Secure lives of NYSC members or scrap the programme (2)

Aliya Moses
3 Min Read

In 2019, Magdalene Yohanna collapsed at the NYSC Wailo camp, in Ganjuwa LGA, Bauchi State and later died a few minutes after she was rushed to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi. She was reported to have been compelled to participate in a task even after complaining of ill-health.

In the same year, 27-year-old Lillian Mgbanwa was raped and murdered in Imo State only a few days to the completion of her programme. In 2015, Hope Akpan was killed in Ezuhu, Umuhu, Okwuato community in Aboh Mbaise.

In 2012, 24-year-old Augusta Chizoba Ndukwu of Umufu-Amaimo in Ikeduru LGA, Imo State, was murdered by unknown persons at Upper Iweka area of Onitsha, Anambra State.

In 2011, after the presidential election in April, nine corps members; Adewumi Seun (Ekiti), Teidi Tosin (Kogi), Adowei Elliot (Bayelsa), Okpokiri Obinna (Abia), Gbenjo Ayotunde (Osun), Ukeoma Chibuzor (Imo), Nwazema Chukwuonyerem (Imo), Adeniji Jehleel (Osun) and Akonyi Sule (Kogi), were killed by a mob in Bauchi.

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The NYSC programme was set up in 1973 by the Nigerian government as one of the means of healing the wounds of the civil war and promoting national unity. Since it was established, graduates of universities and polytechnics have been required to take part in the programme for one mandatory year.

The relevant question to ask is whether the NYSC programme has so far been able to fulfill its objective in the past 50 years since it was created. As they say in Latin, Res ipsa loquitur: ‘The facts speak for themselves’. Today, Nigeria is more divided than a decade ago, especially since after the highly divisive 2023 general election which alienated majority of the same youths for whom the NYSC programme was meant.

Nigerians can no longer afford to continue to use their children as sacrificial animals for a programme that has, for more than half a century, failed to achieve its aim, and for a country whose leaders only pay lip service to its unity.

The Federal Government has a constitutional duty to protect the lives and property of her citizens and all law-abiding persons who live within her territory. The government has even greater obligations to ensure that the youths who it sends out to different parts of the country for a national service are safe throughout the programme.

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As at today, there is nothing on ground to suggest that the NYSC programme will no longer claim the precious lives of our young people. If the Federal Government cannot find ways to keep these youths safe while undergoing the programme, the NYSC should be scrapped.

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