The sudden death of two First Class graduates while undergoing orientation at National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) camps in Kano and Zamfara states inflamed passions across the country on Friday.
A Batch B female corps member identified as Oladepo Ifedolapo who graduated with a First Class degree from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, died at the NYSC camp in Kano during the week. She was buried on Thursday in Osogbo, Osun State capital.
Tears flowed freely as her remains were brought for burial to Osogbo, dressed in NYSC uniform, in an ambulance marked NYSC 270-56 FG.
The news of her death was first reported by a Facebook user, identified as Emeka Stefano Ekwe, who said the deceased died due to negligence of NYSC officials.
According to the said post, the late corps member had complained of ill health but was refused treatment by the officials who concluded that the late Ifedolapo was simply making excuses not to participate in the usual drills.
Her relations told the press in Osogbo on Thursday that she was confirmed dead at the Gwarzo General Hospital several hours after her case had been reportedly mismanaged by NYSC officials attending to her.
Another First class graduate of Petroleum Engineering from the University of Uyo, identified as Ukeme Asuquo was also reported dead in the early hours of Friday at the NYSC Orientation camp in Zamfara State.
Details of his death were sketchy on Friday although the NYSC claimed that the late Ukeme gave up the ghost while suffering from stooling and vomitting.
In a Facebook reaction by the deceased’s friend, one Victor Jerry Emah, he said the late Ukeme had his reservations for Zamfara where he was posted and weighed options of possible redeployment. He posted online, his Whatsapp chats with the late corps member showing the deceased anguish at his posting to the far northern state.
The third incident was the case of a female corps member, Miss Chiyerum Elechi, who reportedly died at the NYSC orientation camp in Kaiama, Kolokuma-Opokoma, Bayelsa state. She reportedly died of severe hemorrhage and excessive vomiting.
Miss Elechi, 27, who hailed from Rivers State and studied at the Ignatius Azuru University of Education, Port Harcourt, Rivers State,was said to have died in a hospital in Yenagoa on Wednesday, November 30, 2016.
The death of the corps members has generated sad feelings among Nigerians and further degenerated into angry calls for the scrap of the NYSC. A hashtag #scrapnysc was trending on the social media on Friday. Another hashtag #justiceforifedolapo created for the late Dolapo was also found trending last night.
Deaths unfortunate —NYSC
When contacted, NYSC’s Head of Press, Mrs Abosede Aderibigbe who confirmed the deaths expressed regrets over the development which she described as unfortunate.
She told Saturday Tribune that details of the death of the female corps member in Kano was still sketchy and that the Director General, Brigadier General Sulaiman Kazaure, had sent a powerful team to Kano State, to ascertain the cause of Ifedolapo’s death.
“What happened is very unfortunate, only God knows what happened but the DG has sent a powerful team to investigate the death,” she said.
She promised that the NYSC would visit the family of the deceased adding also, that the scheme’s insurance would compensate the family.
On the case of another female corps member who died in Bayelsa State, she explained that the said corps member came to camp bleeding even as she suspected possible abortion.
She said;”the case of the corps member that died in Bayelsa, she came to camp bleeding, we suspected possible abortion because even when she sat with her colleagues, they perceived offensive odour due to excessive bleeding. She came to camp with it.”
Also on the death of the corps member in Zamfara, she said it was reported that the said corps member came to camp stooling and vomiting.
“Only God understands what happened. He came to camp with the ailment. We’ve told them to upload on the site if they had any ailment but some of them didn’t do that.
“We have doctors in the camps, we set up clinics two days to orientation. The DG released enough money for drugs. We have enough drugs. It is only when call doctors cannot handle the case that we refer them to a teaching hospital,” she added.
When contacted on the death of Dolapo, the Osun State coordinator of the NYSC, Mrs Regina Ilubue said she could not make any official statement on the circumstances surrounding the demise of the deceased.
She, however, said as the state coordinator of the NYSC, she “only received a directive from the national headquarters that we should receive the remains of Dolapo Oladepo and give her a befitting burial because she was from Osun State. That was what we have done. I cannot say anything again. This is because she did not serve or was not posted to Osun. She was posted to Kano State.”
Afenifere calls for review of scheme
Pan Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere in its reaction described the death of the corps members as sad and tragic calling for a radical review of the NYSC scheme.
Afenifere’s reaction was contained in a statement issued on Friday by its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin.
“Thia is a tragic news and needless loss to the parents of these young people. It is pathetic to learn that all pleas by one of them that she was ill was ignored until she worked to death. This is callous and it stems from a clash of civilisations to insist that a graduate could be treated like a slave in a camp.
“These deaths are additions to those who were killed during 2011 elections violence and in Boko Haram insurgency. At this point, it is either we scrap this scheme entirely or at the least ensure that graduates serve in their zones of origin,” Afenifere said.