By Azaniah Nwoke

Our youths appear to be unduly exposed to dangers these days as they participate in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme.

Not long ago, a group of corps members from Akwa Ibom State were kidnapped on their way to the Sokoto orientation camp. Some are still in captivity, even as their relatives suffer the agony arising therefrom. Some corps members have even lost their lives as a result of insecurity in the areas where they are serving.

As it is the primary duty of government to secure at all times, the lives of citizens, I plead and suggest that the NYSC programme be suspended for now, as a matter of urgency and necessity, until the safety of our youngsters can be guaranteed. The outcome of this proposal could be likened to taking your car of many years off the road and sending it to the mechanic. It comes back overhauled and ready to serve you better.

The National Assembly should immediately revisit and review some of the out-dated provisions and articles with which the NYSC was established about 50 years ago, when there was no insecurity whatsoever anywhere in Nigeria. For example, the provision that corps members from the South must serve in the North and vice versa (ostensibly to have a better understanding of the country) should be scrapped in view of the stark reality of today.

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Instead, let corps members be taught Nigerian history and geography during their orientation. You don’t need to travel to Bauchi or Uyo from Lagos to know the area and people and how they live. Also, corps members should serve in their geo-political zones of origin, where they are familiar with the terrain and are safer, without having to travel long and dangerous distances.

They should be well-guarded and fully escorted when moving, before, during, and after their orientation. They are unarmed civilians and therefore deserve even more of every safety measure the government can put in place.

Let’s remember that when your messenger is attacked, you are the one attacked. Corps members are messengers of the unity of the Nigerian state. Therefore, any attack on them is an attack on us all. We have not seen this much level of insecurity as we have now (not even in all my 80 years of life).

A stitch in time saves nine. (In this case, saves lives). The government should act fast and now. Let it be clear that I am not advocating abrogation, as the NYSC would still promote national unity if properly harnessed.

•Chief Nwoke, an educationist writes from Port Harcourt