Averting untimely deaths – The Nation

  • Corps members must shun avoidable travels even as governments should fix bad roads

With about 60 National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members lost to road crashes in different parts of the country in the last year, it has become necessary to warn corps members against frivolous journeys even as it is important for governments, state and federal, to ensure that our  roads are motorable. NYSC director-general, Brigadier-General Suleiman Kazaure, told corps members during his visit to the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp in Wannune, Tarka Local Government Area of Benue State that they should avoid making unnecessary travels, and that when they must travel, they should get the approval of their state coordinators or the director-general as the case may be.

“Do not embark on unnecessary journeys. Any journey you want to embark on, especially if it is outside the state, make sure you get the permission of the state coordinator and if it is outside Nigeria, get the permission of the DG because so many corps members are dying. Last year, we recorded not less than 60 deaths of corps members.”

Obviously, the figure excludes the two youth corps members who died on Tuesday alongside other passengers that were travelling home to reunite with their relations for the Yuletide. The two had just completed their orientation camping in Enugu and Taraba states when the accident occurred. One of them, according to reports, broke his spinal cord in the tragic accident that left the vehicles involved in the accident mangled. Also, in February, at least two 2016 Batch B Stream 2 corps members died in a road accident.

This has always been the trend. It explains why the admonition by the NYSC authorities is necessary. In our part of the world, most parents train their children with the hope that the children so trained would take care of them in old age. Therefore, no parent would be happy to see their children on whom they had invested a lot of money and care to just die without fulfilling their destiny.

However, the issue goes beyond asking youth corps members to avoid travels. There will sometimes be compelling reasons for them to travel. At least, many of them have to travel to their states of deployment and back. These cannot qualify for frivolous travels.

The point is that some of our corps members have only been unfortunate to experience what many other Nigerians experience daily on our roads. Many Nigerians have died in avoidable road crashes, unsung and, perhaps, unreported.  But the corps members cannot be treated as mere statistics when they are involved in road accidents because of their peculiar circumstances that make it imperative for those watching over them to keep tabs on their movements. s

Governments must be ready to play their part in reducing road accidents. They should fix the death traps that pass for roads in many parts of the country. Road signs appear to be going out of fashion even as many drivers exhibit so much indiscipline on the roads, without sparing a thought for other road users. This manifests through over-speeding, dangerous and drunk-driving, especially on the part of commercial vehicle operators. The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and other government agencies charged with ensuring sanity on the highways have to wake up to their responsibilities.

We sympathise with the relatives of youth corps members who died in road crashes and pray that God will give them the fortitude to bear the loss. We hasten to add, too, that since we have known the inadequacies on our highways, prevention is better than cure: That is to say, our NYSC members in particular, and Nigerians generally, should avoid unnecessary travels. Information and Communication technology has revolutionised the way we do things such that it is possible to avoid journeys that are not compelling.

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