How can we sit down and watch forever these endless atrocities in the name of national service where our youths are sent to their early graves? 1985, it was the Maitasene,1999, it was religious crises by almajiri;, 2011 it was political crises as a result of the presidential elections and today, it is the deadly blood-sucking Boko Haram , all working together in disguise to achieve the same purpose. Each has used NYSC is a ploy for the massacre and elimination of their targets.
There is the pathetic story of the late son of Rev. Felix Orafu an Igbo cleric whose son was brutally murdered by Islamic fanatics in Kano while serving as an NYSC member. The late Chika Orafu was the first son of his parents, from Azu Ogbunike in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State. The dead body of Chika Orafu was never recovered for proper burial since seven years of this incident. He was among Igbo NYSC members slaughtered during their service whose blood calls for justice in this country. An important step which must be taken to appease their blood is to scrap the hypocritical programme that tricked them out of their homes to areas of religious and political hostilities where they got killed.
Will it be too much to ask Nigeria change the rules of NYSC and allow graduates to choose where to serve if it be compulsory, or let each one serve in their own communities? However, if it must be business as usual, then it means that there will be no end to our youths being hacked down to death by religious fanatics or being bombed and killed by do or die or die power greedy politicians in the name of NYSC for national unity.
Ukeoma Ikechukwu, on his Facebook page, made a recommendation to his friends. He urged them to watch the video: “A Soldier’s Silent Night”. In his words, it is a “very heart-wrenching video everyone should see”. It is the touching story of an American soldier observing Christmas in a lonely world far away from friends and family—in the service of his fatherland. Well, Ikechukwu is dead. He was murdered in cold blood by rioters who said they were protesting against the results of the 2011 presidential election. Ikechukwu was wasted in far-away Bauchi: lonely, terrified, a million miles away from friends and family—in the service of his fatherland as a Youth Corp member. It is a heart-wrenching story everyone should hear.
His last phone calls were described as coming from “someone in distress”. His last post on his Facebook wall was on Sunday, April 17, 2011, a day after the election, at 6:48am, via mobile web. He wrote (unedited): “Na wao! This CPC supporters would hv (have) killed me yesterday, no see threat oooo. Even after forcing underaged voters on me they wanted me to give them the remaining ballot paper to thumb print. Thank God for the police and am happy i could stand for God and my nation. To all corps members who stood despite these threats esp. In the north bravo! Nigeria! Our change has come.”
He was reported missing that day by friends and finally confirmed dead Friday, with thousands of tributes flowing across the social network sites.
He was not alone. Six other youth corps members were confirmed killed in Bauchi, where the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, polled 1,315,209 votes (or 81.69 per cent), defeating President Goodluck Jonathan (of the Peoples Democratic Party) who scored 258,404 votes and did not even hit the 25 per cent mark. The corps members were reportedly chased to a police station where they sought refuge. But the rioters, who were said to be chanting “Sai Buhari”, overran the station and killed the young Nigerians.
The story of Obinna Okpokiri is also equally pathetic. The 27-year-old was butchered and burnt to ashes—in the service of his fatherland. Okpokiri’s own circumstances were as gruesome as they could be. He had reportedly run to the Corpers’ Lodge as the rampaging rioters targeted the youth corps members who were the polling officers recruited by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the general election. As death loomed, the young Nigerians contemplated fleeing to the barracks, the only sanctuary in times of mob insanity. But they were not lucky enough. The rioters caught up with them, beat them up, slaughtered the ones they could and set them on fire. Human beings. Future leaders on the last lap of fulfilling statutory requirement before starting their careers. Slaughtered. Sliced. Soaked in petrol. Scorched. Reduced to ashes in the most callous fashion.
Okpokiri could have been in the United Kingdom savoring life some other way and living in the safety of a society that would go to any length to protect its citizens. He chose to return to his fatherland after acquiring a post-graduate degree in the UK. He chose to do the mandatory national youth service. He chose to obey the posting to Bauchi State, as against the mass hysteria of changing posting.
And, as it were, he chose to die.
The story of Ikechukwu and Okpokiri, mowed down in their infancies, is re-igniting calls for the scrapping of the NYSC—a body created in 1976 ironically to foster national unity. The corps members always appear to be the primary targets in ethno-religious riots in some parts of the country. There is now an online petition being mobilized to ask for the withdrawal of youth corps members from violent states, while some are calling for the outright scrapping of the scheme in the interest of safety and protection of the lives of the young graduates.
These sad events responsible for the untimely death of our future leaders can be traced to the warning of our late leader, the Nostradamus of our time, General Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu in his address at the Ahiara declaration (The Biafran Revolution),thus:
The Biafran struggle is, on another plane, a resistance to the Arab-Muslim expansionism which has menaced and ravaged the African continent for twelve centuries. As early as the first quarter of the seventh century, the Arabs, a people from the Near-East, evolved Islam not just as a religion but as a cover for their insatiable territorial ambitions. By the tenth century they had overrun and occupied, among other places, Egypt and North Africa. Had they stopped there, we would not today be faced with the wicked and unholy collusion we are fighting against. On the contrary, they cast their hungry and envious eyes across the Sahara on to the land of the Negroes.
Our Biafran ancestors remained immune from the Islamic contagion. From the middle years of the last century Christianity was established in our land. In this way we came to be a predominantly Christian people. We came to stand out as a non-Muslim island in a raging Islamic sea. Throughout the period of the ill-fated Nigerian experiment, the Muslims hoped to infiltrate Biafra by peaceful means and quiet propaganda, but failed. Then the late Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto tried, by political and economic blackmail and terrorism, to convert Biafrans settled in Northern Nigeria to Islam. His hope was that these Biafrans on dispersion would then carry Islam to Biafra, and by so doing give the religion political control of the area. The crises which agitated the so-called independent Nigeria from 1962 gave these aggressive proselytisers the chance to try converting us by force.
It is now evident why the fanatic Arab-Muslim states like Algeria, Egypt and the Sudan have come out openly and massively to support and aid Nigeria in her present war of genocide against us. These states see militant Arabism as a powerful instrument for attaining power in the world.
Biafra is one of the few African states untainted by Islam. Therefore, to militant Arabism, Biafra is a stumbling block to their plan for controlling the whole continent. This control is fast becoming manifest in the Organisation of African Unity. On the question of the Middle East, the Sudanese crisis, in the war between Nigeria and Biafra, militant Arabism has succeeded in imposing its point of view through blackmail and bluster. It has threatened African leaders and governments with inciting their Muslim minorities to rebellion if the governments adopted an independent line on these questions. In this way an O.A.U that has not felt itself able to discuss the genocide in the Sudan and Biafra, an O.A.U. that has again and again advertised its ineptitude as a peace-maker, has rushed into open condemnation of Israel over the Middle East dispute. Indeed in recent times, by its performance, the O.A.U. might well be an Organization of Arab Unity.
Matthew Mbanaja writes from Cotonou, Benin Republic.