Temitope Lamina was on her way back to Sokoto where she was undergoing the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme when she met her untimely death. She had visited Lagos to see her mother, Morikat, who successfully concluded the pilgrimage to Mecca. Mr. Lateef Lamina has not ceased crying since his daughter’s departure. He drove her to the motor park that fateful Sunday morning.” I still vividly recall the last time I saw her. She was returning to her post in Sokoto.I took her to Iddo (Lagos) Park.
I remember looking at the vehicle (Toyota Sienna) that she boarded. For reasons I could not understand, I felt uneasy. I asked one of the conductors at the park if he was sure the Sienna wouldn’t be involved in a crash on the way. I bid her farewell,” the father said.
When Lamina last got in touch with his daughter, it was 11.30pm and she was still in Kaduna dropped off by the same driver who had given assurance that the vehicle was travelling to Sokoto. Left to her fate, Temitope stood on the road until she found a Golf car that was heading to the seat of the Caliphate. Unfortunately, she did not make it.
The car was crushed by a heavy duty vehicle. Lamina could not hold back tears anymore. “The Sienna driver told us he was travelling to Sokoto. I begged him to drive carefully to avoid accident,” he added. By 4.30am, father received a call announcing his daughter’s death. The body was already in the morgue, according to the caller.
The shock of Temitope’s death has now turned to a burden. Right from the day she was posted to Sokoto, her father cried to family and friends that he was not comfortable especially with all the stories of insurgency from the North. Lamina sought help from anyone, just anyone who could convince the NYSC to get the young woman out of that region. He found none.
Lamina was not asking for too much, he was just playing his role as a concerned father. He also has another daughter, Khadija, serving in Kebbi. He wondered why his children should be so unlucky to be posted to the troubled part of our country, far away from home. Today, he is a sad man having lost one and unable to live with the thought that another is still up there.
What an irony that a family that gathered to celebrate their matriach’s safe return from Saudi Arabia is now mourning one of their own. It was for the simple reason of seeing her mom that the NYSC member excused herself from duty. Temitope was restless as she read about the stampede in Mina and the casualty figures.
She prayed all along for her mother. When mother and daughter embraced themselves,they were all tears. Tears of joy have now become tears of sorrow. Temitope, a Mass Communications graduate of the University of Benin, was attached to the state owned Rima Television, Sokoto.
Perhaps, time has come for President Buhari to buy into the plan by the NYSC to make participation optional . The scheme may not have outlived it’s usefulness, it has grown so large that even the government that set it up cannot manage it effectively.