It is indeed a mourning and sober reflection period for the National Youth Service Corps members who lost some of their hardworking, selfless and innocent colleagues to the cold hands of death during the recent post election violence in Nigeria.
As a serving youth corps member, I was moved to tears to see pictures of my late colleagues who were killed while serving our fatherland in the media. This calamity is obviously a man-made disaster similar to the incessant bomb-blasts and militant’s activities in some part of the country
The response of Director General of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Brigadier-General Ismaila Tsiga is quite commendable; he berated some State Governors, especially the ones in whose states the corps members were killed in post-presidential election violence and give staunch warning on doing whatever it takes to defend members of the NYSC.
It is unfortunate as the NYSC boss noted that some state governments where the corps members were killed failed in their responsibilities of protecting the young graduates posted to assist in the development of their states.
The fact remains that as much as youth corps members are still willing to serve in states other than their states of origin, such targeted attacks are worrisome and embarrassing. Even without basic facilities and other incentives, corps members are virtually rendering free services in the scheme designed to strengthen national unity and accelerated development in their host communities.
It is necessary to point out that the joy of NYSC members is not on the meager allowance that is given as stipends, as most of the NYSC members including those that served as INEC officials and some of us still serving National Youth Vanguard on Emergency Management, a programme of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) are doing it with pride and taking risk in ensuring that our communities live peacefully and safely.
The contributions of NYSC members during the last elections were exemplary and commendable, it is worthy to note that some powerful forces and undesirable elements might have intimidated some of them; they still contribution to the fatherland. This shall remain evergreen in our memory.
It is a welcome development the federal government’s position, especially when President Goodluck Jonathan in his nationwide broadcast warned that killing NYSC members would no longer be tolerated and that state governors where they are serving must take personal responsibility for their safety.
While I wish to encourage our elders, politicians, clerics, media and public officers to treat NYSC members with the respect they deserve, I believe most of us serving in the NYSC scheme would continue to render selfless service and contribute meaningful to the development of our fatherland.
We would not allow the antics and misbehavior of miscreants and undesirable elements to defeat the spirit behind the establishment of the National Youth Service Corps scheme.
To the families of my late colleagues, I commiserate with them over the irreparable loss. But they should remember that they would forever be regarded as heroes of our national democracy. They died in active service; in the course of ushering in a new era in Nigeria.
We beg of the rioters to please think properly before acting; peace is the way, violence is never the answer; the situation has shaped the feeling of foreigners towards Nigeria; we do not want to be portrayed as divided or seen as people who have no respect for lives, especially the lives of their youths. Good image matters in every place and at every time.
By Tola Ojo, Batch C NYSC member, NEMA HQ, Abuja.