There was free flow of tears and expression of grief in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, as the bodies of five prospective National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members, who died in a road accident, in a cruel twist of fate, arrived the state for interment in a C-130 Nigerian Air Force jet marked NAF917 and landed at the Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, around 12:19p.m., yesterday.
Many couldn’t hold back tears as the bodies, draped in the national and NYSC flags, were lowered from the jet. The finality of a botched dream for the young lads, who had looked forward to donning the NYSC khakis and serve their fatherland for a year, sunk in as gloom enveloped the airport.
The deceased, who were on their way to the NYSC camp in Katsina State, were involved in an accident along Abaji-Kwali Expressway, Abuja. The deceased included Innocent Upere and Victor Akpan, both graduates of Mass Communication, Akwa Ibom State Polytechnic; Miracle Asuquo, graduate of Psychology; Stella Ekikoh, graduate of Sociology and Anthropology and Coleman Ezuruike, graduate of History and International Studies, the three were graduates of the University of Uyo.
Ms Ekikoh, an indigene of Ekpemiong Itak and Mr Akpan, an indigene of Nung Ukim Ikot Abia, both in Ikono council area, were buried in their hometowns.
Following the losses, family members of the deceased called on the state government to assist them financially, especially the bereaved parents, who lost their children while answering the call to national service.
Families that received corpses of their children lamented that parents of the victims, were either sick, bedridden and that their conditions worsened with the news of the deaths.
They also urged the state government to subsidise flight fares for corps members, whenever they were mobilised to camps or travelling long distances to their places of primary assignment to avert future incidents that could be induced by road transport.
The bereaved families added that government should, henceforth, provide organised transportation and liaise with registered transport companies to convey corps members to their various destinations.
Speaking, Reverend Isaiah Ekanem, an uncle to one of the deceased, Victor Akpan, charged government to post corps members within their geographical zones to avert such occurrences.
He said: “A major challenge of the NYSC has been road accidents. Victor, aged 23, a prophet, peacemaker and shinning star with leadership talents was cut short suddenly. The incident calls for prayers at a time like this, but as children of God, we submit to God’s will. It is a tragedy.”
On his part, Evangelist James, who is an uncle to Stella Ekiko, enjoined the government to assist siblings of the deceased by giving them automatic employment to cushion the effect of the tragedy.
Some corps members, who escaped death and are currently at the orientation camp in Katsina, asked the government to redeploy them from Katsina to help reduce the psychological trauma some them were still passing through.
MEANWHILE, after the ‘honour’ done to the fallen corps members, some Nigerians went on social media to vent their anger on the country’s leaders. Some of them expressed shock that the bodies of the young graduates who died in a road accident were airlifted home when the government could not provide air ticket for them when they were alive.
In her comment on a Facebook post, Sarah Abia wrote: “What is the need? What joy can it bring now? Dying by road, transported to be buried by aircraft. Oh God, deliver us from hypocrisy of this nation. May their souls rest in peace.”
For Womi Iwara: “In this country, we respect the dead more than the living. Those persons may not have flown in an aircraft before but now that they are dead, they are being brought home with aircraft in a coffin, honouring them as if after service there would have been job for them, rest in peace my fellow hustling Nigerians.”
Emem Okon said: “Why didn’t they put them in the aircraft to the camp. Now their dead bodies are brought back in an aircraft. Is this not medicine after death? Is this not eye service and hypocrisy of the highest order? I pray God comfort their families and friends.”