Former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in the February 25 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar said the establishment of the National Youth Service Youth Corps (NYSC) is one of the greatest policies ever conceived in the country.
Atiku therefore praised General Yakubu Gowon for introducing the scheme which he said has fortified national unification.
Atiku, in a press release issued by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe Sunday to mark the 50th anniversary of the policy, explained that unity is one of the toughest challenges of Nigeria and the NYSC programme was a major effort towards national integration and unity.
The NYSC was founded on 22 May 1973.
According to the PDP presidential candidate, election, “we must acknowledge and give credit to General Yakubu Gowon for introducing this brilliant idea aimed at consolidating national unity after the bitter memories of the tragic Nigerian civil war.”
“Unity which is also my personal agenda as a politician, is essential to building a strong country because a divided country is a weakened country. For decades our youths and children have been infected with hate and prejudice. They can’t think for themselves; they judge others unfairly because they didn’t interact with others to understand them. Interaction with others is one of the best ways to independently and objectively judge them, thereby changing our notions about other people,” Atiku is quoted to have said.
The Wazirin Adamawa acknowledged that “indeed, the NYSC went a long way to neutralise the impact of prejudice through interaction with other people, and in fact, even encouraged inter-marriages.”
Atiku particularly paid tribute to General Yakubu Gowon for the effort to introduce NYSC.
“The history of this great policy will be incomplete without a mention of the remarkable role played by Gowon and his administration in the success of this programme. Gowon had demonstrated great leadership skills and statesmanship in the adverse consequences of the civil war, one of which included the task of rebuilding national unity,” Atiku stressed.
The former Vice President also called on politicians, religious leaders and other opinion leaders to continue to encourage unity among the people, warning that disunity feeds hate which in turn, feeds conflicts.
“We should at all times make utterances that promote love and unity and avoid statements that stoke up bitter divisions and intolerance,” he added.
He, however, called for a review of the mandate of the scheme to reflect the demands of the current reality.