By Katurak Yashim
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has charged the over five million Nigerians that have undergone the one-year service to help promote the spirit of national unity.
Brig.-Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, the NYSC Director-General, gave the task at the Closing Ceremony of the NYSC 2021 Annual Cultural Festival in Abuja on Friday.
The festival was themed: “Exploring Potentials, Strengthening Capacity of Youth Through Sports and Cultural Activities for Integration and National Development”.
Ibrahim said that irrespective of the country’s ethnic and religious diversity, a united nation can still be built through shared values, a spirit of patriotism and collective will.
He, therefore, charged the more than 5 million Nigerians that have passed through the scheme to live by the spirit of national unity instilled in them during the service and to promote the same.
“Over five million Nigerians have gone through the NYSC. I urge you to let the spirit of the NYSC live in us because our strength lies in our diversity.
“There is no country without problems, but they turn their problems into opportunities.
“Suffice to say that irrespective of our ethnic and religious differences, we can build a united nation through our shared values, the spirit of patriotism and our collective will.
“The NYSC has for decades employed the cultural festival as a platform for the promotion of the diverse cultural heritage Nigeria is blessed with,” the director-general said.
Ibrahim said that the festival was also an opportunity for the scheme to promote interactions and cultural appreciation among corps members thereby sustaining unity in Nigeria.
He said that the festival aimed to expose the abundant talent of corps members in dance, comedy, drama and directing.
The director-general said that the performances showcased by corps members during the festival were a clear illustration of the effective integration of corps members in their host communities.
According to Ibrahim, the theme for this year’s festival is very apt, that is our cultural diversity is a great asset that should strengthen rather than divide us.
“It will interest our distinguished guests to know that a good number of corps members do not belong to the ethnic groups or geo-political zones which dances and songs they are performing.
“I commend corps members for the display of marvelous skills in drama, dance and comedy.
“I encourage you to avail yourselves of opportunities for gainful careers in the entertainment industry,” Ibrahim said.
Earlier, Mr Abdulrazak Salawu, the NYSC Director, Community Development Service (CDS) and Special Projects (SP), noted that Nigeria’s cultural and multi-ethnic diversity can be harnessed through the NYSC cultural activities.
Salawu said that this was because the various events of the festival were designed to promote the cultural heritage of the country and galvanise the youth towards nation building.
“The NYSC is lucky to have the current director-general who has not only improved the visibility of the scheme, but also revolutionalised its programmes and activities.
“There could not have been a better time that the D-G’s services are needed here for the purposes of nation-building.”
Salawu assured that the scheme did not record any casualties throughout the exercise.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the cultural festival was instituted in 1984, following the NYSC management’s decision to use dance and drama as tools to further entrench and deepen the objectives of the scheme.
NAN also recallls that the 2001 edition of the festival witnessed the introduction of stand-up comedy as one of the events to be competed for by the NYSC state secretariates.
The 2021 edition of the festival was held from Oct. 11 to Oct. 14, with an array of cultural dances, drama and comedy displays from corps members who converged on Abuja from various states of the federation.
NAN reports that in the dance category, Plateau State took the first position, while Ogun came second, and Bauchi went home with the third position.
For the drama category, Rivers took the first position, Oyo came second, and Ebonyi took the third position at the competition.
Akwa Ibom took the first position in the comedy category, while Gombe State emerged second while Plateau took the third position. (NAN)