BY NJIDEKA AGBO
Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, founder of Stand To End Rape Initiative (S.T.E.R) is fortunate to be alive. She was raped after she refused to be involved in election malpractice as a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member. “They set a trap for me to be raped by one of the village boys…I had been raped as a virgin. I was angry that society didn’t protect me when all I desired was for the society to be better through credible elections.”
On the other hand, Okonta Samuel Dumebi’s story will only be told orally and in the papers. Okonta, an orphan was murdered in cold blood at Ahoada West LGA in the Rivers state rerun elections after he was made an Ad-hoc staff of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).
When the NYSC was established in 1973, its aim was to foster national unity and encourage common ties among the youth. To achieve this, corp members were posted to different states, given jobs and taught another culture.
However, it has, in recent times, involved corp members in the Nigerian elections. It is appalling that in a country where there is inevitable violence that spreads across the country during this season, fresh graduates are exposed under the guise of obeying the “clarion call.”
If the NYSC fails in its capacity to provide appropriate medical care for corp members in the orientation camps thereby leading to their deaths, how much more an election where even the staff and recently, international observers have been threatened to return as “body bags.”
The times of placing the pictures of the dead in the soon-to-be-forgotten annual magazines of the NYSC is past. If the NYSC believes that it is grooming the youths to be leaders in their various capacity, then it should reconsider this new position it has taken.
We strongly reaffirm the great Bola Ige’s words, “Nigeria is worth living for but I am not so sure it was worth dying for.”