Shedding Southern Nigerians’ blood for phantom “unity” must stop

Posted by on May 2, 2011 ·

by Tola Adenle

[It was more painful than baffling to read Isa Yuguda’s outburst about the deaths of several youth corps members in Bauchi, the state he governs.  He was quoted by several newspapers as saying "As far as I am concerned, these corps members were destined to experience what they experienced during the course of their service to their fatherland because every new day is a new experience to each and every one of us as human beings … my house was burnt and my first son was almost killed … I was attacked in 1979 at Oyo State during my NYSC.” In a screaming headline, The Punch captured the mood of right-thinking people when he described Yuguda’s mindless utterances as spitting on the dead corpers’ graves.

I remember I once wrote about this guy; he either won in marriage the hands of one of Yar Adua's marrying daughters who all seemed to be loved by state governors OR he wanted to marry one.  After getting to the Bauchi State governor's lodge on ANPP platform, he defected to the PDP - Late President Yar Adua's party so that he could "get federal support to execute our programs ..."  Quite expedient apart from not springing from his conviction.  Now, he has really shown what kind of a human being he is.

Is this the kind of heartless utterance needed at this time of great problems that arose as a result of same insensivity?

Here is my posting at  after I had read the news report:


Submitted by tola adenle on April 30, 2011 - 19:02.

 We've never been one nation because not only our languages but we have very different cultures, different values and different outlook on life.  There are Muslims in the SW but they do not think along the same line with Yuguda.  While many are struggling to make this union of disparate nationalities work, people like Yuguda who have never contributed anything to this country are making light of losses of lives of those youth. I've written many times that it was time to scrap the NYSC, one of which "Shedding Southern blood for phantom unity must stop" received over 200 hundred SMSes. This is a real shame.




I dug out the following from my files to state again – as many are doing – to repeat that it is time to put an end to this program.  The article was just another of a series I had written on the subject over the years. 

The gang-raping to death of Miss Grace Ushang, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) participant in Maiduguri for wearing the NYSC regulation uniforms – a pair of khaki pants (trousers) and top – is not the first in a long line of targeted religious killings in Northern Nigeria.  Just last year, a Southern parent listened on the phone to what must be indescribable horror as an NYSC son cried out on his mobile phone at approaching frenzied fanatic Jos Muslims who later slaughtered him in cold blood. The barbaric slaughter of a school teacher by her students because of alleged “desecration” of the Quran made gory news.

Things were not always this bad but with selfish politicians whipping up the army of uneducated young Northerners who are also victims, there has been a sharp rise in anti-Christian violence.  The rise has coincided with the unconstitutional declaration of Sharia in some Northern States which retired General Obasanjo’s (rGO) presidency condoned, hoping if he let bad-enough alone, he would get his self-perpetuation project through.

Contrary to what a few readers, including one that believes I “represent Christianity” on this paper have expressed, I am not anti-Islam; interestingly, some have also questioned my claim to Christianity because of several essays against Nigeria’s brand of cash-and-carry Christianity that I’ve written.  I cannot find a single essay, though, in which I’ve leveled any criticism at Islam.   However, if questioning how or why the U.S. ambassador in Nigeria would acknowledge that she contacted the Sultan of Sokoto to nominate traditional rulers to meet the U.S. Secretary of State during her visit – he is head of a section of traditional rulers – is considered anti-Islam, then Nigeria is in worse danger than most think.

Practising what one believes must not impinge on others’ rights, especially the right to life.  The time has come that those who take others’ lives, and/or encourage others to do so, or deny others room to practise their religion and/or culture in the name of religion must be made to face the law.  It is convenient for these religious zealots to see in any opinion that they believe challenges what they see as the way things must be, discounting even the voices of Southerners like Wole Soyinka who criticized not only the Boko Haram killings but the judicial killings of the sect leaders that deprived them fair hearing.

Sadly, Ms. Ushang, like many before her, died in vain.  She was not in the North as a Christian missionary nor was she wearing any so-called “indecent” outfits.  She belonged to the NYSC and wore the Corp’s uniforms but I may as well – as the American saying goes – go tell that to the Marines, a no-nonsense elite corps whose duties include guarding all U.S. foreign missions.  Grace did not fit the zealots’ image of how a woman should be dressed, official posting by a Corps whose main purpose was designed to “unify the country” or not, she had to die.  Her pants/trousers are “indecent” to religious extremists – and, perhaps, to the overpaid, overfed and mostly hands of Esau “lawmakers” before whom is an “Indecent Dressing Bill” now at an advanced stage.  I wrote when the Bill was introduced by Mrs. Ekaete – one of many husband/wife pairings that now dominate Nigeria’s political space – not only about the chasing shadows that the Bill would represent but my surprise about the quarters the Bill emanated from.  In Nigeria, things are rarely what they seem.  There are hypocritical members of the Assembly whose sensibilities may be “offended” by young women in skimpy clothes but the nature of Nigeria devolves the “hurt” being translated into a law of the land by a Christian woman from the South.  No Muslim Northerner would probably have introduced such a bill. While I understand the woman has a Church title, and while I know that many pastors these days frown on the strapless wedding dresses that are today’s rage, I’m sure Church Officer/Leader/Chief Ekaete knew and knows how better to fight societal ills.

