Saturday, 30 April 2011

Open Letter: “In Honour Of Slain NYSC Members”

Fashola: Lagos State Governor
Your Excellency Sir,
Spaces for Change(S4C)welcomes your recent dedication of your victory at the just-concluded gubernatorial polls to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members who lost their lives in the service of this nation during the post-presidential election violence that broke out in the northern part of the country. We also salute the efforts of the Lagos State government to evacuate corps members who were entrapped in troubled spots, and had remained targets of the raging post-election violence.

Over the past week, parents, friends, relations, guardians and all well meaning Nigerians were thrown into a mournful mood following the unprovoked and unjustifiable attacks on these innocent citizens while on duty to their fatherland. As many of them that were cut down in their prime, had great career dreams and fine intentions of serving this country in various bigger capacities. Beyond the news reportage in the print and electronic media, several corroborated private accounts of eye witnesses narrate how some of these corp members were murdered in cold blood. Some were shot, stabbed to death and in several cases, butchered. Some were burnt after being killed. These harrowing accounts have precipitated anger, grief, trauma, strong feelings of insecurity among Nigerians, and in particular influenced calls from various quarters for a total overhaul of the NYSC programme. It is important to add that the recent killings are the latest in the string of violent attacks repeatedly targeted at the youth participating in the compulsory service scheme. 

S4C continues to condemn in strong terms, these killings of Nigerian youths and the sponsors of the election-related bloodbath that spread across many northern states. S4C has also appealed to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,  and Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor  Attahiru Jega to take immediate and very urgent steps towards addressing the crucial subject of Nigeria’s national security, especially as regards guaranteeing the safety of the NYSC members currently serving as INEC’s ad-hoc staff.

As an important step towards breathing life into the dedication of your victory to the slain heroes, S4C humbly presents the following recommendations for your urgent consideration:

To work closely with the Federal Government, especially the NYSC authorities to document and establish the identities of all the youth corps members that lost their lives during the mayhem.

To see that the families of the slain corp members are adequately compensated. Recognizing that no amount of compensation would restore lives lost or make up for the incalculable human and material losses, S4C views compensation as an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and a representation of political will to redress those wrongs. Compensation may also take the form of assuming responsibility for the tertiary education of siblings of the deceased corp members, or anyone nominated by their families.

To set the pace for other Nigerian states by being the first to set up a NYSC Human Security Trust Fund directed towards the making of special security and welfare provisions for NYSC members serving in Lagos State.  The fund shall place priority on putting in place, adequate social, economic and physical infrastructure for protecting corp members in conflict and difficult situations who are exposed to physical and sexual violence, discrimination, exclusion, unsafe working conditions and natural disasters.

To support S4C’s recommendation to the Federal Government to set aside the April 16 of every year as the Slain Heroes Remembrance Day to venerate the patriotic lives of these young citizens sacrificed at the altar of Nigeria’s nascent democracy.

S4C remains hopeful that you would consider, and take urgent steps towards the implementation of these recommendations as part of efforts to minimize the casualties associated with the NYSC programme.

A new Nigeria bound in freedom, peace and unity is possible.

Yours Sincerely,
Spaces for Change(S4C)

Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri