Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), Thursday showered praises on the National Youth Service Corps members for their invaluable role in the last general elections in the country just as he paid glowing tribute to the 10 corps members who lost their lives as a result of the post-election riots in the North.
Governor Fashola, who spoke at the Agege Orientation Camp of the NYSC, venue of the passing-out ceremony of Batch B 2010 Corps members posted to the state, also disagreed with calls in some quarters for the abolition of the programme saying, however, that there is need to review its contents.
Describing the abolition call as an overreaction, Governor Fashola declared, “I am of the view that the events that provoked the call can lead us to a better utilization of the programme”, adding that the relevance of the NYSC as a vehicle of social interaction and national unity is undebatable.
According to the Governor, “Part of the question we may ask is that: Can we improve our food production every year, if we commit all our graduates or majority of them to properly organized farm settlements every year?”
“Can we improve on our internal security, if we use the programme to expose our graduates to a one year Military/Police training? Can we improve our healthcare and life expectancy if we subject all our graduates to nursing training and emergency rescue or life saving skills for one year?”
Governor Fashola who said he was personally at the parade to thank all of the Corps members on behalf of himself and his party’s elected representatives for the work they did, declared, “You and your colleagues across Nigeria gave this nation the semblance of a credible electoral process for the first time in her entire history. You have done more than delivering an electoral process that is acceptable”.
“Today, as you leave here with smiles and expectations, some of your colleagues will not be around to share those joyous moments. They do not deserve to be absent. They did everything that was expected of them to entitle them to be here.
They went to schools, toiled and passed their exams and also enlisted to serve Nigeria under the NYSC. Their country also asked for more. She asked them to help in conducting elections which generations before them had failed to conduct successfully”, Governor Fashola said.
“They obliged and produced a credible voters register and, in spite of the challenges, they delivered elections that were adjudged to meet global standards. But instead of being rewarded, they were murdered. The country they serve could not protect them”, he lamented.
The Governor who acknowledged the sacrifice of the slain Corps members, said he drew a strong message from the incident which, according to him, “is that the best days of Nigeria lies ahead of us. They are not behind us. We should not stop serving our country”.
“Let us be positive and be courageous. Let us see this beyond our democracy. We should all resolve that Nigeria is worth dying for so that she can be worth living in. your generation has succeeded where many generations have failed.
You provided reliable voters register and delivered a credible election with very little preparation and against all the odds.
“Can you imagine what could happen if you had all the time to prepare, to lead and to show the way things are done in this country?. That is another reason why I am here; to tell you that nothing is impossible, if your mind can think of it, your hands can achieve it”, Governor Fashola said.