President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to ensure the enrolment of corps members in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The Director-General of NYSC, Brigadier-General Shuaibu Ibrahim, told reporters yesterday in Abuja that the NYSC had begun talks with NHIS in compliance with the presidential directive.
In addition, the NYSC has intensified liaison with security agencies to ensure the security of corps members during their service year.
According to him, with the annual mobilisation of over 300,000 corps members, the NYSC no doubt "remains the most critical platform for mentoring Nigerian youths as drivers of national unity and development.
"I wish to use this opportunity to again express our gratitude to the security agencies and other stakeholders for their support. Furthermore, the scheme has concluded arrangement with the NHIS for the enrolment of corps members into the NHIS in line with a presidential directive. We have also expended huge resources on critical health needs of corps members, including footing of medical bills."
Shuaibu warned that in order to prevent a possible outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in orientation camps, participants for the 2020 orientation will be restricted to camps for 21 days.
"Once a corps member is tested and cleared to go into the camp, there is no coming out until after the 21-day period. Even our own staff after testing will not be allowed to come out because we don't know where they will go to. They are to remain in camp for the whole period," he explained.
He said the orientation would resume today starting with the 2020 Batch 'B' stream 1A with a total of 66,000 eligible graduates.
According to him, the exercise has been planned to take place in three streams for ease of compliance: Stream 1A, from10th to 30th November, 2020; stream 1B, from 3rd to 22nd December 2020 and stream 2, from 5th to 25th January 2021.
Shuaibu assured parents and guardians of the safety of their children and wards.
"I wish to assure Nigerians that all our children who will participate in the forthcoming orientation exercises will be adequately protected from Coronavirus," he added.
On the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) programme, Shuaibu said the scheme is opening channels through which corps members who are entrepreneurship oriented can source loan for capital to start their own business ventures.
He added: "On my assumption of duty, I affirmed my commitment to making the Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) Programme more functional.
"To match words with actions, management has taken several steps towards reinvigorating the SAED, including, but not limited, to the following: Renewal of commitment by NYSC and the Bank of Industry towards resuscitation of the empowerment of corps entrepreneurs with business loans under the BOI-NYSC Graduate Empowerment Fund (GEF).
"Intensive monitoring of the GEF beneficiaries is also being carried so as to achieve the desired outcomes and a new collaboration with NIRSAL Microfinance Bank on empowerment of Corps entrepreneurs."
The DG said the commission was working towards harnessing its revenue generation potentials through the reinvigoration of the various NYSC ventures.
Also speaking at the event, the Director General, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, emphasised the need for a compulsory test for all corps members and NYSC officials and the need to strictly adhere to the Presidential Task Force (PTF) COVID-19 prevention protocols.
"A compulsory screening test will be carried out for all corps members, officials and vendors on arrival at the orientation camps using an antigen-based rapid diagnostic test kit approved by the World Health Organisation", he said
He was pleased that despite the huge challenges posed by the pandemic, orientation camps are going to reopen again. "I am very excited that despite the constraints of the pandemic, we have found a way, collaboratively, to ensure that NYSC orientation camps across the country can reopen safely.
"And this has been in consultation with NYSC authorities and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 (PTF-COVID-19) are working very hard to facilitate the safe conduct of the 2020 NYSC orientation camp activities," he stated.
The NCDC boss said that "readiness assessments have been conducted across NYSC camps to ensure that all camps meet the key performance indicators (KPIs) of COVID-19 preventive measures and are ready for safe opening."