded, they were murdered. The country they serve could not protect themâ€, he lamented.
The Governor who acknowledged the sacrifice of the slain Corps members, said he drew a strong message from the incident which, according to him, â€œis that the best days of Nigeria lies ahead of us. They are not behind us. We should not stop serving our countryâ€.
â€œLet us be positive and be courageous. Let us see this beyond our democracy. We should all resolve that Nigeria is worth dying for so that she can be worth living in. your generation has succeeded where many generations have failed. You provided reliable voters register and delivered a credible election with very little preparation and against all the odds.
â€œCan you imagine what could happen if you had all the time to prepare, to lead and to show the way things are done in this country?. That is another reason why I am here; to tell you that nothing is impossible, if your mind can think of it, your hands can achieve itâ€, Governor Fashola said.
The Governor said the present administration in Lagos has exploded many myths about things that were once thought impossible, charging that as Corps members pass out, they must resolve to do something to ensure that they are not part of the countryâ€™s unemployment index.
â€œOur unemployment persists because our economy is not growing in the right areas. We require growth in innovation, agriculture, technology, technical areas and construction work which are areas that we have traditionally avoidedâ€, the Governor said.
While urging them to set their minds upon the listed areas, he emphasized that the State has built roads, schools, hospitals and other facilities that must be maintained adding, â€œSmall maintenance firms and partnerships formed by small groups of engineering graduates such as mechanical, civil, electrical, will be needed as development progresses just as there would be need for traffic lights and lane marking machines reproduced locally to manage traffic in Lagos Stateâ€.
Governor Fashola said more hands are still required to produce food in Lagos to feed its growing population just as the State and the country is still behind in its infrastructural needs which require more hands to build.
â€œWe will need needles, threads, buttons, zippers to clothe ourselves as a people. Let your imagination run and you will see how many more things we need which we need to produce which we do not produce. The onus is on you to either be an unemployed graduate or a graduate employerâ€, he also said.
The Governor explained that the government, in addition to giving jobs to people, is also increasing on initiating policies, projects and programmes that create opportunities for entrepreneurship listing some of the policies to include the Rice for Job Scheme which started with 165 farmers aged between 25 and 55 and which has grown the cultivation of rice in Lagos from 10 hectares to 170 hectares of farmlands in 2010 in addition to the creation of a value chain of over 2,000 people already employed under the scheme.
According to him, the Agric YES programme targets 1,000 farmers at the pilot stage while the first batch of 100 farmers have completed a six months intensive course which now gives them access to working capital and one hectare of land each to start out as young farmers while others are still in training.
â€œOur Lagos IGNITE programme has employed the first 507 graduates with a possibility of further expansion in other areas. We are also keeping those younger than you in our focus as well. Every year we employ not less than 5000 students on vacation jobs for eight weeks during the long holidays and will execute same this yearâ€, he explained.
Earlier, the State Coordinator of the NYSC, Mr. Ladipo Laniyan, had commended the State Governor for cutting short his official trip overseas to be present at the passing out parade for the 6,675 batch B 2010 Corps members.
Urging the passing out Corps members to continue to be law abiding citizens who should actualize the training that they have gained during the national service in their everyday life, the coordinator also assured the incoming batch and their parents that the NYSC will be mindful of their safety and security in their deployment for national service in the next dispensation.
He also passionately appealed to the State Governor to give a favourable consideration to the relocation of NYSC camp to Isiwu as the present location is no longer conducive for the activities of the Corps.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the NYSC in the State who is also Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Special Duties, Dr Aderemi Desalu, commended the high level of commitment displayed by the Corps members during the service year. He urged them to ensure that the interest of country is uppermost in their minds at all times.
Two Corps members, namely, Miss Okafor Lillian, a 26 years old holder of B. Tech in Geology and Mining from Federal University of Technology, Owerri and Miss Etemah Elileojo, a 27 year old graduate of the Delta State University with a B.Sc. in Geology who distinguished themselves in the service year were presented with State Honour Award.
Miss Okafor Lillian got the recognition for embarking upon a project to provide a school for a community in Ikorodu whom the children could not go to school once rain commences.
Miss Etemah Elileojo Laura was accorded recognition for organizing free voice training workshop with the theme: â€œBring out the talent in you for three schools in Surulere, namely, Atunrashe Secondary High School, St Joseph Senior High School and Government High School among other activities.
The ceremony which featured a parade by a detachment of the Corps members and cultural displays was attended by many dignitaries including heads of military and paramilitary formations in Lagos and senior officials of the NYSC.