By Luke Onyekakeyah
THE reported disappearance of Miss Bianca Ada Chidi, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, on her way back to Lagos from Ife is heart-rending and lamentable. The family is shocked as to whereabouts of their beloved daughter. The police and indeed the NYSC authorities should, relentlessly, search for the missing young lady and reunite her with her grieving family.
Except Miss Bianca is found, the ugly incident will add to the long list of unfortunate deaths and other mishaps that have, in recent times, befallen innocent youngsters who set out to render service to their fatherland. This is one mishap too many. Something needs to be done to halt the frequent loss of corps members. We cannot continue to lose our youngsters that way.
According to Bianca’s distraught mother, Mrs. Bola Chidi, her 24-year old daughter was returning from Ife on March 16. She called when she got to Ojodu-Berger in Lagos. She called again when she entered a bus going to Iyana Ipaja.
After a while, she called again that she would soon alight at the last bus stop in Iyana-Ipaja, which is close to Abule-Egba their residence.
Thereafter, she waited for 45 minutes but didn’t hear from her. She then decided to call her but her phone was switched off, and ever since then, her phone has remained switched off.
Mrs. Chidi bemoaned that it is now six weeks that they haven’t heard anything from their daughter and she has gone to different police stations to make report and even the IGP/IRT department of police to help track her phone line and investigate the matter but there has been no favourable result.
She said the police has been calling that they are investigating the matter and requesting for money in several tranches but she is not satisfied with their investigation.
At a time, she said they told her that Bianca’s phone was tracked to Abule-Egba of which she expected that to yield some positive result but to her surprise, she was told again that the phone is tracked to Ife.
Mrs. Chidi expressed dismay that the police are unable to unravel the case when it was tracked close to Abule-Egba but instead want to be mobilised to Ife. The question is where is Miss Bianca Ada Chidi? What happened to her? Why is it proving difficult to track her line? Is the innocent young lady going to end up just like that?
I have said this before in this column and would like to repeat it; the rate at which corps members are losing their lives in the course of performing the national service is alarming.
Of late, there has been harvest of deaths of corps members in active service. The rising mortality rate of youth corps members across the federation has become a matter of serious concern. Every now and then, news of corps members missing, kidnapped or being killed make headlines. While some die in the orientation camps, others are killed at their places of primary assignment.
Consequently, the national youth service scheme, which used to be fun at the beginning, is now a nightmare. This frightening development has made parents and guardians think twice as they now see the scheme as posing danger. Many parents are now afraid to allow the children they have suffered to train up to tertiary education embark on a mission that may end in death.
The spate of deaths has made corps members to become endangered species. As the situation is at present, not until a corps member completes the service and returns would the family heave a sigh of relief. Reason is that life could be snuffed out of him/her anywhere, anytime, thereby dashing all the hope reposed on the person by his/her family. There have been cases of families losing the only hope they invested all they have. Such families are perpetually devastated and ruined.
The worsened insecurity in the country has created problems for the scheme. Across the states, death is lurking everywhere – on the highways, orientation camps, and corps member’ quarters, streets, etc. Corps members have also become target of political thuggery. There are kidnappers, ritualists, rapists, among other violent criminals that target corps members.
Whereas Nigerians live with insecurity daily, the case of corps members is worsened by the fact that they are youths sent to unfamiliar environment where they are easily identified and targeted. Most corps members are youngsters that have never left their states. Consequently, hundreds have lost their lives, which would not have been the case if they did not go for national service. The litany of corps members who were killed, strangled, kidnapped or rapped to death is long.
It is about a year ago that I lamented the deaths of a corps member, Fortune Ihechukwu Ihe at the NYSC orientation camp in Sokoto. Fortune, 21, a graduate of economics reportedly, died on 14 April, 2019 while engaged in camp strenuous activities. The youngster was parceled back home to his parents in Imo state dead.
At the funeral held on April 23, at St. Brendan Catholic Church, Amakohia in Ikeduru local government, which I witnessed, the officiating parish priest, Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Edmond Njoku, with three other priests, asked a soul-searching question – Is it wrong for parents to allow their children to go for national service?
In a way, it is now wrong since one would send his son or daughter only to have him killed. Parents of Fortune, Dr.&Mrs. John/Cordelia Ihe, were devastated and inconsolable. At the grave side, emotions ran high that a distraught friend of Fortune, jumped into the grave screaming to be covered along with him. There was consternation in the crowd of sympathizers, as youths pulled him out from the grave.
The question is how many more innocent NYSC members would have to lose their lives before something is done to stop this morbid turn of events? In all of the deaths, the NYSC is economical with the truth of what happened or how the corps member died. Parents are left in the dark.
In the case of Miss Bianca, there is no indication that the NYSC authorities are involved in the search for Miss Bianca. They may prevent that it is not their business since she didn’t get missing in their custody, which is a flimsy excuse. But so long as Miss Bianca was returning the NYSC and has not arrived home, she is presumed to be with the NYSC, who should join in looking for her.
It is high time the Federal Government reconsidered the NYSC scheme with a view to ending it because of the mounting insecurity in the country that now constitutes a serious threat to corps members.
The biblical Jewish King Solomon said there is time for every affair under the heavens: a time for birth and a time to die, Ecclesiastes 3:1-2. The birth here represents the beginning of anything, while death represents the end.
The NYSC was created in 1973. That was shortly after the Nigeria-Biafra civil war in 1970, when there was dire need for trained manpower across the country to re-unite the devastated nation. There was peace and security then as the nation just emerged from a civil war. It was safe then for young graduates of tertiary institutions to be posted to any state in the federation.
Today, things have changed. That era is gone. It is no longer safe to post youngsters out of their home states in the name of NYSC. Consequently, it is time to end the scheme and save the lives of innocent corps members. – TheGuardian
– May 5, 2020 @ 14:09 GMT |