Monday, November 15, 2021

INEC's lessons for NYSC - ITREALMS

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The social media was curious recently with a session of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) handbook that prescribes ‘ransom’ payment by corps member’s families. REMMY NWEKE writes there is a lesson from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) own handbook for staff.

Primer:

A 22-year old Osa Odim, has just graduated from one of the universities in the South-South Nigeria and when his call-up for the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) came for those under 30 years, he was posted to Zamfara.

A palpable fear erupted in the family and friends due to the season was not what they expect, moreso now the north generally are daily reported to have witnessed one kidnapping or another on weekly basis.

ITREALMS recalls that as a laydown rules, prospective corps members are expected to report for the mandatory three-week NYSC orientation in their first place of posting, even if one has to seek or have any reason to request change of location.

This came when the news broke that some gunmen kidnapped some prospective corps members in Zamfara, and demanded N2m ransom. One of them identified as Ms Iorliam Jennifer, an English graduate of the Benue State University was abducted on her way to the NYSC camp in Kebbi State. The abduction which also involved some other five passengers, ITREALMS gathered, occurred along the Zamfara highway at Tsafe Local Government Area (LGA), including two corps members, and another student among other victims who were later asked to pay N2 million each as ransom. This much was confirmed by some of the victim’s family members via the telephone.

Embarrassing NYSC Clause:

In the wake of this tension, an advisory page for the corps and staff on reaching out to the family and friends when plying certain routes described as “high risk” went viral on the social media with what industry observers labeled ‘embarrassing clause.’

ITREALMS also gathered the handbook entitled “Security Awareness and Education Handbook for Corps Members and Staff,” on page 56, advised both corps members and ‘staff’ travelling on “high-risk” roads to alert their “family members, friends and colleagues to have someone on hand to pay off the ransom that could be demanded” in case they are kidnapped.

The handbook produced by a private security outfit, Messrs Watchcon Security Consultancy Services in collaboration with NYSC headquarters listed such roads to include ‘Abuja-Kaduna, Abuja-Lokoja-Okene, or Aba-Port Harcourt’ roads.

Investigations ongoing:

NYSC through its spokesperson, Mrs. Adenike Adeyemi, acknowledged the content in the handbook with a promise they were already investigating the situation, with varied copies of the handbook in circulation.

Reacting, the Police Command in Gusau, Zamfara State capital confirmed terrorists abduction of, at least, two prospective corps members deployed from Benue to Kebbi and Sokoto States, within the same week, according to the Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mohammed Shehu.

“It could be recalled that on October 19, 2021, at about 2230 hours, a vehicle with registration number GBK 339 ZY was blocked by armed bandits along Tsafe- Gusau road while travelling from Benue to Sokoto State. The vehicle was attacked while passing through Wanzamai Village in Tsafe LGA.

Meanwhile, the suspension of mobile networks in Tsafe local government area, ITREALMS gathered is affecting access to telecommunications at the NYSC camp and environs who may need same for good causes.


With this, Osa Odim family and friends began to tinker on the best way possible for him to join his colleagues at Zamfara for orientation. A decision was reached and appeal for funding done. Osa went to the nearby motor park and took a bush to Zamfara. Throughout his two weeks orientation as reduced by NYSC due to security reasons. But throughout the period he was, the family and friends in fact booked masses and offer special prayers until his return to base.


Throughout the two weeks, Osa Odim was only able to call his parents twice per week to affirm to them his whereabouts, largely because there was suspension of mobile networks in that area.

Like Police like NYSC in INEC:

Then, less than a year, and in fulfillment of staff welfare, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently presented cheques to the next of kin of Police Officers who died in a boat mishap that occurred during the Bayelsa Central and West Senatorial Districts’ bye elections, held on 5th December 2020.

The Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Dr Emmanuel Alex-Hart made the presentation to the beneficiaries on behalf of the INEC Chairman on Tuesday, 26th October 2020, at the INEC Bayelsa State Office, Yenegoa, in line with the Commission’s insurance policy for Staff, adhoc staff and other personnel engaged for the conduct of elections and who, in the discharge of their duties sustained injuries, permanent disability or death.

The beneficiaries include: Anthony Batambari Paul (son and next-of-kin of Florence Nbaane); Ezinwa Divine Amaechi (Husband and next-of-kin of Ezinwa Juliana; and Victoria Edet (wife and next-of-kin of Daniel Edet).

INEC and Bayelsa bye elections 2020 example:

Dr Alex-Hart, who expressed the Commission’s sympathy to the families of the deceased, also appreciated them for honouring the Commission’s invitation and staying strong in spite of the challenges they have faced as a result of their loss.

Those who witnessed the event included the Administrative Secretary Engr. Okop Umobong, and Heads of Department. The Nigeria Police Force was represented by Assistant Commissioner of Police (Admin), Mr. Emmanuel I. Asufi, and some senior police officers.

After the presentation, ACP Asufi thanked the Commission on behalf of the Inspector General of Police and Commissioner of Police, Bayelsa State for the kind gesture, describing it as a great encouragement “that will greatly strengthen the Commission’s relationship with the Nigeria Police Force.”

Mr. Anthony Batambari Paul, one of the beneficiaries who spoke on behalf of others, thanked INEC for giving a “thoughtful condolence package” to their families.


Conclusion:

Aside the implications of the suspensions of mobile networks in some parts of the country, especially the north east and north west which needs rethinking with Afghanistan model, the current telecommunications interruptions will not achieve its desired results; largely due to some other sectoral needs like emergencies and even security in the environ.

Barely one month later, despite claims by NYSC through its spokesperson, Mrs. Adenike Adeyemi, that they were already investigating the situation, nothing has come out as a result of the investigation. May be it would be swept under the carpet.

Emulation of INEC by the leadership of NYSC with regards to how to look after your permanent and temporary staffers by exploring an insurance policy for members of the corps nationwide, which will calm some nerves on sustaining of injuries, permanent disability or losing loved ones to death and mostly in the north and precisely north east where kidnapping has obviously become a business against education at all levels.

Just as there is lessons for NYSC from INEC, a stitch in time save nine.

*Editor

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