The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has warned the federal government against succumbing to pressure to abolish the National Youth Service Corps Scheme (NYSC).
In a statement by its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA gave several reasons why the scheme should be strengthened instead of scrapping it.
The group said : “If there is one thing the National Assembly has done exceedingly well since the return of the country to democracy in 1999, it is playing to the gallery. Inconsequential laws have always received greater attention while the lacunas to be filled with progressive legislations and legislative interventions are left largely unattended to. One of such distractions is the proposed law for the scrapping of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Scheme .
The proposed bill before the House of Representatives seeks to repeal Section 315(5)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended) .
“The sponsor of the Bill, which has already reached 2nd Reading, Mr Awaji-Inombek Abiante, in the explanatory memorandum and Lead Debate, rolled out the various reasons the NYSC should be scrapped. His main concern borders on the incessant killing of innocent corps members in some parts of the country due to banditry, religious extremism and ethnic violence; as well as kidnapping of innocent corps members across the country.
“Hon. Awaji-Inombek also noted that public and private agencies/departments are no longer recruiting able and qualified Nigerian youths because they prefer to rely heavily on the availability of corps members who are not being well remunerated and get discarded with impunity at the end of their service year without any hope of being gainfully employed. This argument is weak in the sense that tertiary education in Nigeria is heavily subsidized and NYSC is one opportunity the youths who are trained almost free at federal institutions can give back. Corps members have also been retained where there are vacancies. Corps members have also been a great augmentation to the teaching workforce and stopgap for the growing unemployment. The NYSC experience also offers corps members the first real working experience.
“Hon. Awaji-Inombek is also of the view that due to insecurity across the country, the National Youth Service Corps management now gives consideration to posting corps members to their geopolitical zone, thus defeating one of the objectives of setting up the service corps, i.e. developing common ties among the Nigerian youths and promoting national unity and integration. Rather than call for the scrapping of the scheme, a more progressive recommendation would have been how the government can secure the corps members on national service. His dwelling on insecurity as his main justification for pushing the scrapping of the scheme is as if the dire security situation in Nigeria has come to stay and will never ameliorate. This is the height of pessimism. Even the posting of corps members to their regions does not offer any specific respite against insecurity. Besides and importantly, the hierarchy of the NYSC has partnered with the Nigerian Army, the Department of State Services (NYSC) and other relevant security agencies on effective modalities for providing effective and efficient security surveillance of the NYSC camps and facilities just as the participants are constantly coached on strategic mechanisms to operate safely and stay out of harm way.
“The calls for the scrapping of the NYSC scheme have been on for some time now. The arguments of the proponents centre on the position that the scheme has outlived its usefulness. The call for the scrapping of the NYSC reached a crescendo at a point, forcing the Nigerian Government to publicly announce, through the then Minister of Youth Development and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalong, that it would not be swayed by agitations from some quarters to scrap the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
“Before the Lower Chamber kowtows to this scrapping call, let us go back to origins of the NYSC scheme. The NYSC was established in 1973 by the General Yakubu Gowon regime as a response to the disunity faced by the country following the Nigeria-Biafra Civil war. The purpose of the scheme is therefore primarily to inculcate in Nigerian youths the spirit of selfless service to the community, and to emphasize the spirit of oneness and brotherhood of all Nigerians, irrespective of cultural or social background.
“Necessarily, therefore, the benefits and objectives are to enable Nigerian youths to acquire the spirit of self-reliance by encouraging them to develop skills for self-employment; to contribute to the accelerated growth of the national economy and to develop common ties among the Nigerian youths and promote national unity and integration.
“One must concede that many of these noble values have been eroded, which calls for the repositioning of the scheme and not scraping it. Over one hundred thousand tertiary graduates pour into the labour market yearly, the NYSC scheme helps to temporarily absorp them and give the state and youths some respite.
“Though the Federal Government had stated that it would not scrap the scheme then, without addressing the reasons that prompted and even justified the calls, the agitations against the scheme tend to continue of which the bill before the House of Representatives is an example.
“There is sufficient evidence that the Federal Government is working to revamp the scheme and restore public confidence as seen in the works of Brig Gen Shuaibu Ibrahim, the NYSC Director General who has been carrying out comprehensive reforms of the scheme .
