FOR THE RECORD: Emerging challenges of Corp administration – A corps employer’s perspective-

FOR THE RECORD: Emerging challenges of Corp administration – A corps employer’s perspective-




I count it as a great privilege to be among you here today, to speak to you on issues of practical life reality. It was only a few days ago that I was called upon to deliver this lecture. I almost declined as the timing was very short. But on a second consideration, I felt this could be an ample opportunity for corps employers to share their experiences and deepen the NYSC initiative.

But before I start, let me salute all the corps employers in Nigeria, particularly in Delta State, for contributing immensely to the growth of the National Youths Service Corps, NYSC. They have done tremendously well.


The Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970 left a big scar on the nation and the need to reconstruct, reconcile and rebuild the country led to the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC by former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, via Decree No. 24 of 22nd May, 1973, ‘’with a view to the proper encouragement and development of common ties amongst the youths of Nigeria and promotion of national unity.”

The establishing law of the programme was later reviewed by General Ibrahim Babangida’s administration with Decree No.51 of 16th June, 1993.  The objective of the programme as spelt out in that decree is as follows:

1.      To inculcate discipline in Nigerian youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry at work, and of patriotic and loyal service to Nigeria in any situation they may find themselves.
2.      To raise the moral tone of the Nigerian youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievement, social and cultural improvement.
3.      To develop in the Nigerian youths the attitudes of mind, acquired through shared experience and suitable training, which will make them more amenable to mobilization in the national interest.
4.      To develop in the Nigerian youths the attitudes of mind, acquired through shared experience and suitable training, which will make them more amenable to mobilization in the national interest.
5.      To enable Nigerian youths acquire the spirit of self-reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment.
6.      To contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy
7.      To develop common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.
8.      To remove prejudices, eliminate ignorance and confirm at first hand the many similarities among Nigerians of all ethnic groups.
9.      To develop a sense of corporate existence and common destiny of the people of Nigeria.
10.  The equitable distribution of members of the service corps and the effective utilization of their skills in area of national needs.
11.  That as far as possible, youths are assigned to jobs in States other than their States of origin.
12.  That such group of youths assigned to work together is as representative of Nigeria as far as possible.
13.  That the Nigerian youths are exposed to the modes of living of the people in different parts of Nigeria.
14.  That the Nigerian youths are encouraged to eschew religious intolerance by accommodating religious differences.
15.  That members of the service corps are encouraged to seek at the end of their one year national service, career employment all over Nigeria, thus promoting the free movement of labour.
16.  That employers are induced partly through their experience with members of the service corps to employ more readily and on a permanent basis, qualified Nigerians, irrespective of their States of origin.

The word, “Emerging” can be viewed in this perspective as something that is developing or growing while challenges, can be described as something that “needs great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a person’s ability.” (Cambridge dictionary.)
Collins dictionary put it in a better context as “something new and difficult which requires great effort and determination.”
So, the topic for today is about how to tackle developing issues by corps employers.  The fact that you are in this hall shows that you are all corps employers, that is, those who engage corps members, or organizations that provide space for corps members to carry out the annual youths service.  In that case, without you, there will be no NYSC.  Evidently, you are contributing to the growth of the NYSC and I will appeal to you to all clap for yourselves as the nation applauds your efforts and contributions to nation’s growth.

Bearing in mind the fact that we are talking about management viz-a-viz managing corps members employed in our organizations, it is important that we take a cursory look at the school of thoughts in management.   We shall look at two school of thoughts in management; the Classical school of thoughts and the human relationship approach.

