Members of the 2012 Batch A National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) serving in Nasarawa State, today, disrupted their passing out parade with a protest against the non-payment of stipends by the state government.
The youth corps members in their numbers trooped to the Lafia-Akwanga Road in front of College of Agriculture, where their passing out parade was to take place, and held up traffic for hours, beginning from about 9am, when dignitaries where expected to start arriving.
The corps members bearing fresh leaves barricaded the major highway with branches of trees, defying the presence of truckloads of armed policemen. It took the intervention of the state deputy governor, Dameshi Barau Luka who was accompanied by the state NYSC coordinator, Mr. Stephen Akin Alabi, to restore order after two hours.
Luka, while appealing to the corps members to bear with the government, explained that the situation was due to inadequate data collection. He said the state government only knew that corps members were owed on Wednesday and commenced processes to pay them their entitlements.
“When we got the notice yesterday, we went into an action to know why because the present administration has never broken the procedure of the payment. We have been working with the NYSC state director to solve the problem,” the deputy governor said.
He said a committee was promptly set up to pay, naming the state Auditor-General Yusuf Gani, as its chairman.
The protesting coprs members told newsmen that they were being owed between six and 12 months of stipends from the state government, and vowed not to leave the state without their allowances.
“The protest is our last resort. We complained between Monday and Tuesday. We were told our problem would be addressed before our passing out. We were surprised that NYSC coordinator and the state government went ahead to organize our passing out without first addressing our problem as promised”, one of the corps members is quoted as saying.
They said the amount the state government undertook to pay them was N4,000 each. A total of 2,600 corps members were expected to pass out today.
The payments commenced around 3pm but ran into a hitch when names of some corps members were missing from the list of persons for local allowances. The development sparked another round of protests, with corps members hurling stones at the ministry’s building along Jos Road.
Despite the pleas by armed policemen on ground, the corps members refused to be pacified.