The National Youth Service Corps has begun the processing of the N1m insurance cover for the family of Precious Owolabi, the Channels Television journalist and serving corps member, who was shot dead last Monday during a bloody protest by the members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria.
Our correspondents learnt that an insurance company usually engaged by the NYSC to pay the insurance cover had been notified of Owolabi’s death, and as is the practice, had begun the preparations for the payment of the insurance benefit.
This is just as insurance experts and a civil society organisation on Saturday called for an upward review of the insurance cover by the Federal Government.
They noted that although money could not redeem life, corps members who die on duty deserve more compensation than is presently provided for.
Authoritative sources at the NYSC told one of our correspondents that the insurance was usually paid to any late corps member’s next of kin.
The NYSC authorities had on Tuesday mourned Owolabi’s death and visited the National Hospital, Garki, Abuja, to commiserate with another injured journalist with Leadership Newspapers and serving corps member, Aliyu Suleiman, who was injured in the Shiites protest.
The NYSC Director-General, Brig. Gen. Shuaibu Ibrahim, had led other management officials to the morgue of the National Hospital to receive Owolabi’s corpse and convey it by an official ambulance to his parents in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Owolabi was later buried on Thursday.
The NYSC had said, “The management is deeply saddened by the sudden and unfortunate death of Owolabi, FC/18C/5226, whose untimely death occurred while on an official assignment during the Shiites’ and police clash in Abuja.
“Until his death, Owolabi, a graduate of Performing Arts from the University of Ilorin was a serving corps member with Channels Television. He was loaded with prospects in journalism profession. We join the entire family of Owolabi in this moment of grief and pray that the Almighty God console them and repose the soul of the departed.”
One of the NYSC sources said, “The next of kin of any corps member who dies during the national service will be paid an insurance benefit of N1m.
“The processing will cover the death certificate and other documentation. There is an insurance company that handles it for the NYSC.
“All the corps members usually fill forms indicating their next of kin, names, addresses and other contact details. So, the insurance company has the duty to inform the next of kin. There is no corps member who died during the national service that was not paid the insurance package.
“For Owolabi, the processing is ongoing. As we speak, the insurance company might have been notified. The same was done for Okanlawon Ibrahim, the corps member who died on duty as an ad hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission in Ondo State on March 29. So, it is our standard practice.”
The NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Mrs Adenike Adeyemi, had yet to reply to an inquiry sent to her phone as of press time.
Meanwhile, underwriters in the country confirmed to our correspondents that relatives of corps members who die during the programme are given N1m compensation.
The insurers noted that apart from death, youth corps members who suffer permanent disability will also get N1m compensation under the insurance provision.
One of the underwriters, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said the cover would soon be paid to Owolabi’s family.
The President, Association of Registered Insurance Agents of Nigeria, Ademola Ifagbayi, said, “Looking at the dangers involved with many corps members travelling to remote locations and for assignments, there is a need for such insurance cover.
“However, if you look at parents’ investments in their children to that level, coupled with the hopes and aspirations that they have, I believe the Federal Government should increase the value of the insurance cover to about N5m.
“Apart from the cover done by the Federal Government, the states can also complement such insurance covers, and corps members can themselves get additional insurance cover. This is a way to encourage the insurance culture in this country.
“It is quite unfortunate; no parent can equate the lives of their children with money. But when sad things happen, such covers could serve as a relief.”
Also, the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers, Mr Fatai Adegbenro, said, “For the government to have deemed it fit to provide insurance cover for the corps members is commendable, but one can now debate the amount if it is necessary to review it upward.”
The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership said if political office holders could be earning jumbo allowances, then the Federal Government must immediately review the insurance.
The Executive Chairman, CACOL, Debo Adeniran, said, “These youths should be protected like chickens and they should not lose their lives to causes that are not worth it.
“The regular insurance cover should be more than N1m. As much as we cannot quantify human life, these youths are on a compulsory service and the onus lies on the Federal Government to ensure that in case of a collateral damage, the family of such corps member should be adequately compensated. The insurance must be reviewed upwards.”
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