“For a fact, there is no national institution that has united Nigerians more than the NYSC scheme. Nigerian graduates have been compelled to see other states and cultures. This has proved to be a wonderful experience as most Nigerian graduates who have undergone the service year in other states come back with testimonies of how their ill perceptions of other ethnic groups have been positively corrected. Significant number of these graduates have married outside their ethnic groups based on their NYSC exposure and reorientation. No force of national unity can be of greater significance than this.
“Acculturation – coming together and interaction of two or more cultures, their imbibing of each other – is what Nigeria seriously needs to foster unity and development, and that’s precisely what the NYSC stands for and has offered since the ’70s. Those going for the death of the scheme can as well call for the disintegration of the country. For that’s the only condition that would render the NYSC irrelevant.
“The NYSC scheme has been such a brilliant idea that it has been copied by many other countries. One wonders what example Nigeria as a country would be showing such countries by scrapping the scheme the nation sold to them.
“One understands that bill has reached second reading in the House of Representatives and will be referred to the appropriate committee for tinkering before it can proceed to the 3rd and final reading, and then passing into law. Between the 2nd and 3rd readings, there ought to be public hearing where the public is permitted to make inputs. Patriotic Nigerians should be on the watch out to help in forcing the National Assembly to regain perspective by shooting down this proposed bill, which will further imperil Nigeria’s unity.
“Obviously, the NYSC scheme is in an urgent need for reforms. Insecurity is no doubt a major challenge confronting the scheme. But this is a national problem, which scrapping of the NYSC cannot cure. What needs to be done is the receivers of the corps members to undertake to do the needful, beginning with the provision of adequate accommodation in secure environments. Local Government ‘Corpers’ lodges have to be built in all LGs with adequate security arrangements. We understand that the hierarchy of NYSC has made extensive contacts with state governments and has even kickstarted the campaign for setting up the NYSC Youth Trust Fund to revitalise the NYSC. HURIWA believes that this is the best way to go instead of throwing away the baby with the bathwater.
“Still on security, working with security agencies, NYSC authorities should not post corps members to redflag states until they are safe enough, unless there are corps members who want to go on voluntarily.
“In a nutshell, the NYSC scheme is too important for Nigeria’s unity to be thrown aboard by the National Assembly.”
NUPENG Ex-chief Frank Kokori Is Dead
A former General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Chief Frank Ovie Kokori has died at the age of 80 years.
Chief Frank Kokori breathed his last at a kidney treatment hospital in Warri, Delta State, in the early hours of today, Thursday.
One of his aides, who confirmed the painful development said he would want the family to formally break the news to the media.
“He passed on this night. I would want the family to break the news formally to the media.
“I am his aide but at this moment I am not to speak on this until the family issues a statement,” he said.
Kokori’s health relapsed on Monday, and the veteran labour leader was placed on life support.
Kokori made a distress call over his failing health status last month.
He lamented that in spite of his key role in the growth of the nation’s democracy, he had been abandoned.
At the hospital last month, he said: “I came to this hospital when I was told there is a place like this in Warri.
“They have been doing their best. In the midnight, they put their generator off. But I begged them to run it that I will pay their bills.
“I came on Tuesday. After the dialysis, I have been here. I could have just died because of lack of diesel. So I had to beg them to run their generator so the air conditioner, AC, in the ward can function. I need it to be alive.
“It got to a stage that I could not take a flight, I could not walk . If it was when I was in NUPENG, I would have been flown out with air ambulance immediately.”
When the Military junta of General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the June 13, 1993 presidential election, Kokori was involved in mobilising the masses against the government.
He led NUPENG and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, in organising nationwide strikes that crippled the oil industry.
Also, Frank Kokori was actively involved in pro-democracy activities, organising and participating in rallies and demonstrations.
“If I wanted to compromise, the military (junta of late General Sani Abacha) was ready to give me anything but I stood for democracy, believing that democracy would usher in a better Nigeria.
“The refineries were working before I retired from NUPENG.
“I became the tribune of the country, heading the freedom fighters. Some of us were underground, disguised for 10 weeks fighting the military.
“The military sent presidential jet to pick me to compromise, but I refused.”
