By Emmanuel Onwubiko
It is no longer contentious to assert that leadership of any organization plays a pivotal role in shaping its course, defining its goals, and realizing its potential. Thus, the story of Brigadier General Yusha’u Dogara Ahmed’s journey within the context of heading the nation’s foremost national unifying institution known as the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) is considered by some analysts with considerable knowledge of that governmental department as one that exemplifies the fusion of academic excellence, military prowess, and visionary leadership.
His appointment which followed the disgraceful exit of the then substantive DG regarded as unqualified to head the NYSC and the hiatus that followed is to be analysed from a profound perspective in this piece. Suffice it to state that the DG of NYSC aforementioned, took over from where the first ever Woman acting DG of that nearly half a century old body, stopped. The lady who within few months of acting as DG whilst awaiting the appointment of a substantive DG, made phenomenal progress and now with the emergence of this current head of NYSC, things are looking good in the scheme.
His trajectory from the halls of Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria to assuming the role of the 22nd Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has been marked by unwavering commitment and transformative impact.
Brig. Gen. Ahmed’s academic journey began with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education (History). His intellectual curiosity led him further, acquiring a Master of Education (Educational Psychology) and a Master of Arts in Peace and Strategic Studies. This formidable academic foundation has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in shaping his vision for the NYSC, where education, skill development, and strategic thinking are at the forefront.
His military journey commenced in 1997, when he was commissioned into the Nigerian Army Education Corps as a Lieutenant. Embracing the Nigerian Armed Forces’ tradition of elevating professionalism through continuous training and retraining, he has pursued multiple courses, enriching his leadership acumen and military proficiency.
Assuming the role of Director-General of the NYSC on January 30th, 2023, Brig Gen Ahmed has embarked on a journey marked by profound achievements, strategic policy initiatives, and a vision to transform the NYSC into a beacon of youth development. Central to his administration’s objectives, he unveiled a comprehensive policy thrust, targeting key areas.
Brig Gen YD Ahmed’s Policy Thrust:
One of Brig Gen Ahmed’s immediate priorities was to enhance the security and welfare of both Corps Members and staff. By ensuring their safety, he aimed to create an environment conducive to optimal service delivery, thus safeguarding the well-being of those who contribute to the nation’s development.
Gen Ahmed recognized the importance of research and development in advancing the NYSC’s mission. His focus on creating an enabling environment for research aims to elevate the NYSC’s operations and impact by fostering innovative approaches.
Understanding the significance of collaboration, Brig Gen Ahmed aimed to strengthen stakeholders’ engagement to expand the horizons of the NYSC. This approach not only enriches the NYSC’s programs but also fosters a sense of shared responsibility in the organization’s mission.
Emphasizing the value of capacity building, Gen Ahmed aimed to enhance efficiency and performance within the NYSC. His investment in staff training underscores his commitment to equipping the organization with the skills required for success.
Also, recognizing the potential for skill development to empower Nigerian youth, Ahmed aimed to deepen the impact of the SAED program. This initiative aligns with his vision to equip youth with the tools they need to thrive in the modern workforce.
In the brief span of time since assuming office, Brig Gen Ahmed has achieved a series of notable milestones.
He oversaw the completion of the ICT Centre at the NYSC Headquarters Complex, thus enhancing the organization’s technological capabilities and enabling more efficient operations.
Again, the successful involvement of Corps Members in the 2023 General Elections demonstrated Brig Gen Ahmed’s commitment to national service and his belief in youth’s capacity to contribute to the nation’s democratic processes.
More so, the completion and equipping of the NYSC Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development Centre in Potiskum, Yobe State, exemplifies Gen Ahmed’s dedication to equipping Nigerian youth with practical skills for personal and economic growth.
Furthermore, Brig Gen Ahmed’s commitment to capacity building manifested in the training of 486 members of staff within the first quarter of 2023. This investment in human capital underscores his drive for enhanced organizational performance.
Despite the commendable achievements, Brigadier General Yusha’u Dogara Ahmed has also had to contend with several challenges:
The safety of Corps Members remains a pressing challenge, especially in regions prone to insecurity. The NYSC has had to grapple with instances of abductions and attacks on Corps Members, which has necessitated enhanced security measures and collaboration with relevant security agencies.
In some orientation camps and local government areas, inadequate infrastructure and facilities pose challenges to the NYSC’s operations. Addressing these infrastructure gaps requires coordination with various stakeholders, including government bodies and private partners.
While efforts have been made to digitize the posting process, some corps members still face challenges related to wrong postings. A more robust algorithm for posting that considers safety and individual circumstances could improve this aspect.
To build on Brigadier General Yusha’u Dogara Ahmed’s achievements and address challenges, several measures can be considered:
Collaborating closely with security agencies and local communities, it is essential to ensure the safety of Corps Members. Regular intelligence-sharing, joint training and the establishment of security task forces in vulnerable areas can enhance security measures.
Brigadier General YD Ahmed’s administration should prioritize upgrading facilities in orientation camps and local government areas. Engaging in public-private partnerships and leveraging government resources will also expedite the process.
Enhancing communication between NYSC officials and Corps Members is crucial. Clear guidelines, helplines, and regular updates on security situations and policies can keep Corps Members informed and ensure their safety.
General Ahmed should continue to expand the SAED program and collaborate with industries to offer practical training in sectors with high demand for skilled labor. This will empower Corps Members to thrive in the job market.
Strengthening community engagement initiatives can help build trust and support for the NYSC’s activities. Establishing community advisory councils and involving local Leaders in program planning will foster better collaboration.
Generally, Brigadier General Yusha’u Dogara Ahmed’s tenure at the NYSC has further exemplified the power of visionary leadership. His academic foundation, military expertise, and strategic acumen converged to create a leadership style that is comprehensive and far-reaching.
Amidst achievements and challenges, his dedication to youth development remained steadfast. Through a multi-faceted approach that encompassed security, skill development, stakeholder engagement, and technological evolution, he has continued to shape the NYSC into a catalyst for positive change in Nigeria’s youth landscape.
No wonder, in a resounding testament to his exemplary leadership, Brigadier General YD Ahmed, was bestowed with the prestigious title of a Fellow of the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies in June 2023.
This distinguished honor stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment to enhancing the welfare of both staff and corps members, while also addressing pressing security concerns since his assumption of duty as the 22nd Chief Executive of the NYSC.
In each endeavor, he has always reiterated that leadership transcended mere titles—it was a driving force that shaped destinies and moulded a brighter future. With his guidance, the NYSC is set for precedence in effective leadership for youth development institutions across the nation and even continent.
This is to inform him that the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) identifies with the ideals of setting up the NYSC and we will be always available to partner with that agency to promote human rights, skills acquisitions by youngsters and we will soon be coming up with a framework to help reinvigorate the advocacy for the establishment of the NYSC YOURHS TRUST FUND which is yet to be actualized after a lot of works were done by the charismatic head of NYSC Major General Shuaib Ibrahim.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.