by Hauwa Gambo
The coalition of groups behind #ProtectTheCorpers,m formed in the wake of the killing of young National Youth Service Corps members in the North has called on the Federal Government and the Government of Rivers State to give the nation a report on the whereabouts of the kidnapped corps members in the state and the plans to get them to their families safe.
“Tomorrow, the 16th of June, is the passing out parade for the 2010 Batch B Corps Members, and more than once week since Olumide Yusuf and 4 other female corps members were kidnapped from Community Secondary School in Omademe village Ikwerre LGA of Port Harcourt, Rivers State,” said Chude Jideonwo, of The Future Project. “The matter of kidnapping is one of general national concern and is not specifically an NYSC issue, and as such we had hoped, as with all Nigerians, the government would decisively tackle this development, but we are alarmed that about ten days later, these young helpless people serving their nation are yet to be found!”
The coalition described as “unconscionable”, the fact that expatriates and prominent Nigerians happen to find freedom based on the negotiation and activities of various government functionaries, but in this case there has been a surprising national silence.
“This comes as we should be gladded by news that the Federal Government for acceding to the first of its seven demands for short-term measures to guarantee the safety and security of young Nigerians under the National Youth Service Scheme,” said Yemi Adamolekun of the EnoughisEnough movement.
“The number one demand was for the government to “Identify violence-prone “hot-spots” states and/or districts and ensure that corps member posting to these areas is voluntary. This voluntary posting must also come with an institutionalised incentive. In news reports last Friday, Gabriel Ibe, the Oyo State Coordinator of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), announced that the NYSC management will no longer post corps members to crisis prone areas in the country; revealing that each state coordinator has been so directed and the directive will take effect with the next deployment of corps members on July 7.”
This sad development follows the conclusion of the coalition’s petition drive. It will be recalled that the call for signatures for the formal petition to be forwarded to the Presidency and the Ministry for Youth Development was brought to a successful close after the petition was brought to the attention of the President at his pre-inauguration meeting with young Nigerian leaders and groups. The coalition extracted a commitment from the President to speed up the process of reforming the youth corps scheme amid a directive to his Minister for Youth Development who was also present at the meeting.
“Unfortunately,” said Samuel Joseph, who is project manager of this campaign, “This is now two steps backwards. The continued kidnap is a national disgrace. Reform of the NYSC is a long term project that involves thought, strategy perspective true – but in the meantime, we demand that President Goodluck Jonathan as the Chief Security Officer of the nation be seen as doing everything in its power immediately, to free these young people. At this point, nothing matters more.”
The coalition behind #ProtectTheCorpers is led by The Future Project, and includes SleevesUp Nigeria, the National Youth Council, AIESEC, EnoughisEnoughNigeria, NigeriaVillageSquare.com, Friends of Aik and Paradigm Initiative Nigeria.
More information is on www.thefuturenigeria.com/protectthecorpers.