Classical School of Management:
This was developed during the Industrial Revolution when new problems related to the factory system began to appear. Managers were unsure of how to train employees (many of them non‐English speaking immigrants) or deal with increased labour dissatisfaction, so they began to test solutions. As a result, the classical management theory developed from efforts to find the “one best way” to perform and manage tasks. This school of thought is made up of two branches: classical scientific and classical administrative, described in the following sections.
The classical scientific branch arose because of the need to increase productivity and efficiency. The emphasis was on trying to find the best way to get the most work done by examining how the work process was actually accomplished and by scrutinizing the skills of the workforce.
The classical scientific school owes its roots to several major contributors, including Frederick Taylor, Henry Gantt, and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth.
Frederick Taylor is often called the “father of scientific management.” Taylor believed that organizations should study tasks and develop precise procedures. As an example, in 1898, Taylor calculated how much iron from rail cars Bethlehem Steel plant workers could be unloading if they were using the correct movements, tools, and steps. The result was an amazing 47.5 tons per day instead of the mere 12.5 tons each worker had been averaging. In addition, by redesigning the shovels the workers used, Taylor was able to increase the length of work time and therefore decrease the number of people shovelling from 500 to 140. Lastly, he developed an incentive system that paid workers more money for meeting the new standard. Productivity at Bethlehem Steel shot up overnight. As a result, many theorists followed Taylor’s philosophy when developing their own principles of management.
Henry Gantt, an associate of Taylor’s, developed the Gantt chart, a bar graph that measures planned and completed work along each stage of production. Based on time instead of quantity, volume, or weight, this visual display chart has been a widely used planning and control tool since its development in 1910.
Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, a husband‐and‐wife team, studied job motions. In Frank’s early career as an apprentice bricklayer, he was interested in standardization and method study. He watched bricklayers and saw that some workers were slow and inefficient, while others were very productive. He discovered that each bricklayer used a different set of motions to lay bricks. From his observations, Frank isolated the basic movements necessary to do the job and eliminated unnecessary motions. Workers using these movements raised their output from 1,000 to 2,700 bricks per day. This was the first motion study designed to isolate the best possible method of performing a given job. Later, Frank and his wife Lillian studied job motions using a motion‐picture camera and a split‐second clock. When her husband died at the age of 56, Lillian continued their work.
Thanks to these contributors and others, the basic ideas regarding scientific management developed. They include the following:

Developing new standard methods for doing each job

Selecting, training, and developing workers instead of allowing them to choose their own tasks and train themselves

Developing a spirit of cooperation between workers and management to ensure that work is carried out in accordance with devised procedures

Dividing work between workers and management in almost equal shares, with each group taking over the work for which it is best fitted

Whereas scientific management focused on the productivity of individuals, the classical administrative approach concentrates on the total organization. The emphasis is on the development of managerial principles rather than work methods.
Contributors to this school of thought include Max Weber, Henri Fayol, Mary Parker Follett, and Chester I. Barnard. These theorists studied the flow of information within an organization and emphasized the importance of understanding how an organization operated.
In the late 1800s, Max Weber disliked that many European organizations were managed on a “personal” family‐like basis and that employees were loyal to individual supervisors rather than to the organization. He believed that organizations should be managed impersonally and that a formal organizational structure, where specific rules were followed, was important. In other words, he didn’t think that authority should be based on a person’s personality. He thought authority should be something that was part of a person’s job and passed from individual to individual as one person left and another took over. This non-personal, objective form of organization was called a bureaucracy.
Weber believed that all bureaucracies have the following characteristics:

A well‐defined hierarchy. All positions within a bureaucracy are structured in a way that permits the higher positions to supervise and control the lower positions. This clear chain of command facilitates control and order throughout the organization.

Division of labor and specialization. All responsibilities in an organization are specialized so that each employee has the necessary expertise to do a particular task.

Rules and regulations. Standard operating procedures govern all organizational activities to provide certainty and facilitate coordination.

Impersonal relationships between managers and employees. Managers should maintain an impersonal relationship with employees so that favoritism and personal prejudice do not influence decisions.

Competence. Competence, not “who you know,” should be the basis for all decisions made in hiring, job assignments, and promotions in order to foster ability and merit as the primary characteristics of a bureaucratic organization.

Records. A bureaucracy needs to maintain complete files regarding all its activities.

Henri Fayol, a French mining engineer, developed 14 principles of management based on his management experiences. These principles provide modern‐day managers with general guidelines on how a supervisor should organize her department and manage her staff. Although later research has created controversy over many of the following principles, they are still widely used in management theories.

Division of work: Division of work and specialization produces more and better work with the same effort.

Authority and responsibility: Authority is the right to give orders and the power to exact obedience. A manager has official authority because of her position, as well as personal authority based on individual personality, intelligence, and experience. Authority creates responsibility.

Discipline: Obedience and respect within an organization are absolutely essential. Good discipline requires managers to apply sanctions whenever violations become apparent.

Unity of command: An employee should receive orders from only one superior.

Unity of direction: Organizational activities must have one central authority and one plan of action.

Subordination of individual interest to general interest: The interests of one employee or group of employees are subordinate to the interests and goals of the organization.

Remuneration of personnel: Salaries — the price of services rendered by employees — should be fair and provide satisfaction both to the employee and employer.

Centralization: The objective of centralization is the best utilization of personnel. The degree of centralization varies according to the dynamics of each organization.

Scalar chain: A chain of authority exists from the highest organizational authority to the lowest ranks.

Order: Organizational order for materials and personnel is essential. The right materials and the right employees are necessary for each organizational function and activity.

Equity: In organizations, equity is a combination of kindliness and justice. Both equity and equality of treatment should be considered when dealing with employees.

Stability of tenure of personnel: To attain the maximum productivity of personnel, a stable work force is needed.

Initiative: Thinking out a plan and ensuring its success is an extremely strong motivator. Zeal, energy, and initiative are desired at all levels of the organizational ladder.

Esprit de corps: Teamwork is fundamentally important to an organization. Work teams and extensive face‐to‐face verbal communication encourages teamwork.

Mary Parker Follett stressed the importance of an organization establishing common goals for its employees. However, she also began to think somewhat differently than the other theorists of her day, discarding command‐style hierarchical organizations where employees were treated like robots. She began to talk about such things as ethics, power, and leadership. She encouraged managers to allow employees to participate in decision making. She stressed the importance of people rather than techniques — a concept very much before her time. As a result, she was a pioneer and often not taken seriously by management scholars of her time. But times change, and innovative ideas from the past suddenly take on new meanings. Much of what managers do today is based on the fundamentals that Follett established more than 80 years ago.
Chester Barnard, who was president of New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, introduced the idea of the informal organization — cliques (exclusive groups of people) that naturally form within a company. He felt that these informal organizations provided necessary and vital communication functions for the overall organization and that they could help the organization accomplish its goals.
Barnard felt that it was particularly important for managers to develop a sense of common purpose where a willingness to cooperate is strongly encouraged. He is credited with developing the acceptance theory of management, which emphasizes the willingness of employees to accept that managers have legitimate authority to act. Barnard felt that four factors affected the willingness of employees to accept authority:

The employees must understand the communication.

The employees accept the communication as being consistent with the organization’s purposes.

The employees feel that their actions will be consistent with the needs and desires of the other employees.

The employees feel that they are mentally and physically able to carry out the order.

Barnard’s sympathy for and understanding of employee needs positioned him as a bridge to the behavioural school of management, the next school of thought to emerge.     –

The Human Relationship Approach:

Elton Mayo states that employees are motivated far more by relational factors such as attention and camaraderie than by monetary rewards or environmental factors such as lighting, humidity, etc.
The following are the four combinations of hid theory and the effect of each on team dynamics:
1. Groups with low norms and low cohesiveness are ineffective; they have no impact, since none of the members are motivated to excel.
2. Groups with low norms and high cohesiveness have a negative impact, since fellow members encourage negative behavior (e.g., gangs).
3. Groups with high norms and low cohesiveness have some degree of positive impact through individual member accomplishments.
4. Groups with high norms and high cohesiveness have the greatest positive impact, since group members encourage one another to excel.
So, In the human relationship approach to work, workers are not just concerned with money but could be better motivated by having their social needs met whilst at work.
Mayo introduced the Human Relations School of thought, which focused on managers taking more of an interest in the workers, treating them as people who have worthwhile opinions and realising that workers enjoy interacting together.   Mayo concluded that workers are best motivated by:
Better communication between managers and workers
Greater manager involvement in employees working lives
Working in groups or teams
His theory most closely fits in with a paternalistic style of management.
Key summary for Mayo:
•           Workers motivated by having social needs met
•           Workers should work in teams
•           Managers should have greater involvement in employee’s working life
More two-way communication between managers and workers

