In reaction to the mounting controversy over a “so called security guide from NYSC on parents to prepare money for kidnappers for their wards going for mobilization”, the leading civil rights advocacy group; Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has faulted unscrupulous individuals who are doing everything possible to discredit or even scrap one of the most successful public institutions; the National Youth Service Corps Scheme (NYSC).
In a statement signed by the National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA expressed worries that a programme, which serves as a bridge between school and real-life of work is battling cocktails of lies, half-truths and speculations orchestrated to sow seeds of doubts and anxiety in the minds and hearts of Nigerians.
“On Thursday, September 23, 2021 a page purportedly containing the advice for the corps and staff on reaching out to the family and friends when plying such routes that the NYSC described as “high risk” had flooded the social media.
“The handbook, which is titled; “Security Awareness and Education Handbook For Corps Members and Staff,” on its page 56, purportedly advised both corps members and staff travelling on “high-risk” roads to alert their family members, friends and colleagues to have someone on hand to pay off the ransom that could be demanded in case they are kidnapped.
“Luckily, the proactive managers of the NYSC have also ably provided responses to this scandal by elements who are assiduously working behind the scenes to sacrifice NYSC to appease their instincts”.
Quoting a statement issued on Friday, which stated that ‘the attention of Management of the National Youth Service Corps has been drawn to a fake release making the rounds on the social media to the effect that Corps Members travelling on ‘high risk roads’ should alert their families, friends and colleagues in order to have somebody to pay off the ransom that could be demanded in the event of being kidnapped’, HURIWA was pleased that the NYSC had described the clause in circulation as the handiwork of mischief-makers.
Continuing, HURIWA enumerated the many lies about the NYSC recently and the responses the management has provided to them which in the rights group estimation are factual and correct. “In July 2021, the National Youth Service Corps, alleged that the reported story that 544 corps members were killed in the Northeast and Northwest in 2021 was nothing but junk journalism and blackmail by a section of the media.
“In the report, the NYSC was also accused of risking the lives of 9,100 corps members deployed to the seven states in the North-West region; where at least, 189 persons have been killed and 376 persons were abducted in Zamfara and Kaduna states alone.
“Reacting to two reports, the NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations; Adenike Adeyemi (Mrs), alleged that the unsubstantiated reports were published to create apprehension in the minds of parents, guardians and other stakeholders.
“Again, on August 5th 2021, the National Youth Service Corps described as untrue claims of COVID-19 positive corps members. The organisation said there were no COVID-19 positive corps members in any of the 37 NYSC orientation camps nationwide. The NYSC Director, Press and Public Relations; Adenike Adeyemi, made the clarification in a statement in Abuja wherein she clarified that there is no red alert in NYSC orientation camps, as all corps members, as well as camp officials admitted in the camps are COVID-19 negative.
“Also, there was a certain disturbing effort to spread some toxic rumours that the DG of NYSC was against Christian worships within the NYSC Camps. Ironically, the Director General, though a sound and good Moslem is married to a Roman Catholic Christian adherent and so cannot possibly be categorized as a hater of Christians”, HURIWA highlighted.
Furthermore, HURIWA asserted that that these regime of rumours targeted at the NYSC which are meant to sow a sort of anxiety in the minds and hearts of Nigerians are really not strange. This is because educational institutions and certificate-awarding professional bodies such as the NYSC have been platforms some politicians manipulate to forge certificates to meet essential conditions of qualification and eligibility to hold public office.
“But much as Nigerian politicians dread the disgraceful outcomes of certificate forgery upon discovery, the habit is still pervasively endemic in the polity. The hapless ones have been caught, time and time again. But others have escaped or still dodging the eagle eyes of the law and have continued to roam the corridors of power with mercurial elegance”.
While noting that certificate forgery has become an unfairly massive trend among some Nigerian politicians, HURIWA explained that they always get caught, especially when NYSC is factored into the forgery racket, as it has always refused to bulge to inducements.
“That is the mystery and credibility of NYSC which dubious characters today are finding it extremely difficult to penetrate or manipulate to their favour. And there are many such veiled violators of the sanctity of the NYSC in the corridors of power who are dead scared of the next action which might consume and throw them out of their juicy positions. So, they have waged war against NYSC’s continued existence.
“If Nigerians recollect vividly, about five months ago, a member of the Federal House Representatives; Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante from Rivers state, backed by co-travellers moved to cause a scrapping of the NYSC scheme citing spurious, hollow and comedic reasons for the action.
“Nigerians rose in unanimous uproar and objections. Abiante’s dream to edge the NYSC out of relevance and save the scheme’s certificate forgers from any nightmare, crashed after the obnoxious bill reached the second reading.
However, HURIWA observed that some political elements are still very energetic, tireless and have continued to explore unimaginable fields in the desire to conquer at all cost. Therefore, the rights group is of the firm belief that the whole drama of the spread of fake news and rumors exudes with manifestation the orchestrated plots, and a carefully crafted agenda in the aggressive pursuit of the destruction of the shadows of NYSC scheme in order to cripple it’s efficacy or render it legally impotent requirement in public service.
“The high and mighty who did not participate in the NYSC scheme, and haunted by the phobia of Kemi Adeosun’s fate befalling them in the nearest future and possibly, send them packing from public office are leaving nothing to chance. They are still assiduously working behind the scenes to sacrifice NYSC to appease their instincts and protect their offices.
“Incidentally, the incumbent NYSC Director-General; Brigadier Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim is more determined than any of his predecessors in fighting the menace of fake NYSC certificates. He actually started fighting this forgery syndicate about two years back by blocking fake results holders from being called to orientation camp, after flushing out internal collaborators”.
Beyond this, HURIWA identified that though the task of galvanizing the interest of the youths and strategically re-channel them to national pursuits that will culminate in development and national integration, thus setting the pace for a violence free Nigeria is arguably complex and challenging, Brig. Gen. Ibrahim has remained focused in actualising his vision for the scheme’s mandate through his policies.
“Since assuming office on the 19th day of May, 2019, he has proactively steered the national integration and youth development visions of the founding fathers of the NYSC scheme through pro-activeness, passion, motivation, teamwork, communication, objectives and fashioning out new vistas of engagement through encouraging innovation and creativity to reach a desired goal.
“His vision and ambition aimed at repositioning the scheme for continued relevance of the scheme in developing the Nigerian youths and in bridging the inter-ethnic and religious divides in Nigeria had informed his decision to initiate a five-point policy thrust upon assumption of office.
“Based on his five policy thrust, the Director General has continued to advance his commitment to addressing the challenges of relevance of the NYSC in a fast-changing world, which include inadequate motivation and welfare for Corps Members and staff of the Scheme; and unemployment among the youths after the mandatory one year national service”, HURIWA asserted.
Conclusively, HURIWA called on those who want the NYSC scheme dead to turn a new leaf as Nigerians will never allow anyone who is afraid of the successes of the NYSC to kill the scheme.
COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO:
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA). SEPTEMBER 27TH 2021.