prospective National Youth Service Corps members who lost their lives in a ghastly motor accident en route to Katsina State for the programme shares her griefs with PATRICK ODEY
What do you do for a living?
I am a housewife. I am an NCE graduate. I tried my best after graduation to look for a job to no avail. Right now, I farm and produce palm oil to assist my husband in bringing up the children.
How many children do you have?
I have five children. Two have graduated from the university and the elder sister to Victor is currently doing her NYSC programme in Ekiti state.
What went through your mind when you heard about your son’s death?
I did not believe it when I was told about the death of my son. Even now, it is still like a dream to me. I couldn’t believe but I was shown the pictures of the accident; I was mad. And I am not happy in my heart because that boy was a boy after my heart.
Do you remember what it was like raising him?
My husband singlehandedly sponsored him, but it was not easy for us. My husband asked me one day if I wanted my children to go to school and I told him that, since I stopped at NCE level, I wanted my children to go higher. So, I started farming and cooking palm fruits to support my husband. My husband was a health worker, now he is retired.
Since the incident happened, has the NYSC reached out to your family?
It is only God that will reward the NYSC; they have done extremely well, especially the NYSC coordinator in the state. The Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Monday Uko was here with us to represent our state Governor, Udom Emmanuel. The same goes for the Director General, NYSC; it is God that will bless them because they have done so much for the family.
What specifically did they do for the family?
They paid for the air fare of my late son, we wouldn’t have had the money to do all those things they did for us. Even when the corpses arrived at the Victor Attah International airport, they paid for the ambulance that brought the corpse here.
In what way has the state government supported the family?
Governor Emmanuel has done well; he also helped. He sent his Commissioner for Youths and Sports, who was here in person. I have seen what they did but they should do more in order to console me and the family, even the father. Also, the government should care for NYSC members who are going out to serve the nation.
It wasn’t easy for us to raise Victor and sponsor his education up to that level because there are five of them and two have graduated already. The elder sister is serving in Ekiti State.
Do you have any special requests concerning your daughter who is serving in Ekiti State?
I’m appealing to the NYSC for her redeployment back home to complete her NYSC programme because I will not be able to stay without seeing her, since Victor is no more.
What kind of care specifically do you want the state government to have for prospective NYSC members?
Whenever they’re posting prospective NYSC members, the government should assist, especially those posted to faraway towns like the late Victor. They should be cared for by way of subsidising their fares. The government should look for a registered transportation company with experienced drivers to take them to those places. I mean drivers who will listen to the passengers while driving. The survivors of that accident said they told the driver to wait till the following morning before continuing with the journey but the driver refused.
What were your son’s last words before embarking on that journey?
He hugged me and, after hugging me, I told him we shall meet again by the end of August, when he would have left the orientation camp. I told him to seek redeployment and come closer home. The boy cried when I looked at his face. He knelt down at the parlour and his father and I prayed for God to protect him on his journey to Katsina State. But unfortunately, the boy left and, on Monday evening, I took him to Ikot Ekpene, where he took a bike to the plaza at Ikot Ekpene and from there to Uyo, the state capital. He spent that night with his friend in Uyo and on Tuesday morning, he called to say they were going to the University of Uyo gate to board a vehicle to Katsina.
But by midday, I called him and he told me that they had not left yet. Why? He said the driver was waiting for passengers to board the second bus. By 4pm, he called me back to say the bus had moved and I bade him farewell. By the time they reached Enugu, it was about 9pm, he called again to say they stopped to eat. I asked whether they would spend the night at Enugu but he told me the driver said they would continue the journey. Then I went to bed and by 5am in the morning of that day, I received the news that shocked me to the marrow.
What was his favourite pastime?
He was a prayer warrior, a chorister and a young preacher at The Apostolic Church.
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