Prominent Nigerians and groups, including the Trade Union Congress, on Thursday criticised the Minister of Youth Development, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, for insisting that National Youth Service Corps members must be posted to states under attack by Boko Haram.
The President-General of the TUC, Mr. Peter Esele, described the minister’s statement as shocking and irresponsible.
He stated, “The reason why we have NYSC is for national integration. What we have now is different from that. The challenges that the corps members are facing threaten their lives.”
Esele faulted the minister’s comparison of military personnel with the NYSC members.
He said, “As military personnel, it is their calling to be posted for security duties because they signed for it and they are prepared.
“That is not the situation with the corps members. What the corps members are doing is not what they want to do. If you ask them, none of them would agree to be posted to those places.
“I am shocked that the minister made such a statement. It is so sad and shocking. Instead of looking at the failure of the state to protect lives and property, he (the minister) is saying corps members should agree to serve anywhere they are posted to.”
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the Congress for Progressive Change, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, described the minister’s statement as highly insensitive.
He said the minister’s statement was disingenuous and uncharitable.
Fashakin stated, “The CPC is averse to the efforts of the Federal Government in stemming the tide of insecurity in the land.
“The usual rhetoric of ‘we are on top of the situation’ is no longer acceptable when Nigerians now sleep with palpable shambolic fear for their lives and property.
“It is insensitive to compare service men to corps members. What had been done by this government as compensation for families of the corps members that were harmed in the past?
“Can the minister give a list of his children and close relatives that would be deployed in these theatres of insurrection as corps members before asking the same of other Nigerians? If he is not capable of doing this, he should consider his statement as very disingenuous and uncharitable.”
The spokesperson for the Ijaw Republican Assembly, Ankio Briggs, said that the people in charge of affairs of the country had no clue to what was happening.
She stated, “Clearly, it shows that this minister has no clue at all. If he has, he will not be saying such a thing. As a parent, I believe that the NYSC has no value for the Nigerian youth and the country. Tell me, what is the value?
“On a personal note, my children would not go and serve in the North. They are sending other people’s children to go and die, these corps members they are sending to the North, are they soldiers? Did they sign to go and die?
“The minister has no business being a minister. In fact, I am calling for the scrapping of the NYSC. If the NYSC is not scrapped, then people should go and serve in their own zones where we know that they will be safe.
“We are talking about corps members who were trained by their parents and guardians and not by the Federal Government.”
A former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav, warned the Federal Government against any move to endanger young graduates in the country by sending them to trouble spots.
He stated that the presence of soldiers of peacekeeping mission in Jos and other parts of the North had not prevented the recurrent killings in the North.
The former commissioner stated that even armed policemen took to their heels during the violence in Jos.
He said, “Soldiers have been on peacekeeping operations in the North, but still they kill people. These young people just left school and they want to cut short their lives. They should try and beef up security before posting them there.
“In Jos, there were policemen and they ran away, why didn’t soldiers go there to protect them? So, that minister does not know what he is talking about.”
Also, a former member of the House of Representatives and former governorship candidate of the ACN, Mr. Uche Onyeagucha, challenged the minister to lead by example by sending his children to the troubled areas and even relocating his office to either Yobe or Borno.
He challenged the minister to sign an undertaking that he would be held responsible for the death of any corps member on posting to crisis-ridden spots in the country.
He said that it was inconceivable for any corps member to be posted to the troubled states, even when security operatives and policemen on posting to the areas were lobbying to get out of there because they were scared. According to him, some of them would have bought themselves out of the North if not for a standing instruction by the IG that all transfers out of the troubled areas must be brought to his attention. He said the minister’s statement was regrettable and unfortunate as the President himself had admitted openly in a recent media chat that he could not fly to Maiduguri because of the security situation.
He urged corps members to refuse postings to such trouble spots.
“It is simple; it is not as if this thing is mandatory, if you are posted to a state you don’t like, the thing is for you to reject it, and you repeat the service, and you will be posted to another state. The most reasonable thing is to reject it if you are posted to such areas.
“As I am talking to you, there are several military officers, who are posted to Borno, Yobe, Kano and Kaduna, who are lobbying to get out of those states.
“There is hardly any police officer, who is not working hard to get out. This means that the riot policemen who are armed are scared, why then should anybody post any corps member to those areas?” Onyeagucha asked.
However, the Arewa Consultative Forum would not embark on an outright dismissal of the minister’s comment, saying he was right in some way.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani, said that assignments such as the NYSC were national sacrifices expected from Nigerians.
He said, “In a way, the minister is right because such assignments are sacrifices Nigerians are expected to make for the country.
“However, we must not lose sight of the Hausa adage which says, ‘Idan Yaro na kiwuya, baba na rowa,’meaning if the child refuses to go on an errand, it means the father refuses to be generous to the child.”