Few weeks after news of a contentious handbook issued by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) on security awareness to corps members broke out, Nigerians continue to express concern.
A fierce debate broke out last month over a copy of the handbook obtained from some corps members, titled; ‘Security Awareness and Education Handbook for Corps Members and Staff,’ advising them to alert their family members, friends and colleagues to have someone on hand to pay off ransom that could be demanded in the case of kidnap.
Although management of the scheme has come out to debunk the reports, stating that the clause quoted is not embedded in the NYSC security tips pamphlet, which was put together by a retired security expert, concerns continue to grow.
In a section of the handbook titled ‘Advisory Tips to Minimise Being Victims of Kidnappers or Hostage Takers’, contained on pages 58 and 59 of the handbook, NYSC implores corps members not to ply isolated routes and warns that “most Nigerians are vulnerable.”
The contentious section of the book read, “When travelling on high risk 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.”
In a rebuttal signed by the NYSC spokesperson, Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, the Scheme described the report as fake. “The attention of management of the National Youth Service Corps has been drawn to a fake release making the rounds on the social media to the effect of corps members travelling on high-risk roads.
“The clause quoted is not embedded in the NYSC Security Tips pamphlet which was put together by a highly respected retired security expert,” she was quoted saying.
But the House of Representatives recently mandated its committee on Youth Development to investigate NYSC over the handbook. A minority leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, who led a debate on the matter, said the development shows “complete collapse” of the country’s security architecture.
Francis, a parent whose daughter awaits service, voiced his criticism in a chat with me, saying the statement has created more fear in lives of prospective corps members.
He noted that NYSC may not mean to create havoc with the advice, but the manner in which it was presented was scary.
“Given the current state of insecurity in the country, telling corps members to inform their family members and others for ransom in case of kidnap is putting more fear in their lives.”
A corps member serving in Abuja who does not want her name mentioned, said since the news broke out she has been afraid to visit her family. She called on the NYSC and government “to ensure adequate security measures, in order to protect corps members serving in various states of the federation.”