Ogun To Provide Shelter For Victims Of Gender Based Violence -Abiodun
The Ogun State Government on Wednesday said it would provide a befitting accommodation for victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the state.
Governor Dapo Abiodun made this known in his office at Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, when he received his wife and other women, who were on a road show as part of activities for the 16 days’ Activism Against Gender Based Violence in the state.
The governor, who acknowledged that gender violence has become pronounced among males and females in the country, assured that the state government would provide a befitting building to serve as a shelter for people that have been sexually harassed or subjected to other forms of molestation in the state.
The shelter, he said, will save them from the stigma usually associated with the problem.
He added that the government would also work towards instituting a Gender Based Violence Trust Funds to finance the welfare of the victims.
“You want us to ensure that we have a befitting shelter and you made a case for that, and you emphasized the fact that people abused in the house or at home can not go back home. There are those who do not have anywhere else to go back to. There is a lot of stigma associated with those who are abused.
“I believe that we have identified somewhere previously, but I am told that it may not be befitting.
“By this, I am now instructing the Secretary to the State Government to work with the Ministry of Housing to identify a building; if they can’t find one, we identify a parcel of land and we will construct a befitting building to serve as the needed shelter for those persons who have been subjected to all kinds of sexual harassment,” he said.
On the call for a specialized court to try cases of gender based violence in the state, Governor Abiodun said: “Fortunately, our head of court in Ogun State is a woman. In fact, the two courts we have, the state High ourt and the Customary Court of Appeal, are both headed by women. I am sure that the Chief Judge will be more than happy to see what she can do to expedite the request.”
The state helmsman also assured stakeholders that his administration would support women at the executive level and at the judiciary to ensure that all that is required to reduce gender violence to the barest minimum in the state, is implemented.
Governor Abiodun also brought to the fore the need to look into violence against men.
He said: “I also want to bring to the fore that violence against persons is not only violence against women . Men also are being abused. But often times, nobody talks about that, and I want to be the advocate for men who are being abused.
“On the Gender Based Violence Trust Fund, I will do everything that I can to ensure that we sit down and plan on how to mobilize resources towards this noble cause.
“Once again, I want to assure you that I do identify with you and as your Governor, I will do everything within my power to ensure that we reduce this incidence of gender based violence to an absolute minimum in Ogun State.”
In her remarks, wife of the governor, Mrs Bamidele Abiodun noted that there was an increase in cases of rape and incest in the society, calling for the provision of a safe space for those who have been abused or harassed.
Earlier, an expert on gender based violence, Dr. Mojisola Akinsanya noted that there was an urgent need to relocate women who have experienced violence at home for them to have a peaceful place to stay.
Dr. Akinsanya, who advocated for a Gender Based Violence Trust Fund in the state, acknowledged poverty as the driving force for GBV, noting that once women are well empowered, they would adequately cater for themselves.
Mike Ozekhome Fined For ‘Demonising’ Supreme Court
For ‘demomising’ the Supreme Court, rights activist and Constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome has incurred a fine of N40 million .
This development occurred in a ruling by Justice Tijani Abubakar, who ordered the Senior lawyer to personally pay the N40 million fine to the four respondents he took to court in respect of the Imo governorship tussle decided since 2019.
Abubakar held in the ruling that the request was strange, frivolous, baseless, unwarranted, vexatious and irritating.
He further held that the motion was a calculated design to demonise the Supreme Court.
Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN called to the Nigerian Bar over 42 years ago was fined the huge amount for bringing a motion before the Apex Court seeking to revalidate the suit that removed Emeka Ihedioha as Governor of Imo State in 2019.
Those to be paid are the Action People’s Party, APP, Uche Nnadi, Uche Nwosu and the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.
In the motion considered to be frivolous by the court, Ozekhome had asked the Court for a consequential order to compel INEC to issue a fresh Certificate of Return to Ihedioha to enable him to spend a four- year tenure as Imo Governor.
His grouse was that the incumbent governor, Hope Uzodinma unlawfully spent the four years which Ihedioha ought to spend.
Among others, Ozekhome in the motion claimed that the All Progressives Congress APC had no candidate in the 2019 Imo governorship election, hence, Uzodinmma ought not to have been made governor on the platform of APC.
However, the apex court dismissed the motion on the ground that it had no jurisdiction to entertain such a motion.
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