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NYSC posting: Why South-West governors should not keep aloof

Published by Tribune on Fri, 17 Aug 2012

Laudable as the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) by the fresh graduates from universities and equivalent tertiary institutions is, its essence is unfortunately being threatened by the current security challenges staring the nation in the face, especially in the northern part of the country. The raison d etre for setting up the scheme was among other things, to foster unity among the various ethnic groups in the country. However, unfolding events years after the establishment of the scheme have virtually made the realisation of such a lofty objective difficult as we all pay lip service to the so-called unity of the country. I remember our excursion to Kaduna and Minna in the 70s. We visited Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna and Ahmadu Bahago Secondary School in Minna, Niger State among other places. We moved freely without fear of any attack. The experience was thrilling and we all wished we could repeat the exercise.But we dare not venture into such a trip now given the security situation in the country. Then, people could live and work anywhere without any fear of being molested. But now the unity of the country appears to be greatly threatened in view of glaring insecurity as a result of wars and killings almost everywhere. Sentiment apart, the northern part of the country has become less attractive to most southerners. Nowadays, unless compelled by necessity, no southerner wants to risk going to the North for fear of possible attack by the terrorists who have literally taken over and have reduced most lively parts of the North to zones of terror. Kaduna, Jos, and Kano are places you would be eager to visit in the past. Right from inception, the tradition in the NYSC was that corps members were posted to places other than their states of origin and everybody gladly took the posting, believing that one was serving his fatherland and contributing his own quota to the development of the nation. Then, a corps member was recognised and respected wherever he was posted.Mere seeing a corps member in his kits naturally drew some awe in his favour as members of the community were always ready to assist him if necessary. Except death naturally came calling, the demise of a corps member through extraneous circumstances was a rare occurrence. With this sense of unfettered security, it didn't matter where one was posted. One just took his luggage, boarded a vehicle and travelled straight to the orientation camp with all enthusiasm. But all this is now history. In recent times, corps members from the southern part of the country have met their untimely death in the hands of heartless terrorists and other vagabonds in the North without any justifiable reason other than sheer hatred. The horrendous slaughtering of Mr. Adeleke from Ibadan in Plateau State and the merciless butchering of the 10 corps members from the south in Bauchi, respectively are cases in point. The Bauchi massacre could be described as a crass exhibition of barbarity in that the heinous crime was hatched and executed in broad daylight with the deceased's uniforms well fitted on their bodies before they were slaughtered. And while the killings were going on, their killers were dancing 'for having made a good outing'. What a horrible and pathetic scene that sadly and unbelievably took place while the deceased were performing a national assignment - INEC job! It is even worrying that the killing as it were had some dirty smell of ethnic sentimentality and pitiably enough, what the parents of the deceased got in return for all the assault were a token sum and pieces of oration from some official quarters laden as usual with distasteful refrain - 'we are sorry, it is the will of God,' as if God wills anything evil. In the midst of this tempestuous atmosphere, for how long do we continue to deceive ourselves as a people, calling white black, pretending that nothing is wrong when the truth is that almost everything is in disarray' For instance, with the present security challenges, do the authorities at the NYSC have any moral right to post corps members of southern origin to the war prone areas in the North' Definitely no because they (NYSC) cannot guarantee the safety of corps members moreso when events in recent times have shown that on many occasions the security equipment/personnel available were not always adequate to cope with the enormity of the security challenges to the extent that security agents attimes took to their heels when the heat was too tense and death became imminent. We cannot afford to toy with the lives of our young men and women from the university any further. The situation goes beyond mere rhetoric and empty boast. The South has had enough taste of bitter experience of the senseless killings of its corps members posted to the North and it does not want the toll to increase. The only way to prevent an increase in toll is to step forth with the continued posting of corps members from the south to the hot spots in the North. I mean those places that the terrorists and the tribal warlords have turned to hot spots as a result of their diabolic activities. The other time, the NYSC Director-General (DG) was quoted as saying that the corps members who reported at Bauchi orientation camp were patriotic. The army general should be told that that was not patriotism. It was submission to a higher authourity when there was no better option. If the people he was addressing had had the opportunity of making their choices; VERY NEGLIGIBLE number would have chosen to serve in Bauchi State. So what a point was the DG trying to make' The purpose of this write-up is to call on our sitting governors from the South-West that they should not keep quiet over a serious issue as this. They should tell the authorities at the NYSC to stop posting corps members from the south west to the war prone areas in the North in spite of the good counsel by well meaning Nigerians including members of the House of Representatives, that posting of corps members by the NYSC should be carefully handled and in consideration of all the above mentioned reasons. A Yoruba adage says that if one keeps quiet over his problem the problem will overwhelm him. The governors should not keep aloof or feel unconcerned. They should let it be known that our children should be posted to anywhere EXCEPT where their safety CANNOT be guaranteed. As an end note to this write-up, we respectfully draw the attention of our excellencies from the south west to the fact that their political benefactors/mentors whose virtues and principles they all claim to emulate, would never have kept silent at a time like this during their lifetime. We mean people like our legendary and highly courageous Obafemi Awolowo, the irrepressible Adekunle Ajasin and the dogged, blunt and highly principled Abraham Adesanya to mention but a few. They were leaders in their own right who bestrode the terrain like colossus and whose voices carried big weight and would not hesitate to do anything possible in championing the cause of the people they led. We still remember them for their deed. Let our sitting governors take a cue from these past heroes and hit the ground running as they cannot afford to delay action. Fayemi, former state Director, Code of Conduct Bureau, wrote in from Ibadan
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