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No fewer than 40 serving members of the National Youth Service Corps lost their lives in road traffic crashes from January 2018 till date, according to findings by Sunday PUNCH.
However, 98 corps members survived the crashes with varying degrees of injury during the review period.
A breakdown showed that eight died in 2018, nine in 2019, two in 2020, 14 in 2021 and seven so far in 2022.
Fifty-two corps members were injured in different road traffic crashes in 2018; 30 in 2019; 14 in 2021; and two so far this year.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that many of the victims were on their way to or from the three-week orientation programme in various camps when they were involved in the crashes.
In February this year, a fatal crash claimed the lives of two prospective corps members, who were on their way to the NYSC camp in Adamawa State for the mandatory orientation exercise.
The victims were identified as Nana Kila from Jigawa State and Said Ibrahim, a graduate of Bayero University, Kano.
A female corps member was among the passengers, who reportedly lost their lives in a boat accident between Otuan and Ayama communities of the Southern Ijaw Local Government Areas of Bayelsa State in June.
In July, two corps members lost their lives and two others sustained injuries in a motor accident on their way to Kaduna State.
They were said to be returning home after the 2022 Batch “B” Stream One orientation course in Adamawa State.
On July 28, 2021, five students of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, lost their lives in a car crash on the Abaji-Kwali highway in Abuja, while going to the NYSC camp in Katsina State.
A few days after concluding their orientation course in Taraba State in 2021, four corps members from Yobe State died in a road crash, while others were injured.
Also, 22-year-old Tony Zitta was killed on July 29, 2018 when a vehicle rammed into his car in Abuja.
The NYSC in Katsina State confirmed the death of three corps members in a fatal crash in the Kankara Local Government Area of the state on August 18, 2018.
Similarly, 37 NYSC members were involved in an accident shortly after leaving the orientation camp in Sagamu, Ogun State, in August 2018. Luckily, no one died, but some sustained injuries.
In another tragic development, nine corps members serving in Taraba State drowned in the River Mayo-Selbe in the Gashaka Local Government Area of the state in August 2018.
The immediate past Director-General, NYSC, Maj. Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, in an interview with Sunday PUNCH said road accidents accounted for most of the deaths recorded during the service year.
“We need to monitor the corps members and because we monitor them effectively, the rate of movement here and there is reduced, thereby reducing accidents, because road accidents account for most of the deaths recorded during the service year and most corps members embark on journeys without authorisation,” he said.
Ainoyi Omeiza, who served in Oyo State in 2016, recalled the death of a fellow corps member in an auto crash a few months to her wedding.
“Her wedding was a few months away. Just after our passing out parade, she had a bad crash on her way back home. In the end, she died; she never completed her service and never walked down the aisle. It was a sad situation,” Omeiza said.
Ngozi Chukwuka expressed sorrow over the loss of her friend, identified simply as Chinedu, during his service year in Lagos.
She stated, “Chinedu died in 2018. He used to be my senior back then in school. He served in Lagos and was going to Abia State when he was involved in an accident and died. Imagine the loss to his family and Nigeria because he was involved in politics, and I even think he got an award during our service year.”
The NYSC could not be reached for comment, but a non-government organisation, Kwapda’as Road Safety Demand Foundation, identified excessive speed and distractions as the major causes of traffic accidents.
The Programme Director of the foundation, Ayomide Akinpelu, said, “I know many corps members have been involved in road traffic crashes. According to statistics of the World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report on Road Safety, the number one cause of death for young people globally is road crashes. It is a menace that has killed so many dreams not only in Nigeria, but around the world.
“Another cause is distractions, not only the drivers but as well as the pedestrians. However, we have been campaigning for safer roads, especially for children and youths. One of the things we have been doing is to ensure that we create awareness among the youth.”