by Nubi Kayode
It was the May 1 edition, and the presenter, Adebola Williams, came into the studio a liitle tired, due to an eventful traditional thanksgiving service. Co-presenter, Shade Ladipo was also in a sober mood, perhaps due to the topic of the show: Protect The Corpers.
Last week, Bauchi state governor Yuguda issued an insensitive statement about the brutal killings of National Youth Service Corps members in his state. His full speech is below:
“As far as I am concerned, these corps members were destined to experience what they experienced during the course of their service to their fatherland because every new day is a new experience to each and every one of us as human beings. You cannot hold Yuguda or Bauchi State (responsible) for what happened to those corps members, because it was the responsibility of INEC to take care of them.”
Expectedly, thousands of Nigerians did not take his statement lightly, especially as he worsened the situation in his attempt to better justify the above statement.
All the guests joined in the conversation, sharing their reactions and thoughts on the state of the NYSC. Guests included: Lala Akindoju (actress), Pastor Aik Onwurah (representative of the Friends of Aik foundation), Oje Ivagba (Youth Development Expert – LEAP Africa), and Collins Eleje (A corps member from Bauchi State).
The lines were also opened to the public to call in and share their thoughts. Adebola put forth the first question “Has the NYSC expired?” and Oje Ivagba responded, speaking on the need for evaluation of the scheme before making any decision. He may have played it safe with his answer, but we can all agree that the NYSC scheme is in need of a review.
Lala shared her experience as a corps member, and said she did want to serve her fatherland but not under those conditions. “Those in the military schools are there by choice, but Corps members go wherever they are sent to involuntarily,” she added.
Shade Ladipo then came on with the next question – “Is the way the NYSC scheme run justified?” The studio was silent for a while before Pastor Aik Onwurah responded with “We need to go to the basics, there is need to define what the NYSC stands for in this age.” There we were again, speaking on the need to ‘review’ the NYSC scheme.
Collins Eleje then shared his experience of the post-election violence in his own local government in Bauchi State. The violence went past killing corps members to include raping and other horrors. “The attack broke out after the president-elect was announced, starting from throwing stones at corp members,” he said. “It then aggravated to burning of houses and churches within a short period of time” – he added.
How did the attackers know the locations of the corpers? It was not hard at all, as Collins said “The same children that we shared food with, pointed us out to be attacked.” After the attack started, some corpers made for the police station, and others were housed by an indigene as the police station was not close to the latter group.
Unfortunately, those who went to the police station only ran into a trap set by the attackers. There was a siege on the station and when the police men had run out of ammunition – tear gas, and bullets – the station was set ablaze, leading to the evacuation of corps members who ran into the waiting blades of the attackers.
The first caller on the show wasted no time, as he skipped introducing himself and bitterly cried about the loss of life in the North, and suggested a break out of the Northern region. I suppose his call was cut off that point, so as not to allow his critical remarks go on air.
So why was Collins the only corps member speaking up? Many other corpers escaped from Bauchi, but as Collins revealed, the corpers have been threatened not to talk to the press, as it would result in the withholding of their NYSC Discharge Certificate which is an important requirement for work in most parts of the country.
Martins from Abuja also called in and reminded Nigerians that this was not the first time the killing of corpers has taken place. He further stated – “Let people serve in their states or region, or where they chose to serve.” The next session was solution-oriented, which Adebola opened saying “The post-NYSC experience kind of negates the usefulness, as [corps members] more hatred [for the program] after service year”.
Shola disagreed saying she had a wonderful experience and loved the people she served with, but she quickly added “The NYSC also has the good, but the bad seems to be outweighing the good.”
Our guests left us with final words:
Oje Ivagba called for unity, love and peace among Nigerians, as it would prevent and avoid conflict.
Collins Eleje asked for review of the scheme, as well as allowing people to serve in their geo-political zones.
Lala Akindoju called for keeping the NYSC Scheme on hold while it’s been reviewed.
Pastor Aik spoke up for justice – bringing culprit the book, as well as the education people in the ‘hot’ zones.
This brought another edition of the Rubbin’ Minds to a close, with presenter Adebola Williams reminding Nigerians to join the camPAIN: #ProtectTheCopers.
You can do this by signing the petition, sharing it with your friends and colleagues and pushing for the 7 point agenda of the NYSC reform. See http://thefuturnigeria.com/protectthecorpers, for more information.