SLAIN CORPERS: REVIEVED NYSC POLICY NOW
The persistent calls on the Federal Government to either review, or completely scrap the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme may not be misplaced after all. But the Government and other stakeholders must exercise caution on the practical modalities for resolving the burning issues thrown up by the killings of 10 corps members deployed by INEC for this year's general elections.
Originally, the NYSC is an organisation set up by the Gowon military regime in 1973. Also known as the compulsory national service, it was designed to involve the country's graduates for a year, towards the social, economic, educational, cultural development and integration of the diverse parts of the country.
However, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), in conjunction with the NYSC Management to engage and train corps members as adhoc electoral officers for the elections.
The novel development in the nation's political landscape, which many including the international world had hailed as the right step in the right direction.
Moreover, it is believed by many, that such young Nigerians, majority of who are serving outside their states of origin and bubbling with vigour might not be as corrupt as the old folks, many of whom supposedly have one vested political interest, agenda motive and party affiliation or another.
Nevertheless, the story suddenly changed for the worse days into the polls. Notwithstanding the previous bomb blasts that devastated the INEC office in Suleja, Niger State, and parts of Maiduguri, Borno State, on the eve of the first in the series elections, killing and maiming a number of electoral officers, including cops members, hell was once more, let loose immediately Prof. Jega announced Jonathan as the winner of the election.
Sadly, scores of these vibrant, educated and promising young population posted to and serving their fatherland in Northern states readily became the target of mobs of irate yet illiterate, jobless and impoverished youths, who unleashed terror on the populace, including the serving corpers resulting in killings, burning of houses, vehicles, business premises and churches. In the ensuing confusion and volatile atmosphere up North, 10 NYSC members were cut down in their prime in Bauchi, Their bodies were conveyed back to their respective states for burial; even as about 3,000 corps were stranded at an Army barracks in Bauchi for days.
Also, about 50 members were reported to have been rescued alive from the secretariat of the Nigerian Christian Corpers' Fellowship (NCCF), fondly called the 'Family House' by corps members, where a new 18-seater bus belonging to the fellowship was burnt. They had earlier been locked up to be burnt in the secretariat before help swiftly came their way!
Thus, because of the socio-political peculiarities of Nigeria, all the stakeholders especially those calling for the outright scrapping of the scheme should remember the core objective of the scheme: that young people of other tribes, social and family backgrounds will learn the cultures of the indigenes in the places to which they are posted to serve towards ensuring peaceful co-existence and unity among Nigerians.
Many corpers are seeking redeployment from the north while some states actually repatriated their indigenes. Despite this rising and untoward development, there is the need to review of the laws establishing the NYSC.
With a combination of moral suasion to appeal to the consciences of the diverse sections of the populace a on the need to live together as one indivisible socio-political entity and clearly stipulate sanctions against any troublemakers and their sponsors, the government at all levels must consciously institutionalise responsible, responsive and purposeful leadership.
Kayode is a media professional and CEO, Wordkraft Communications Limited, Lagos.