We Won’t Stop Corps Members From Partaking In Elections --- Olawumi

By Kenneth Orusi

Despites the deaths of members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the course of serving their fatherland by helping to serve as adhoc staff with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct elections in Nigeria, such deaths resulting from such humanitarian/voluntary services are not sufficient to stop Corp members from part taking in elections in the country, the Director-General (DG), of the scheme, Brigadier General Johnson Olawumi has said.

The NYSC DG stated this while speaking with journalists in Illah, Oshimili North local government area of Delta State when he paid a condolence visit to the family of late Samuel Chukwudumebi Okonta, the Corp member who lost his life after playing his part at the re-run elections in Rivers State.

“From the account received so far, he completed the exercise without any problem, he submitted report and he was just on his way back home. So, I don’t think it is sufficient that because of this we should stop Corp members from taking part in election. Some of them it is taking part in this elections that they come to know what election is all about in Nigeria”, revealing that about 6, 800 Corp members were deployed to participate in that election.

Olawumi said, “most of these young men and women this stipends from INEC means a lot to them, when I go to the camp to talk to them, the moment I get to the aspect of election and I say most of you will be part of the election wherever you will be deployed, you need to see how they jump up. So, they are so happy that they want to be part of the electoral process and of course, some of them, the little stipends they get means a lot to them”, he reiterated.

According to him, “should we say because people die in motor accident, we shouldn’t enter vehicle again? We will continue to block all the gaps, strengthen our MoU with INEC, intensify our collaboration with security agencies, we will see how we can take advantage of technology to drive what we do so that we can guarantee their safety and security”.

He pointed out that if Corp members do not participate in elections, it would be other Nigerians that would also part take in the elections, “So, if anything happens to them is it because they are not Corp members”?

He said the concern of Nigerians should be the safety of whoever is participating in elections, “the sad aspect is that they are serving their country and that is why we feel that when somebody is serving in your community, you owe him a duty to protect such a Corp member”.

The NYSC boss noted, “We have set up an investigative committee to thoroughly find out the circumstances that led to the death of the Chukwudumebi, as we speak they are working with the DSS, police and army. Don’t forget that when that incidence happened the army and the police moved to the area and they searched the entire bush around the area and that was led to getting the other two Corp members who were with him when that incidence happened”.

Meanwhile, a serving Corp member (name withheld) told reporters that the sudden dismissal of his colleague was a very painful one, “we have been so sad about that”, noting that, “from what I have seen so far, there is no security in any election in Nigeria, especially the young ones they use; we the Corp members.

According to the Corp member, “almost all the elections they do in Nigeria, we hear that one Corp member die. From my own point of view, I think INEC should change the idea of using the Corpers, they are not secured, stating that with the security deployed to Rivers State was enough to calm every situation down “but nothing still happened, I don’t think Corp members should be used. They should look for other ways, if they will use their own staff, they know how to do that because every time this happens a graduate dies, somebody that have finished everything. It doesn’t make sense, people keep on dying because we want to make Nigeria better”, he lamented.