Currently, some groups who think their parochial interests are not served by the present dispensation sanitising the system, are hiring the services of commissioned writers or ‘mercenaries’ to pull down hallowed institutions in the country. The most visibly attacked is the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
These groups have devised different instruments to discredit NYSC, probably because they are not products of the institution or the national service certificates or exemption letters they presented in their various workplaces were obtained from questionable sources, and they are afraid of the law which is likely to catch up with them sooner or later. So the continuous existence of NYSC is a threat to their ambitions.
They had, in the recent past, attempted to use the parliament to achieve their interest unsuccessfully. For example, the NYSC discontinuation bill that had even reached second reading in the House of Representatives in the National Assembly, sponsored by the lawmaker representing Andoni-Opobo/Nkoro federal constituency of Rivers state, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante. In his debate, he said the NYSC has led to the “incessant killing of innocent corps members in some parts of the country due to banditry, religious extremism and ethnic violence; incessant kidnapping of innocent corps members across the country.”
But he failed in his argument because extremism, religious or ethnic violence have no social or age bias.
Now the likes of Abiante are criticising even the scheme for causing deaths of young graduates in a road accident. But how the NYSC caused the accident they could not explain.
Travelling in a vehicle to orientation camps did not start with the ill-fated young graduates. Right from inception, all prospective corps members make provision for their transportation to various orientation camps across the country.
The critics have deliberately overlooked the fact that the NYSC management has been emphasising that corps members should avoid night journey because of the danger associated with it. Accidents are not events that are predetermined. So why would some people revell in mischief?
The bus carrying the young graduates was travelling at night from Uyo to Katsina when the accident occurred along Abuja-Abaji-Kwali expressway. No one knows the road worthiness of the vehicle or under what influence the driver was driving, or the speed at which he drove the ill-fated vehicle.
For his fatherly love, Brig-General Shuaibu Ibrahim directed that all NYSC flags be flown at half-mast, and two-minute silence be observed across all orientation camps during the parade in honour of the deceased. He also said that NYSC management would accord the injured all necessary care and attention, adding that the departed heroes would be considered alongside their colleagues who had already reported to the orientation camp.
Accident, we all know, is an incident that is not predetermined.
But it is unfortunate that one Ogungbile Emmanuel Oludotun, in his article, wrote, “I was really angry that night, so there I was in the middle of the night burning with an intense, deep-seated anger, asking myself the questions of why would the life of such promising young individuals would waste like that in the name of serving one’s father’s land.”
He wrote as if NYSC was the accident itself.
He failed to understand that accident is blind, and also it does not respect social status, parental background age or colour. So anyone could be involved in an accident, the poor or rich, the literate or illiterate, soldier or civilian.
Also he was not aware of the sacrifices that go with service to one’s fatherland. However, in utter confusion, or from personal conviction outside of the pecuniary benefits he would gain from his principal for his writing, he wrote, “NYSC is not a bad scheme, it is one of the most potentially oriented scheme that can grow unity and growth in Nigeria.”
Moreover, NYSC has, at various forums, warned corps members the danger of night travel. No DG has ever talked about corps members’ security and cared about their welfare as being done by Brig-General Ibrahim. As a professor of history, he knows that educating a child in the family is an investment, so he does not joke with the young graduates’ security and welfare under him. As an accomplished soldier, he also knows situations that are likely to put corps members in danger, in this way, he always warns corps members to avoid anything or situation that portends danger to their life.
But his detractors continue their attacks on the NYSC despite his patriotic zeal in managing the scheme he holds in trust for Nigerian youths.
They also lied on social media that 344 corps members were killed in Northwest after a similar lie that 200 corps members were murdered in Northeast had been uncovered and dismissed.
In a swift response, NYSC DG said the report was misleading and a fiction peddled by detractors of the revered institution.
“As earlier stated, every discerning mind knows that story, as well as that of today are both false. No Corps Member deployed to the North-East and North-West geo-political zones of the country was killed, neither was any abducted by bandits in July, 2021, as reported,” DG said.
I think their attacks are exercise in futility as many prominent Nigerians favour the continuation of the scheme, and a cross section of Nigerian youths favours its continuous existence.
Patriotic Nigerians rejoice in the fact that these unprecedented attacks are coming at the time the Nasarawa state-born General is at the helm of affairs. He is a director-general who is well equipped intellectually and militarily to shield Yakubu Gowon House from unpatriotic elements bent on destroying one of the last vestiges of national unity.
Uji, a commentator on national issues, writes from Abuja.