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NYSC: thank you Reps

| July 17, 2012 More

THE House of Representatives is gradually living up to its name. Since Hon. Waziri Tambuwal took over as the Speaker a little over a year ago, this chamber, formerly more renowned for its corruption, scandals and disgraceful scuffles over money and power which, during the Patricia Etteh-gate led to the death of Hon. Aminu Safana (a medical doctor) is gradually undergoing self-redemption.

Yes indeed, the scandals have continued, with some House committees sent to probe sleazy deals also soiling their fingers, as in the cases of Herman Hembe and Farouk Lawan. But the House has increasingly gone to extraordinary lengths to respond to the yearnings of the Nigerian public. For instance, it had to reconvene from recess twice over the petrol subsidy nationwide strike and the subsequent Lawan Farouk bribery scandal in line with public outcry.

The most recent act of heroism (by my own description) was the role the House played in safeguarding the lives of thousands of young Nigerian graduates of tertiary institutions who are currently being posted to serve the nation in accordance with the law. It took the fatherly intervention of the House of Reps before the Directorate of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) yielded to commonsense and rescinded its cold-blooded decision to send these vulnerable youth in harm’s way.

Before the Reps overwhelmingly passed a motion asking the NYSC to hold action on sending corps members to the states of the north troubled by terrorism and sectarian violence, officials of the NYSC had insisted on following what they called “the law” and “due process” in the postings to Borno, Yobe, Bauchi, Gombe, Plateau, Kano and Kaduna States.

They offered the weak excuse that governors of these states had assured of the safety of corps members! They did not disclose in concrete terms what steps were taken, and in what ways such steps have protected the ordinary citizens of these states from being killed or maimed by terrorists. Governors who cannot even guarantee their own safety with their security votes would have us believe they could guarantee those of total strangers! Some of them had cowered and begged the terrorists for mercy, opting to blackmail the federal government into “dialogue” with a group whose latest thrill is to bomb Christians while worshipping in church on Sundays.

It would seem that some of these governors and some wicked elements from the northern parts of the country derive sick, hidden pleasure in seeing people from other parts of the country murdered in cold blood in their areas by the al majiris who are raised in dirty hovels to see these young strangers from other parts of the country as “unbelievers”. How else can one rationalise the inciting dismissal of the killing of youth corps members after the election of 2011 as their “destiny” by Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State? He is one of the governors requesting for another batch of corps members to come to Bauchi to once again meet their “destiny”.

When Hon. Peter Edeh representing Ebonyi State introduced the motion to suspend the posting of corps members to the troubled states, Ahmed Kaita (Katsina) and Kaka Kyari Gujbawu (Borno) argued against it, on the ground that it would go against the philosophy of the Scheme! To them, it is no longer the sanctity of life that matters but the sanctity of “philosophy”!

A reversed situation

After all, corps members from their own parts are safe and sound in the south. Assuming the situation were reversed and northern youth corps members are being slaughtered in the south, or that people of the south took up reprisal actions against northern corps members in their midst, would Yuguda, Kaita and Gujbawu still argue the same way?

The answer is clearly a big NO! These bloodthirsty politicians can afford to mount their provocative argument because they know that no culture in southern Nigeria would touch a single hair on the heads of northern corps members in their midst no matter the provocation. It is simply unthinkable. Perhaps, it is this assurance that emboldens wicked-minded politicians to toy with the patience of decent people.

It is very gratifying that, at least, our representatives showed up just when their intervention was most needed. One would have thought, after the tragic killings of last year the NYSC would need no one to tell them to take maximum care in their postings of this year, ensuring that safety of the corps members would override every other consideration, especially this year when Boko Haram terrorism is targeting schools, markets, churches and even military and paramilitary installations and personnel (which includes youth corps members).

When they failed to take the precaution, it was surprising that no state governor raised his voice against sending corps members from their states to the flashpoint states of northern Nigeria. Fathers and mothers allowed their children to leave home to the slaughter slab without raising a voice of concern. Students unions and old students associations of universities kept mute and not a single human rights group showed up at the Maitama Abuja premises of the NYSC headquarters with placards. No lawyer sued or even sought an injunction against sending our young people to die.

On behalf of thousands of the youth corps members whose lives have been spared by this singular act of concern and patriotism I say a big thank you to the honourable members of the House of Representatives! Please keep it up.

Category: Bauchi State News

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