Still on the Matter: It’s too early to be silent about #NYSCAbuse

Ifedolapo Oladepo, Corper who died in NYSC Camp, Kano

The problem in Nigeria is that we easily forget. Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka once accused us of being a people beguiled with some manner amnesia. It was a far different matter from the death of youth corps members that the Professor was talking about but we find it appropriate.

Just last month, there was a wave of deaths across the National Youth Service Corps Orientation camps in the country. Three of them were notable and made it to the news long enough to gain a hashtag, the new brand identifier of causes. For these dead corps members, the country coined #NYSCAbuse.

Ifedolapo Oladepo, a Transport Management first class graduate had lost her life while enduring her 3-week term at the Kano state orientation camp. Elechi Chiyerom died at the Bayelsa camp the same week and on Monday of the following week, Udeme Monday lost his own life at the Zamfara camp.

There was public outrage. People posted threads about their own #NYSCAbuse stories. The legislators acted concerned for all of one public statement calling for the prosecution of the Director-General of the Corps. Then finally, after almost two weeks, the Federal government reacted by promising to conduct investigations into one of the deaths, the most painful one, Ifedolapo’s.

Oyeyode Abimbola Inioluwa, Ifedolapo’s mother wrote on her Facebook wall after she died that her daughter was left unattended to by camp officials who thought she was feigning illness to avoid attending the usual parade:

“You called me five hours to your death and told me to start coming as the NYSC doctors are not doing anything for you. They thought you were pretending you did not want to go for parade so they did not attend to you. When you started calling people from home they eventually gave you an injection. Immediately after the injection you called me again that you noticed a lot of rashes on your body that I should speak with the doctor who refused to talk to me. You called five minutes later and told me your tongue is twisting. They sent all your friends out after seeing all the reaction on your body after giving you the unknown injection. You said we should ask for flight and I called immediately, they told me Abuja flight is Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I told you to tell anybody in the clinic that I am a nurse, and they should allow me to speak to them. A male nurse took the phone from you and told me you are having anaphylactic reaction and they will watch you for just one hour and transfer you to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital.

But alas they did not transfer you until 5hours later wen they noticed you were restless and calling people at home. I boarded a bus going to Kano with your sister Kemisola Oladepo to come pick you from there, I begged them to take you to a teaching hospital around but they took you to General hospital, Gwazo where they have nothing or little care to render. They took your phone from you claiming you are not resting. From that 5pm I could not talk to you, I took a 16-hour journey to make sure I get to you. But I was called around 3am that you gave up, without any doctor in the hospital to assist you, the only nurse on duty told me she tried her best, her best of staying beside you when death was taking you away because there was nothing to use. From that 3am till I got to Kano I was hoping it will only be a mix up somewhere. It can’t be you, I got to Kano and met you at Aminu Kano mortuary, alas it was you being put in that cold place. Amokkkkkeeeeeeeeee mi you couldn’t withstand the agony, NYSC successfully cut your destiny due to negligence.”

It was the most painful thing to read and it sparked just enough public outrage to get the President to express the routine sadness about her death and also order an independent probe to find the cause of her death.

Aweek later, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung came out with findings absolving the National Youth Service Corps of any faults. No surprises there.

Last week, the findings from a Police investigation into the same death of Ifedolapo was released, this one indicting the NYSC. The probe was conducted by the Special Investigation Panel headed by a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Ali Amodu and it was based on medical files of the deceased, including evidence from the NYSC officials and the medical personnel at the hospital where Oladepo was certified dead.

This new report found that “her situation had become unmanageable before she was brought to the General Hospital and that was why they couldn’t manage her any longer” – a far cry from what the NYSC findings revealed when they sais that “there was no delay in referring the deceased to the secondary hospital when the Camp clinic Doctors found that her case was beyond what could be managed in the Camp clinic.”

This is only one of the major contradictions between the two reports but why is the public outcry that will allow our leaders continue to take the matter seriously? A new stream of corps members will be sent to various states for their 3 weeks on orientation camps this month and if we can’t ensure that proper closure is given to the dead ones, we can at least put enough pressure to ensure this is not repeated.

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