Bulwark Intelligence

Deaths In NYSC Camps: Need For Proper Investigation

Recently, the nation witnessed the deaths of two youth corps members: Miss Ifedolapo Amoke Oladapo who reportedly collapsed during a training session at the Kano orientation camp and gave up the  ghost shortly afterwards, a development that was reportedly attributed to lack of proper medical attention and proactive action by the NYSC camp officials, who…

NYSC

Recently, the nation witnessed the deaths of two youth corps members: Miss Ifedolapo Amoke Oladapo who reportedly collapsed during a training session at the Kano orientation camp and gave up the  ghost shortly afterwards, a development that was reportedly attributed to lack of proper medical attention and proactive action by the NYSC camp officials, who were said to have ignored earlier complaints by the deceased that she was indisposed and needed urgent medical attention and treatment.

Also Mr. Ukeme Monday, another youth corp member, also died at the  Zamfara orientation camp from yet to be ascertained causes. These unfortunate incidents have raised tension, hostility and a palpable feeling of ire and consternation throughout the orientation camps as other corps members have singled out poor living conditions, a patently  unhygienic environment, lack of constant power and water supply and the negligent and indifferent attitude of the camp authorities as factors that have impacted negatively on their orientation experience and activities.

Apart from those orientation camps, there are similar examples of such squalid living conditions in other NYSC camps all over the nation, For instance it has been reported that the corps members posted to Yobe and Borno states who could not attend orientation there due to the Boko Haram situation, had to manage facilities at a Bauchi secondary school where the conditions were described as ‘terrible and despicable’ by one aggrieved corps member.

For instance, the Bauchi orientation camp lacked both water and power supply, an acute shortage of mattresses as corps members slept on bare floors with their wrappers and towels while due to the unavailability of functional toilets, piles of discarded human feaces, littered the premises of the ‘camp’ with the stench of urine also permeating the environment.

Most of the corps members have publicly expressed palpable fear of a health epidemic breaking out if the squalid living conditions are not properly addressed and redressed. What is most worrisome about the deplorable living condition of those orientation camps is the fact that while the camp authorities complain about lack of funds, the NYSC authorities at the centre insist that adequate funds have been disbursed for the proper operation and management of the camps. So the question can be succinctly asked ‘where has the money gone?’ or ‘who is fooling who?’

The NYSC situation can be linked to that prevailing in the IDPs camps where money has been deemed allocated for the care and welfare of the IDPs while the facts on ground belie that assertion with thousands of cases of Kwashiokor afflicted children littering the camps with adults, women, youths alike complaining of acute malnutrition and dehydration due to endemic shortage of food, water, medicares and other essentials.

In essence, the avoidable deaths of Miss Ifedolapo Amoke Oladapo and Mr. Ukeme Monday also call to question the future and direction of the NYSC programme in an era where the negative impact of the economic recession has led the authorities to reduce the annual intake of corps members to a quota of eligible graduates. What this quota policy entails is that if a particular university, polytechnic or college of education has say, 100 graduates, the NYSC will accept a particular number while the remaining graduates will have to wait their turn the following year.

The criteria for selecting eligible ones are hazy and rather undefined but it will definitely affect the morale, youthful vigour and zeal of those that may have to wait another year before they have their shot at NYSC service. Their faith and loyalty to the NYSC program might even be negatively affected as they may rightly or wrongly feel that they have been passed over for other colleagues who may possess greater financial or influential clout within and outside the system.

Indeed  for the NYSC scheme to reclaim its past glory, prestige and credibility, there is urgent need for the national authorities to undertake a comprehensive and holistic audit of all the orientation camps, whether  temporary or permanent, in order to unravel the living conditions, the state of the facilities and infrastructure, the level of actual deployment of allocated resources with a view to bringing to book those camp authorities that have been diverting resources meant for the care and welfare of the youth corpers to their private pockets.

The NYSC headquarters needs to declare an emergency in this regard and invite the EFCC, ICPC, Police and other anti-graft agencies to be part of this nationwide audit as it is clear that the NYSC scheme has been hijacked by many officials who see it as more of a call to personal than national service, an opportunity for self-aggrandisement and self actualisation than one of protecting and propagating the interest, welfare and well being of our young, vulnerable and impressionable graduates. Also the tragic deaths of Miss. Ifedolapo Amoke Oladapo and Mr. Ukeme Monday must be thoroughly investigated and not swept under the carpet as any proven case of official neglect, willful apathy and misconduct must be sanctioned and duly prosecuted. Indeed this is the time to cleanse the NYSC Augean stables once and for all.

– Asalu is special assistant to the Hon. Speaker on Student Parliamentary Affairs  

Source:Nigerian News from Leadership News

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