Having understood the two types of management, as managers, you can rightly understand where you fall in; a manager who deals with corps members by looking at their output and assessing them based on output or a manager who provides incentives, have personal relationship with the corps members for them to bring out their best.
Since we have identified the roles we are playing in our organisation, we can collectively, discuss the topic,  “EMERGING CHALLENGES OF CORPS ADMINISTATION:  A CORPS EMPLOYER’S PERSPECTIVE.”
Participatory because, our experiences may differ but one can generalise by looking at the following:
1.      First exposure:
To most graduates, their first workplace experience is their place of primary assignments during the compulsory one year service to the nation after graduation.  So, the corps employer will have to device means to manage someone who has never left his comfort zone, someone who possibly, finds himself for the first time in a work environment, someone who possibly too, finds himself in another geopolitical zone – new culture, for the first time.
2.      Lack of interest:
From inception, the NYSC scheme was designed primarily for youths, people who are most likely below the age of 30 years and can be described as very active.  Of course, the future of the country will be bleak if such youths are not properly guided and further moulded to be better persons.  With crave to make quick money, some of the corps members are not ready to bring out their best during the one year service.  Some of them have already made money as undergraduates while some see the service year as an opportunity to make quick money.  So, some of these set of corps members are not ready to stay in their place of primary assignments.  They are more interested in engaging in two or more jobs outside their place of primary assignments and most often, are not interested in rendering any service in their place of primary assignments.  These set of corps members can be very difficult to manage; they have people among the NYSC officials who will give them tips on how to manoeuvre their ways.  Even the NYSC shortened the days of service weekly to three days a week with the weekly Community Development Service and one day off for the Corps members.  In this situation, the corps employer apply the carrot and stick approach.  The corps employer gives incentives to make the place of primary assignment more favourable and also, have discussions with the corps members on the need for them to see the one year service as a sacrifice or accept it as an additional one year in the higher institution but in this case, practical exposure to life after school.  When it fails, the corps employer is at liberty to reject such corps member(s).
3.        Accommodation:
This is a major problem bearing in mind the high cost of rent.  Some corps employers provide accommodation for the corps members serving in their organisation which is good, but there are others that cannot afford to do that.  No doubt, accommodation is a serious issue because, the allowance given to corps members cannot take care of their rents.  Also, most corps members cannot afford to pay for one year rent bearing in mind that they may leave the state of their primary assignments before the expiration of the one year.  In most local government areas, there are corpers’ lodge.  This is good but some of them are far from the places of primary assignments of the corps members.  As such, this is a thorny issue that proper arrangements have to be made between the corps members and their employers.
4.      Integration:
There are some corps members right from the day they are posted, will make up their mind not to adjust to the lifestyle of the people.   Generally, this is a serious challenge and these set of corps members will be eager to be posted to other places and if they fail in their bid, will not align with their place of primary assignment no matter the incentives.  At times, this set of corps members will be engaging in activities that are inimical to the growth of the organisation where they are posted to.  Management of the NYSC will have to take serious measures to caution such corps members if they are reported to them rather than defending them so that the aim of fostering national unity will be achieved.
5.      Incentives:
This can be bogus because it differs from one organisation to the other.  While an organisation may increase the allowance given to the corps member, the other may provide accommodation and possibly food for the corps member.  But in all, it is important to appreciate the corps members so as to encourage them to know the values of hard work and have the passion to engage in progressive activities.  If a corps member is hard working, nothing stops an organisation to absorb such a person as a staff after the one year service.
6.      Dwindling economy:
The country is facing economic challenges and this is affecting organisations and individuals.  Some organisations are trying to remain afloat and find it difficult to meet with their obligations to their staff.  If an organisation is so affected, corps members serving in such organisation may face serious challenges if they are not humane enough to understand the plights of such organisations.  This is because, they may be placing unnecessary demands on the organisation.  Bearing in mind that the corps members are not also living in isolation but in a society where they will have to spend money to cater for themselves, there is also, the need for such organisation to reach an agreement or adopt measures that will ensure good work environment for everybody.
7.      Unskilled manpower that is not in tandem with job realities:
Education helps to produce skilled and component human resources required for the development of different sectors of the country.  There are some corps members who find themselves in places where their skills does not match their job description. When a corps members is sent to a place that requires professionalism and he or she is not trained in that area, very likely, he will be like a fish out of the water.  Unless he is willing and ready to adapt, he may be in an organisation that he will not bring out his best and like be seen as lazy or not interested in contributing to the growth of the organisation.
8.      Truancy:
Some corps members will always have reasons not to come to work.  This is very common among corps members who are from the Eastern part of the country and are serving in Asaba.  Almost all of them will have relations in Onitsha where they will go to and abandon their place of primary assignments with flimsy excuses.  In this situation, the corps employer have a duty to inform the NYSC officials bearing in mind that the laws does not permit corps members to reside in states other than where they are posted.
9.      Modern technology:
When a corps members is faced with modern technology in his place of primary assignment, unless the corps member is ready to improve on his knowledge, he will find it difficult to adjust.  If the corps employer is able to find out early enough what is affecting the corps member, the situation will be easier to manage.  Imagine a Medical Doctor who finds himself in a hospital with modern equipment he is not used to.

Some of the following are what is expected from the corps employers:
1,.        Early application for the services of Corps members.
2.         Not rejecting corps members
3.         Not encouraging corps members to accept rejection
4.         Full utilisation of corps members
5.         Early issuance of monthly clearance letters to deserving corps members
6.         Encouraging corps members to complete the service year without absconding
7.         Catering for the welfare of corps members


Since scrapping NYSC is not an option as it is encouraging Nigerian youths to settle outside their states, the corps employers have a duty to work closely with the management of the NYSC to ensure that there is discipline, especially for those who are not interested in engaging in the one year service year.
As much as possible, NYSC officials should encourage corps members to service in their places of primary assignments rather than giving them tips on how they can manoeuvre or what they can do for them to be rejected or redeployed.
For the corps employers, corps members naturally, boost the workforce and they should be encouraged for them to enjoy the one year service and possibly, acclimatise fully with the environment that they will not be willing to go back to their states of origin.
Though, corps members may not be placed on same salary structure as staff, their entitlements should be such that they will be happy in executing their duties.

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