Friday, March 25, 2016 9:03 pm
The National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) says it is not ready to break ties with the Independent National Electoral Commission because of the death of a corps member during the rerun elections in Rivers state.
Instead, the NYSC says it would strengthen ties with INEC and security agencies to protect corps members on national assignments.
Brig.-Gen. Johnson Olawumi, the Director-General of NYSC, made this known to newsmen in Illah, Ohimili North local government area of Delta state, when he went on a condolence visit to the family of corps member Chukwudumabi Okonta, killed in Rivers.
Olawumi said that the death of one Corps member participating in the electoral duties was not sufficient to stop Corps members from taking part in an election process.
He said that the financial support given to them by INEC meant a lot to most Corps members, particularly those from not too comfortable background.
“If Corps members do not take part in the elections, it is also Nigerians that will fill the gap, so if anything happens to them it is not because they are not Corps members.What needs to be done is to block all loopholes, straighten ties with INEC, intensify collaboration with security agencies and take advantage of technology to drive what we do to guarantee security.
“At any point in time, Nigerians must take part in the election duties, so our concern should be to protect the lives of every Nigerian, irrespective of whether or not he or she is a Corps member,” he declared.
He said that most people have raised issues and questioned why Corps members should continue to take part in elections in the country.
“When this incident happened, I have heard a lot of people saying that may be we should not commit Corps members into electoral duties.
“But let me give you a little background, in 2011 we lost some Corps members.
“I came in January 2014 and in that year we had elections in Anambra, Edo, Ekiti and later we had in Osun and in each of this elections, we committed over 6,000 Corps members.
“In the general elections of 2015, we committed about 134,000 Corps members, even early this year, we had elections in Bayelsa, where we committed 2,600 Corps members.
“And in River State election that led to the unfortunate death of this my Corps member, we committed about 6,800 Corps members and in all this, we are unfortunate to have this case of Dumebi,” Olawumi said.
“In Abuja election was postponed because we could not muster enough Corps members but what we usually say is that if you are not convinced, don’t take part.
“They needed about 9,000 ad hoc staff, but the Corps members that registered that wants to take part were just about 3,000.
“Now, FCT has gone to the University of Abuja to get students to fill that gap, those students, are they not Nigerians?’’, Olawumi asked.
However, he urged Nigerians to protect Corps members serving in their respective communities because they are on national assignment and that they needed to be supported and protected.