Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, resolved to investigate the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) over alleged inclusion of the advice for payment of ransoms to kidnappers into its pamphlets containing security tips to serving corps members.
SaharaReporters reported how the matter went viral especially on social media and turned a controversial issue with the NYSC authorities initially denying the insertion but later backtracked.
The insertion read thus, “When travelling on high risks roads such as Abuja-Kaduna, Abuja-Lokoja-Okene or Aba-Port Harcourt roads, then alert your family members, friends and colleagues, in order to have someone on hand to pay off the ransom that could be demanded.”
Also, in another section of the handout, the NYSC also warned serving corps members against travelling with communication gadgets like laptops and cell phones so as not to be charged according to their worth.
The section reads, “In this period of ICT, do not travel with communication gadgets like laptops, iPad, handsets, and other electronic facilities that you stored personal information such as finances, net worth, investment, and business dealings as kidnappers will charge according to your worth.”
Considering and adopting a motion titled “Need to Investigate the Alleged Insertion of the Advice for Payment of Ransom into the National Youth Service Corps Pamphlets Containing Security Tips”, sponsored by the Minority Leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu at Tuesday plenary, the House of Representatives mandated its Committee on Youth Development to investigate the insertion of item 65(e) in the NYSC Security Awareness and Education Handbook to ensure that adequate measures were put in place to provide safety of corps members across the country.
Presenting the motion earlier, Elumelu recalled that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was created on 22 May 1973 as an avenue for reconciliation, reconstruction and rebuilding of the nation after the civil war.
He stated that the programme was set up, primarily for Nigerian graduates below the age of 30 who intend to work in Nigeria to be at the forefront of national developmental efforts as well as a means to impart values of nationalism, patriotism, loyalty and accountable leadership in Nigerian youths.
“The programme requires that participants be posted to States other than their States of origin where they are expected to mix with people from other ethnic groups, social and family backgrounds and learn the culture of the indigenes they are posted to, to bring about unity in the country regardless of cultural diversity
“The security challenges in the country affect corps members as some of them, on their way to respective places of posting, have fallen victim to kidnap-for-ransom, some have lost their lives to insurgents and other mishaps.
“In the last few days, reports have surfaced with picture evidence of an embarrassing provision under section 65(e) of the NYSC security tips pamphlet, advising Corps Members to tell their families to make ransoms available in case they are kidnapped on the road.
“The inclusion of the said section shows a complete collapse in the architectural system of the country’s security forces and a major worry for friends and family as to why their children should be allowed to participate in this compulsory exercise.
“The provision shows a lack of concern for the safety of corps members as against the provisions of Section 19 of the Public Officers Protection Act which places the welfare and security of corp members on the Federal Government. The insertion of such a clause by the NYSC in its security tips manual portrays the inability of the government to provide security on the highways as well as a surrender by the government to kidnappers and bandits”, he said.
Reacting to the motion, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila reminded Elumelu that the NYSC denied the praise.
“I thought NYSC denied it”, he said.
In response to Gbajabiamila’s question, Elumelu read the lines in the pamphlet.
“I am aware that NYSC denied it but Mr. Speaker, I have before me the pamphlet. This is the pamphlet they are using everywhere,” he said and proceeded to read the lines.
But Gbajabiamila still expressed fear there could be another version of the booklet especially with the NYSC denying the insertions.
He however asked the Committee to verify the authenticity of the insertions, saying there will be a problem if it was real.
“During the course of your investigation, verify the authenticity. If it is authentic, then, there is a problem”, he said.
The motion was eventually adopted after securing the votes of the majority of the House.