Apologise or resign, #ProtectTheCorpers tells Governor Isa Yuguda

- Asks NYSC to suspend posting of corps members to Bauchi State, as their security cannot be guaranteed

The coalition of groups behind the #ProtectTheCorpers campaign have demanded a full and unreserved apology from the Governor of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda, for insensitive statements he made about youth corps members who lost their lives in post-election riots in Bauchi, and other states in the North.


We read with utmost dismay the comments attributed to the Governor of Bauchi State, Isa Yuguda, regarding the murders of youth corps members in his state. Mr. Yuguda was quoted in the Punch Newspapers (Friday, April 29, 2011) as saying “They (corps members) were destined to experience what they experienced. Nob
ody can run away from destiny. Immediately I handed them over to INEC, it was the responsibility of INEC to protect them. They were not the only ones affected. You cannot hold Yuguda or Bauchi State (responsible) for what happened to those corps members, because it was the responsibility of INEC to take care of them."

#ProtectTheCorpers joins prominent Nigerians from across the country who have condemned the governor’s reckless remarks, including former Attorney-General, Richard Akinjide, who put this issue in perspective by reminding the governor that the Commissioner of Police in the state was responsible to the governor and as such should be taking orders from him. He also reminded the Governor that he is chairman of his state’s Security Council.



“It beggars belief that a governor, who also doubles as the Chief Security Officer of his state, would make such a statement regarding the horrific murders of Nigerian youth on national assignment within his jurisdiction,” said Tolu Ogunlesi of the EnoughisEnough Nigeria Coalition. “We regard Mr. Yuguda’s words not only as proof of an outright abdication of his responsibility to ensure the security of lives and property within his jurisdiction, but also as proof that he is unfit to be trusted with the affairs of managing a Nigerian State.”

Still, it appears that the governor stands by his statement, as on Saturday, his office released a response that emphasised his earlier remarks. Repeating the offending comments, his Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Media/Public Affairs, Sanusi Muhammad, quoted the governor as saying “The death of the corp members was purely an act of destiny. As human beings we should always accept our destiny either in our favour or against our interest. The unfortunate death of the corps members was destined to happen in the course of their service to Nigeria. Every new day is a new experience to all living souls which we must contend.”

We find both statements objectionable and indefensible, and deserving of unequivocal condemnation by all well-meaning Nigerians. We demand a retraction or resignation by Mr. Yuguda, and a public apology to the families of the murdered corps member and to the country as a whole. We call on the Governor’s Forum, of which he is a member, to immediately denounce this statement.

We also call on the management of the National Youth Service Corps to immediately suspend the deployment of youth corps members to Bauchi State. There is no way the lives of youth corps members can be regarded as being secure in a state whose governor confidently tells the world that “they were destined to experience what they experienced.”

On Thursday, 28 April 2011, the #ProtectTheCorpers campaign was launched. The campaign is led by The Future Nigeria Project, in partnership with the National Youth Council, AIESEC, SleevesUp Nigeria, Friends of Aik, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, NigeriaVillageSquare, and the EnoughisEnough Nigeria Coalition.

The campaign has already gathered support across the country, thousands have already signed the petition and the coalition is confident that it will reach its target of 100, 000 signatures.

“This is not a protest,” said Chude Jideonwo, of The Future Project. “This is a policy intervention. We have gone out and voted, and it is time to put government under pressure to act on behalf of the people. The #ProtectTheCorpers campaign is aimed at “implementing a solution-oriented approach that involves working with Members of the National Assembly, the Ministry of Youth and the NYSC authorities to reform the service in order to protect corps members in the interim and then to completely overhaul the scheme in the long term so that it is actually useful to the nation.”

The 7-point demand in the petition includes official identification of “hotspot” states and districts, the establishment of an NYSC Emergency Fund in times of crisis, decentralisation of the command structure so that state governments are in charge of welfare and security, life insurance for corps members, a comprehensive and digitised database of corps members and most importantly, the formation of a National Youth Service Reform Committee to recommend full scale reform of the functions, scope and structure of the programme.

“Mr. Yuguda might not have noticed, but the balance of power just changed hands from politicians to the people in the last elections. Politicians like him should note that there will be consequences for their actions and statements,” the coalition said in a statement signed by the National Youth Council.

The petition and more information on the demands is available on www.thefuturenigeria.com/protectthecorpers.

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