Published on April 21st, 2011 | by Olumide2
What About Us? Open Letter to Mr President
Dear Mr President,
I write as a youth corper who has, like most serving members of the Natonal Youth Service Corps, been actively involved in the elections.
I am sure that you are aware, Sir, of our gallant efforts to help achieve our collective goal of free and fair elections in Nigeria. We have worked hard in the spirit of true service and devotion to our fatherland. I am glad that our efforts have been lauded both by your government and the international community. I can confidently state that most of us are proud to be instruments of change and are thankful for the opportunity to serve our country at this critical moment.
It is with dismay however, that we have watched as many of our colleagues have become victims of pre and post election violence, particularly in the North. We have read in the news of an attempt to burn 50 corpers alive in a church. We have also read of incidences of the cold-blooded murder of some corpers. As an individual, I have read Facebook updates from friends, many of whom are stranded and have had to live as refugees in military barracks. Some tell stories of watching as human beings are slaughtered right in front of them. As you would expect, Sir, most of them live in fear, discomfort and have lost all enthusiasm for the electioneering work. Many would give anything to return to the peace of their own states.
It is therefore on this note that I would like to appeal to you, Sir, to reconsider your decision to go ahead with the governorship elections scheduled for Tuesday, 26th April. Although I appreciate the toughness of your stance and assurances on security, I would like to point out that the Northern region is already in a state of high mistrust and volatility. Even the tiniest incident could lead to major upheaval. I want to remind you, Sir, that some of the people whose houses were razed are prominent people of high authority in the North. If they were not spared, how much more youth corpers? Many of the hooligans behind these attacks already consider us to be targets! Besides, I can authoritatively say that a good number of youth corpers are not going to show up at the polling units on Tuesday. If that happens, would INEC conduct emergency training sessions for replacement staff and still have them prepared by Tuesday? Again, with the violence, there is likely to be a low number of voters. This is synonymous with voter intimidation and gives easy room for rigging.
Sir, I am of the opinion that a postponement of at least one week is in order. Funds, security and transportation should also be provided to corp members where necessary. As important as the electioneering process is, I must remind you of your own words: no man’s ambition is worth the blood of others. If the elections should be held on the currently proposed date of Tuesday 26th, it would take a miracle for it not to be the worst in the history of this country. I will willingly join you, Sir, in praying for that miracle. However, it would not matter to the parents of dead, incacerated or missing corp members if the elections actually held or was won by any one. In this case, even a battle between security operatives and thugs might just be the proverbial case of two elephants fighting with the corp members being the grass to suffer the injuries.
Finally Sir, I wish to remind you of one of your campaign promises which was to build Almanjiri schools. As much as I blame everyone who perpetuated this evil act, I must point out that the Almanjiris are merely products of the society in which they live. They are brought up to think and act as they do by the society. If there are no schools, how can we blame them for jumping into unlearned and illogical conclusions? If all the money meant for developing their communities is embezzled by wicked politicians while they are left to hero-worship these same politicains and beg for meals, can we honestly blame them when they revolt? I submit to you Sir, that in order to reap apples, we must plant apples, not tomatoes. Almanjiris are not of any different genetical formation from those of us who are from more previledged parts of the country. The society makes them into who they are.
Today’s violence is but a warning. A warning that if their minds are not developed, they would tear down the nation we have struggled so hard to build.
I thank you, Sir, for your time and wait in eager anticipation of your next line of action.
NYSC, Osun State
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