By Marvellous Isaac/Hussaini Isah /Rose Adekunle
Abuja – Some concerned stakeholders in Abuja have urged the National Assembly to review the age eligibility in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Act from 30 to at least 32 years.
The stakeholders made the call in separate interviews on Friday, saying that this would to allow more graduates to partake in the scheme.
They made the call against the backdrop of the ban imposed on Benue State University from participating in scheme, following alleged age falsification by some fresh graduates of the institution to cheat the system.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Act establishing the NYSC scheme stipulates that graduates of tertiary institutions both in the country and abroad whose age is below 30 must participate in the one-year scheme.
While those who are 30 years and above will be exempted from the service and given certificates upon completion of their first degree programmes.
An educationist, Malam Usman Ya’u, reacting to the age-limit policy called for a review of the law pegging eligibility of fresh graduates to participate in the National Youth Service scheme at age 30.
Ya’u described the age barrier as serious issue for many youths desirous of serving their fatherland for one year before going into the labour market.
He said that to solve the problem, NYSC should consider raising the age limit to a more reasonable level.
“Most undergraduates do have one form of deficiency or the other in their courses and by the time they want to go for national service, they may have been overage,” he said.
An ex-NYSC member, Mr Tosin Kayode, blamed the incessant strike by tertiary institutions for the increase in age-cheating among prospective participants of the scheme.
He said that undergraduates spend more years than necessary to pursue their courses, saying that many of them were frustrated by the system because of the disruptions of academic calendar virtually every year.
“If a student who is supposed to study accountancy for four years and due to strike ended up serving extra one or two years, what would happen to such a student?
“He will just have to conceal the truth about his age.
“If NYSC wants to reduce the rate of falsification of age among fresh graduates, they should raise the age limit to at least 32 years because money is also considered a huge factor hindering students from graduating on time,” he said.
He said that many graduates do not get the opportunity to serve their country even if they were medically fit to do so due largely to the age limiting factor.
“If only NYSC can consider increasing the age range for participation in the scheme, the decision would really be for the good of the Nigerian state,” he added.
Mr Omowumi Dada, a member of NYSC Batch `C’ from Kwara State Polytechnic, said the NYSC authorities should now reconsider the age limit being enforced to enable more fresh graduates to partake in the scheme.
Dada said that in the light of the current situation of things, increasing the age-limit was long overdue, saying many graduates above 30 years and medically fit should be allowed to serve their country with passion and patriotism.
Another serving member of NYSC, Ms Bolu Aina, advised the government to end the age-barrier for willing and able graduates to participate in the scheme to curb the tendency of age-cheating.
NAN recalls that the Benue State University undergraduates recently protested against the ban imposed on their graduates from participating in the NYSC scheme due to alleged age falsification by some of prospective participants.
The House of Representatives has, however, ordered the NYSC authorities to rescind the ban imposed on the fresh graduates of the university in the interest of natural justice.