By Ruona Agbroko
November 24, 2009 01:38AMT
Nigerian president, Umar Musa Yar`Adua has instructed the Inspector General of Police, Ogbonnaya Onovo to provide “twenty-four hour police protection” for National Youth Corps Service (NYSC) members nationwide, the Minister of Youth Development, Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, said at the weekend.
This is in response to the recent attacks and killings of corps members in some states of the federation.
A statement signed at the weekend by Rasheed Olawale, an aide to Mr. Olasunkanmi said all commissioners of police in the 36 states and Abuja had been notified of the president’s directive.
Mr. Olasunkami announced the president’s decision, while presenting a paper titled: “Our Youth, Democracy and Nation building,” at a lecture organized by the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) in Osogbo.
“States governments must, however, make this feasible by building corps members’ lodges where these young Nigerians in service of the fatherland can be accommodated and secured throughout the duration of the service year,” he said.
The vulnerability of corps members became an issue of national concern, when Ibukun Akinjogbin, Leke Akande and Tola Odusola, were killed on November 28th, 2008 in their residences in Plateau State by a mob protesting the Jos council elections.
On September 26, 2009, Grace Uchang, a 25-year-old serving in Borno State, was raped and killed near her residence in the Customs area of Maiduguri.
Also, three weeks ago, on November 03, 2009, two females undertaking their national service in Kano State were raped at gunpoint by a gang of 14 young men at the official ‘Corpers lodge’ of Adamu Secondary School, in Fagge area of Kano. Authorities have not released the identity of the victims, disclosing only that one is a native of Lagos State while the other hails from Oyo State.
These, coupled with instances where corps members died of illnesses as well in road accidents whilst travelling to and from their places of assignments, have strengthened the position of Nigerians calling for the scrapping of the scheme. The calls have been very vocal in recent times.
Meeting critical needs
However, the spokesperson for the NYSC, Abdulwahab Obomeile, has blamed state governments for the lack of security for youth corps members. In an article sent to media houses at the weekend, Mr. Obomeile said the accusation that the NYSC was “camping people’s children in decrepit hostels and unsecure camps,” was an unfair one.
“The NYSC cannot force a state government to provide conducive camping environment,” he said. Admitting that corps members “have no input into their deployment and posting for national service in strange land, except cases involving married women and those with life-threatening illnesses,” Mr. Obomeile said the NYSC had been agitating for better living standards for youth corps members and that some state governments were responding.
The NYSC official said the nation would suffer if the scheme was cancelled as demanded by some people.
“A lot of schools, particularly in the rural areas would close without the regular supply of corps members,” he said. “In very extreme cases, corps members serve as principals, vice principals, games masters and tutors.”http://234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/News/National/5485299-147/story.csp