“This is a national disgrace,” says #ProtectTheCorpers

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The coalition of groups behind #ProtectTheCorpers,m formed in the wake of
the killing of young National Youth Service Corps members in the North has
called on the Federal Government and the Government of Rivers State to
give the nation a report on the whereabouts of the kidnapped corps members
in the state and the plans to get them to their families safe.

“Tomorrow, the 16th of June, is the passing out parade for the Batch B
Corps Members, and more than once week since Olumide Yusuf and 4 other
female corp members were kidnapped from Community Secondary School in
Omademe village Ikwerre LGA of Port Harcourt, Rivers State,” said Chude
Jideonwo, of The Future Project. “The matter of kidnapping is one of
general national concern and is not specifically an NYSC issue, and as
such we had hoped, as with all Nigerians, the government would decisively
tackle this development, but we are alarmed that about ten days later,
these young helpless people serving their nation are yet to be found!”

The coalition described as “unconscionable”, the fact that expatriates and
prominent Nigerians happen to find freedom based on the negotiation and
activities of various government functionaries, but in this case there has
been a surprising national silence.

“This comes as we should be gladded by news that the Federal Government
has not acceded to the first of its seven demands for short-term measures
to guarantee the safety and security of young Nigerians under the National
Youth Service Scheme,” said Yemi Adamolekun of the EnoughisEnough
movement. “The number one demand was for the government to “Identify
violence-prone “hot-spots” states and/or districts and ensure that corps
member posting to these areas is voluntary. This voluntary posting must
also come with an institutionalised incentive. In news reports last
Friday, Gabriel Ibe, the Oyo State Coordinator of the National Youth
Service Corps (NYSC), announced that the NYSC management will no longer
post corps members to crisis prone areas in the country; revealing that
each state coordinator has been so directed and the directive will take
effect with the next deployment of corps members on July 7.”

This sad development follows the conclusion of the coalition’s petition
drive. It will be recalled that the call for signatures for the formal
petition to be forwarded to the Presidency and the Ministry for Youth
Development was brought to a successful close after the petition was
brought to the attention of the President at his pre-inauguration meeting
with young Nigerian leaders and groups. The coalition extracted a
commitment from the President to speed up the process of reforming the
youth corps scheme amid a directive to his Minister for Youth Development
who was also present at the meeting.

“Unfortunately,” said Samuel Joseph, who is project manager of this
campaign, “This is now two steps backwards. The continued kidnap is a
national disgrace. Reform of the NYSC is a long term project that involves
thought, strategy perspective true – but in the meantime, we demand that
President Goodluck Jonathan as the Chief Security Officer of the nation be
seen as doing everything in its power immediately, to free these young
people. At this point, nothing matters more.”

The coalition behind #ProtectTheCorpers is led by The Future Project, and
includes SleevesUp Nigeria, the National Youth Council, AIESEC,
EnoughisEnoughNigeria, NigeriaVillageSquare.com, Friends of Aik and
Paradigm Initiative Nigeria.

More information is on www.thefuturenigeria.com/protectthecorpers.

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