ABUJA- President Muhammadu Buhari has saluted former Head of State, retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon, for the wisdom of setting up the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), in 1973.
In a statement by his spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, on Friday in Abuja, Buhari said that the scheme had truly achieved the goal of national integration.
The president said that this was by providing opportunities for cross cultural interactions and establishing formidable bridges for improved understanding.
Buhari congratulated the former Head of State, all the former and incumbent Directors-General of the Corps, for inspiring and sustaining a 50-year legacy that had strengthened a web of solidarity and bolstered loyalty to the nation.
He said the scheme had also broadened the horizon of citizens, promoted civic responsiveness, created a better understanding of various individual and ethnic identities, their diversities and underscored the bottom-line of the common values of fairness, justice, peace and unity.
According to him, the NYSC remains one the of strongest ideals of nation building, institutionally encouraging inter-cultural and inter-religious marriages and removing insularity among citizens.
He said the scheme had also helped in resettling of people of various tribes in different parts of the country, exploration of entrepreneurship and business opportunities in places, and enabling a new culture of oneness, brotherliness and neighborliness.
Buhari affirmed that the scheme must be sustained, with a constant reminder of the history, structure and purpose that should not be abused, trivialised or undermined for any reason.
This, he said, could be achieved by keeping a focus on the larger picture that: ”Nigeria’s unity is a process and a collective responsibility that must not be negotiated.”
According to the president, he shares the joyous season of the milestone with all those that have enjoyed the adventures of the scheme and have been sharing memories and pictures with nostalgia.
The president wished potential corps members all the best as they moved to different parts of the country, to share and explore new experiences of the diversity of Nigeria.
Buhari recalled that one of the joys and highlights of his administration has been the annual ritual of receiving corps members in his country home in Daura, Katsina State, during Eid-el-Fitr Sallah and asking about their welfare.
He noted that two visiting Presidents from Niger Republic and Guinea Bissau had participated and enjoyed such interactions.
The president thanked the Nigerian Army, Directors-General of the NYSC, and various private and public institutions for providing the enabling environment for the success of the scheme. (NAN)