NYSC collaborating to eradicate Coronavirus

The National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) has rolled its arsenals, personnel and facilities towards curbing the spread of Corona virus in the country as JOHN OBA writes. 
Corona virus otherwise known as COVID-19 is an infectious disease that affects the lungs with resultant coughing, fever and shortness of breath. It is a pandemic currently ravaging countries across the world. In Nigeria, almost all states of the federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have announced various measures including stay-at- home order to effectively check the spread of the virus.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in its daily updates on the pandemic confirmed that about 300 people have been infected by the virus; more than 33 recovered after receiving treatment and five died as a result of the disease. The figures keep increasing as reflected in the number of confirmed cases across states and the FCT.
NYSC stepping inIn view of the alarming rate in which the virus keeps spreading globally and in Nigeria in particular, the management of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), in its determination to effectively contribute towards national effort at stemming the tide promptly complied with the presidential directive by releasing its facilities in the various orientation camps  nationwide to serve as isolation centres for COVID-19. The scheme  made adequate arrangements and provided relevant facilities that would enhance effective utilisation of the camps for the treatment of citizens confirmed to have been infected with the virus.

Already, in line with the cardinal objectives of the scheme, corps medical personnel across states of the federation and FCT Abuja do not only engage themselves in various activities in hospitals designated for this purpose, they also get involved in organised enlightenment campaigns through radio, television and other online media platforms to sensitise Nigerians on the adverse effects of the disease and the need to adhere to safety measures outlined by relevant health bodies to stem the tides of  the pandemic. Corps members became the vanguards advocating for the sit-at- home order considered most effective tool for checking the spread of the virus.
The NYSC scheme and it corps members have since inception contributed immensely to the development agenda of the nation. It has continued to satisfy the needs of the nation at the grassroots, state and national levels; meeting vital manpower requirements and the overall objective of various health and other critical sectors of our national economy.

Working through CDS

Like a premonition, the scheme’s Community Development Service programme is primarily aimed at harnessing the skills of youth corps members into effective machinery for national development. Under this programme, corps members are usually organised to work with local communities to promote and execute development projects as well as complement the activities of government at all levels in the stride for national development.In conjunction with various national and international organisations, the corps has been playing leading role in the successful implementation and achievements of the objectives of a number of national programmes aimed at eradicating diseases of public health concerns such as the Guinea Worm Eradication Programme, National Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS Project, National Roll-Back Malaria Programme, Campaign against Ebola Virus and Lassa Fever Diseases, Polio Eradication, Yellow Fever Immunisation Campaigns, Cholera, Cerebrospinal Meningitis and other national immunisation programmes, among many others.

In clear terms, NYSC’s presence in the rural communities across the country provides good opportunity to identify national development challenges and commit necessary resources to tackle them. This also underscores the philosophy behind the founding objective of the scheme which seeks, among other things, “To develop in the Nigerian youths attitude of mind acquired through shared experience and suitable training which would make them more amenable to mobilisation in the national interest.” The current national effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and effectively address the pandemic is another clarion call for members of the scheme. This explains the overwhelming response by youth corps members across the country as they consider their involvement as a patriotic and loyal service to the country.

State-by-state intervention

Report across the nation confirm the active involvement of corps members in the activities of COVID-19 Task forces set up by States and FCT. In Nasarawa state, for example, Corps Fashion Designers under the Culture and Tourism (Fashion Design) component of the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme of the scheme produced and distributed a customised face mask in large quantitied as part of its support towards the effort of the state government aimed at stemming the tide of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Similarly in Oyo state, corps members under the Cosmetology (SAED) Skill Group produced and distributed hand sanitisers to members of the public as its contribution towards combating the disease in the state. Likewise, in Kwara  state, a group of corps members produced and  freely distributed hand sanitisers and packaged liquid soaps during a state- wide campaign organised to sensitise the general public on the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Bayelsa state, a corps member, Enokela Eicha Anyebe (BY/19B/0185 also produced and distributed hand sanitisers to children, youths and the aged while sensitising them separately in four different communities in the state. Anyebe also donated same products to his colleagues, the corps medical personnel who are actively involved in the activities of the state task force on COVID-19.
In Cross River state, a corps member; Hodo Bassey (CR)19C/3283) donated his monthly allowance to the state government as part of his selfless contribution to effort towards mobilising  funds to provide logistics needed to address COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Another Corps member; Adefisoye Adeshola Joseph (OG/19B/1322 from Ogun state equally produced and donated hand washing liquid  soaps to Ogun state government committee incharge of the control of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
On the other hand, NYSC Editorial and Publicity Community Development Service Group in Sokoto state focused on the production of an audio-visual jingle to sensitise members of the general public on the need to adhere to safety measures and other hygienic best practices advocated by relevant health bodies to check the spread of the virus in the country. The jingle is currently trending online.
As a government youth programme that stood the test of time and still waxing strong after 46 years, the NYSC scheme would continue to serve as a veritable national platform where the youth population in Nigeria look up to as role  models gy drawing inspiration and imbibing positive and higher values of life.

These attributes of the NYSC would no doubt continue to convince every administration in Nigeria of its enduring relevance to the country’s national unity and development agenda. President Muhammadu Buhari had recently while receiving a delegation of corps members at the State House on a “Thank you” visit over the increase in corps members allowance, restated his commitment to strengthening and sustaining the scheme.
While appreciating governments at various levels for their abiding faith towards the effective utilisation of abundant resources available in the scheme, NYSC management wishes to advise government at all levels to consider the engagement of corps members in the distribution of relief materials to citizens and other relevant assignments. The citizens across the country who traditionally see corps members as agents of positive change and development would naturally cooperate with them thereby enhancing a hitch-free distribution of the relief materials and overall success of the national effort to address the challenges associated with COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheme is optimistic of positive outcome as it jointly works assiduously with other agencies towards stemming the tide of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria.    

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