The postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) last Saturday remains one of the sordid episodes in the nation’s political attempts in democratize governance and improvement of the social, economic and political well being of millions of its citizenry.
While the Professor Mahmood Yakubu’s announcement has continued to raise obfuscating dusts in the political space since it was made with many analysts condemning the decision for various reasons, one of the yet to be critically appraised impact is the hardships meted out to several thousands of youth corps members engaged as ad-hoc staff for the exercise.
Reports reaching Nigerian NewsDirect from across the six-geo political zones relating to how the young Nigerians servicing their fatherland through the National Youth Service Corps scheme were treated showed that INEC and its leadership did not do well in providing security and accommodation for these teaming youths.
From Lagos through Uyo, Kaura Namoda, Sokoto to Yola, tales by some of the corps members showed that apart from neglecting them to fend for themselves in communities where they are not familiar with, INEC abandoned them totally, forcing majority of them to sleep on bare floors, school desks or even open spaces in their various locations.
For a country that looks so unpromising in the eyes of its future leaders due to the political ineptitude of succeeding leaders to guarantee their socio-economic future, last Saturday’s neglect of the youths amounted to another injury too many on the psyche of the bubbling youths who, despite all the odds, are still sacrificing all in the service of their fatherland.
Nigerian NewsDirect investigations showed that some of these corps members were even attacked in the course of their search for where to lay their heads on Saturday while others, who had expected that INEC would provide them dinner on the eve of the elections had to sleep on empty stomachs.
As economists and other commentators continue to appraise the multi-dimensional havocs the postponement of the elections have cost the country, we feel that beyond the figures lies the more fundamental damage – the emotional and psychological injuries inflicted on the budding youth corps members which will invariably affect their thinking and feelings about Nigeria, the land of their infant nurture, in the years ahead.
The INEC leadership owes the corps members engaged for the purposes of adding value to the nation’s electoral process and by implication, its sustainable development, more than the monetary allowances that will be paid to them at the end of the exercise. These young Nigerians deserve decent treatment as against the dehumanizing experiences they went through last Saturday.
As the preparations for the postponed elections continue, the INEC’s leadership must learn from its mistake and assuage the feelings of the thousands of the youths by making sure that proper accommodation, feeding and other necessities are provided for them during the forthcoming elections.
The INEC by its last Saturday’s organizational blunder only confirmed Alvin Toffler’s viewpoint that “the secret message communicated to most young people today by the society around them is that they are not needed, that the society will run itself quite nicely until they – at some distant point in the future – will take over the reigns.
But then, as the author submitted, the commission should remember that the society is not running itself nicely… because the rest” of us need all the energy, brains, imagination and talent that young people can bring to bear down on our difficulties.”
We feel that if Professor Mahmood Yakubu has anything to tell the world about the readiness of the commission for hitch-free elections in the country come February 23 and March 9 this year, it must be first and foremost, arrangements that had been put in place to ensure that thousands of corps members participating in the process are secured, well-catered for and happy in serving the country.
To do otherwise will be tantamount to sowing seeds of bitterness in the minds of the future leaders, bastardising their thinking about the much-touted nation building agenda and by so doing, jeopardizing the future of Nigeria.