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2019 general election: Plight of Nigerian corps members

By Deborah Phillips
28 April 2019   |   3:11 am
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), which was initiated in 1973 by the then Nigeria Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon, is a compulsory one-year civic responsibility to the Nation.

[FILE PHOTO] Corp members taking the oath of allegiance during their swearing-in ceremony

Sir: The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), which was initiated in 1973 by the then Nigeria Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon, is a compulsory one-year civic responsibility to the Nation. It is aimed at inculcating discipline, patriotism and loyalty; develop attitudes of mind acquired through shared experience and suitable training, promoting national unity and integration among many others. Since the inception of this scheme, many corps members have experienced so many challenges in the course of their duty to this great Nation Nigeria.

It is on record that so many corps members have lost their lives en-route their places of assignment due to the bad state of the Nigerian roads and the insecurity in the country. Despite the harsh conditions and rejection faced by many corps members, the Nigerian government has done little or nothing to curb this menace. It is worrisome and calls for concern. The government is saddled with the responsibility of providing security to its citizen especially the corps members. It is possible to provide security against other ills but as far as death is concerned, we men live in a city without walls.

During the 2011 post election violence in some parts of the Northern States, no fewer than 10 corps members lost their lives while answering the clarion call. Also, in the 2015 general elections many corps members who served as presiding officers (PO) lost their lives while on national assignments. In spite all assurances by the government to bring the perpetrators to book, no arrest has been made till date. The most painful part of the whole issue is the manner at which these unfortunate corps members were buried by the government officials.

Some corps members also died due to negligence by the hospital attendants who pay little or no attention to the late corps members claiming they are faking the illnesses. The postponement of this year’s 2019 election has caused different reactions from different groups and personalities. Corps members are not left behind as some of them who pleaded anonymity have these to say.” We are youth corps members serving in Kano and we are saddened by the postponement of this 2019 election.

We have risked our lives for this National Assignment, wasted our meagre allowance on transport to our various polling units without a dime from INEC. We slept on bare floors, some in classrooms and some in open fields not minding the harsh cold and insecurity in Kano. Mosquitoes feasted on our blood. Only for them to tell us this morning that the election has been postponed? This is wicked. Are they going to compensate us for this?” It is high time government awoke from its slumber and fulfills its responsibilities to the corps members by providing them with adequate allowances, accommodation and security.

They are our future and we must handle them with care. Adequate measures to be put in place to protect the lives of the corps members wherever they are been posted to; because security represents our sense of worth, our identity, our emotional anchorage, our self esteem as well as our basic personal strength. The government needs to fix our value system and take responsibilities for their actions.
Deborah Phillips, wrote from Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano

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