When Osun State’s legislators went on the same misadventure some years ago, I wrote that morality CANNOT be legislated.  I’m sure Mrs. Ekaete knows this; so does she, I hope, realize the many areas in which she and her colleagues can actually make a big difference to Nigeria and justify the billions they earn.  Ekaete became a Senator when her husband was rGO’s Secretary to Government and Chief Ekaette – the man, that is – is now the Minister of Niger Delta.   Judging from her name, Ms. Ushang might have hailed from Ekaette’s area of Nigeria.

While the Freedom of Information Bill is in limbo, the National Assembly is not only moving full speed to pass the “Indecent Dressing Bill” to please a section of the country but is hard at work on a Bill that would prevent assembly members from being arrested for crimes – Bill against arbitrary arrest.  The sponsor, Henry Dickson’s logic: “… you can only arrest a member when there’s a warrant from a court … not when there is an allegation…”  I say – Nigeria does not need these “lawmakers” who allocated billions to themselves for snacks!  If you agree, simply text ‘yes’ to 0808, 592-7934.  The phone does not get picked up.

The NYSC – like the so-called “unity schools” – has long outlived its usefulness and should be disbanded.  Some years ago, I suggested that the secondary schools should be handed over by the central government to each state where they are located.  Reason?  The kids are not well-served by the system even in top-rated Queen’s and King’s Colleges where students’ parents purportedly pay bribes for beds!  Merit counts for little in admission which favor kids of top government functionaries and politicians leading to at least one court case some years ago.  It’s almost impossible for someone from my kind of background to enter QC these days; it wasn’t back in the fifties when admission was merit-based.  I’m not even sure they were “unity” schools back then.  The most important reason I gave in the essay was – and remains – that too much money is being spent on very few pupils.

Like many, Afenifere has raised its voice to condemn this latest slaughter of an innocent girl, warning “that the determination of this case will dictate the South-West’s subsequent directives to our sons and daughters as per their participation in the programme …” The group recalls that wearing trousers led to Ms. Ushang’s death just as what happened “… in fundamentalist Sudan where a female journalist was jailed by a Sharia court for wearing trousers …” Do not dismiss Afenifere; I witnessed commotion caused by Nigerian Police officers chasing trouser wearers at downtown Ibadan (near the old Leventis) in Buhari-ruled Nigeria.

The NYSC as a supposed unifier has outlived the purpose for which it was created although the unstated purpose of providing endless supply of personnel who are not generally in line for permanent employment after the service years if they so desire – remains strong.  If young Southerners are needed in the North but are not wanted, the government that sends them there has to educate the region of the imperative for tolerance because without the kids, the parts of the region would have serious manpower problems.  Rather than unify Nigeria, Corpers being regularly killed by Islamic fanatics is creating divisiveness.  While one does not subscribe to frightening words/scenarios by web bloggers, nobody would dismiss one that suggests “the NYSC secretariat should stop posting these youths to [expletives]. Losing a child is painful enough.”  The Nation on Sunday, October 11, 2009.

Here are a few of the readers’ responses some weeks later. I’m using these selections to show how deep feelings against the program run.  By the way, I served in 1975/76, missing the age cut-off mark by months.

“If this government is serious, Ms. Ushang’s killing by religious fanatics will be the last of such.” Anonymous  SMS.

Don’t deceive yourself my dear Sister Tola Adenle.  Shedding Southern Nigerians’ blood will continue till the entity named Nigeria is no more.  … Kola Fabusola.            0808, 070-2970

Yes, Bless U Tola for your courage, but have U noticed dat girls from d core north are never posted to d South?    0805, 141-8654

I feel sorry for d northern minorities, ‘cannon fodders’! Anon.

I’ve always said dat no amount of kudos is too much for the Nigerian journalist… Its really sad to see how a once great country has become a laughing stock among d comity of nations … Ppl like U r d real patriots of this country.  Don’t want to imagine what wd become of Nig in d absence of journalists … Cy, Abuja. 0803, 327-7157.

Dear Tola … my advice to anyone whose son or daughter is killed by those islamists is dat they should simply kill a Northern Muslim here.  Tag d body… “Revenge killing” …For me, God forbid it.  But if it happens many northern muslims will pay dearly. Anon.

“The killings will continue as long as we in the South do nothing about this geographical expression called Nigeria.  0703, 272-8101…

YES EMPHATICALLY.  Please do keep up the good work of eternal vigilance people like U are doing as conscience and gatekeepers of the nation’s socio-politico fabric.  May Ur perceptive mind never be tired … Asueni Okolobi, Kpansia, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.  0803, 673-2942//

Tola my sister, you have spoken, written well with very good thoughts.  Who listens is another thing.  I sympathise with the Southerners …  Orji, Enugu.          0808, 667-57788



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