The loss of nine members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), who drowned in River Mayo-Selbe in Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba State during a picnic, is very tragic. The victims were among the 22 corps members who had gone on a picnic around the area before the incident occurred. The deceased were part of the 2018 Batch ‘A’ corps members in Taraba State.
READ ALSO: TRAGEDY: 9 corps members drown in Taraba
The Taraba State Police Public Relations Officer, ASP David Missal, who confirmed the death of nine of the 22 corps members reported to be swimming in River Mayo-Selbe on August 4, said seven bodies were recovered from the incident. Two of the victims were from Imo, three from Delta, one from Anambra, one from Enugu, one from Edo and one from Kaduna State.
The spokesperson of the NYSC, Mrs. Adeyemi Adenike, said the drowning was caused by the sudden surge of the River Mayo-Selbe. In honour of the dead, the NYSC declared a three-day mourning (August 6-8) to sympathise with the families of the dead. During the period, NYSC’s flags were flown at half-mast nationwide.
The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has condoled with the families of the late corps members, the management of the NYSC and the people of Taraba State, where the sad incident occurred and the states from where the identified victims hailed. The Acting President also said “This terrible occurrence has abruptly ended the lives of these young men and women while they were dutifully engaged in national service.”
Governor Darius Ishaku of Taraba State has also condoled with the NYSC and families of the dead. The governor also enjoined corps members “to always inform officials of the NYSC and those of their primary assignments in advance of their plans to travel and embark on social outings which could be prone to some hazards so that adequate security and safety covers would be officially made for them.”
In the same vein, the Director-General of the NYSC, Brig-Gen. Suleiman Kazaure, who expressed sadness over the incident, warned corps members against attending or organising social events without the approval of the officials of the corps in their places of primary assignment.
It is very painful that the victims died in their prime. We grieve with the NYSC, the nation, the families of the victims and the states where they hailed from for the irreparable loss. It is regrettable that they came to that tragic end. Having died in the national service, the nation will not forget them. Therefore, the Federal Government should immortalise them.
We urge the government not to relent in its efforts to recover the bodies of the remaining victims and we pray that this tragic incident does not happen again. It will be recalled that the Taraba incident came about three months after Mr. Ojeshola Taofeek, a member of the NYSC drowned in Nembe River in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, shortly after passing out from the scheme.
We advise NYSC members to be more circumspect and discreet in selecting their activities and engagements in areas of their primary assignment. Government must ensure that corps members are given adequate security during their service year.
The NYSC was set up by the Gen. Yakubu Gowon regime in 1973 to unify the country after the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970. Since then, the scheme has served as a rallying point for Nigerians from all parts of the country. In spite of its imperfections, it has remained a veritable symbol of unity in the country. It is a lofty idea, which despite its numerous challenges, should be sustained.