Home OPINION COMMENTARY 2015 Elections: Challenge Of Insecurity And NYSC Members, By Deen Adavize

2015 Elections: Challenge Of Insecurity And NYSC Members, By Deen Adavize

INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega and NYSC Director General, Brigadier-General Johnson Bamidele Olawumi
INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega and NYSC Director General, Brigadier-General Johnson Bamidele Olawumi

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has proved over the years to be an important part of Nigeria’s socio-economic and manpower development process, and in recent times, played a defining role in the nation’s electoral process.
Professor Attahiru Jega has made remarkable reforms in the national electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In fact, NYSC members in the conduct of the election is a development that has added some level of credibility to the process.
Their involvement has actually contributed to some level of success recorded in the 2011 general elections. Youth service corps, therefore, becomes an important stakeholder in the electoral process in the country.
Over time, many Nigerians have come to regard NYSC involvement as a right step towards delivering free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria. In spite of some cases of administrative lapses in INEC during the last general elections, the exercise remains one of the most credible elections in Nigeria.
However, the regrettable incident of post-election violence in 2011 which led to the killings of several corps members that served as electoral officers coupled with the deteriorating state of insecurity in the country have heightened anxiety among Nigerians. The inability of the security agents to safeguard the lives of the slain corps members has raised doubt on whether they will be able to prevent any eventual repeat of such barbaric and undesirable scenarios in the coming elections, particularly in the volatile areas of the country.
Parents and guardians have vowed not to allow their wards to participate in the next year’s exercise as a result of the state of the nation.
As a matter of fact, the Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier-General Johnson Bamidele Olawumi has done a lot in ensuring the safety of corps members nationwide. For example, during the three weeks orientation camp which held across the country, the management demonstrated excellent commitment to the security of youth corpers. They have provided the various state police commands and the state security service commands’ contacts and the locations of lodges of corps members were ascertained to security agents in case of emergencies. There is also the distress call center for corps members to use in times of distress.
This should be a good news for parents and guardians, especially given the security situation in the country.  But that is not enough and much still need to be done, especially during and after the forthcoming elections.
It would not be wrong for NYSC management to consider posting corps members to their various localities of their origin as INEC ad-hoc staff, because they are much familiar with their environs than areas they may be alien to. This will further allay the fear of the unknown during the exercise.
INEC and security agents must not only guarantee total security for the corps members but also provide necessary support and enabling environment for the electoral officers.
Politicians should be tasked to sensitize their supporters on the need to ensure the safety of the corps members serving as electoral officers during the exercise. Better still, Political parties, INEC and security agents should be forced to sign a binding security agreement with the parents of corps members who will be sent to different localities they may not familiar with to serve as electoral officers.
And, corps members who want to participate in the exercise should ensure strict compliance with the electoral guidelines in order not to fall victim of electoral offenses.
Corps members must be patriotic, unbiased and non-partisan in service to their fatherland. They should exhibit a sense of humility, diligent and commitment to the electorates and all political parties. As would be recalled, one of the accusations put forth by the murderers of youth corps members during the 2011 elections was their involvement in partisan politics, by thumb-printing in favour of one political party. This must be a lesson for those that will be participating in the exercise.
INEC should ensure that motivational allowances are adequately and timely paid to their ad-hoc staff. This will rejuvenate their commitment to the exercise and also dissuade them from taking financial inducement from desperate politicians who usually seek to exploit the poor and innocent young Nigerians with a stipend.
Members of the communities must collaborate with all stakeholders in ensuring the absolute security of the corps members.
If the above measures are properly put in place, they will, to some extent, prevent the reoccurrence of bizarre scenarios that trailed the 2011 presidential election.

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