By Chibuike Nwabuko
This was, even as, the Minister read the riot act to those whom he described as “elements who hijacked the National Youth Council of Nigeria” for personal enrichment, while “truncating the vision and mission of youth agenda in Nigeria”.
Dalung was in Gombe for the National Unity Convention of NYCN, after 10 years of inability to hold successful convention, but his convoy was involved in ghastly auto crash while been received at the airport by Amb (Dr.) Dickson Akoh, Chairman of Board of the Council.
The convoy was returning from Gombe airport when, in Akku village, some kilometres away from the city centre, a 406 Peugeot heading to Bauchi rammed into the convoy and somersaulted with flames.
Brand new SUV and another18-seater executive bus belonging to Akoh also somersaulted. Two casualties and several injuries were recorded in the unfortunate incidence.
Briefing newsmen in Gombe, Dalung said the driver of the 406 Peugeot “swapped off immediately he saw the convoy, he panic and swapped off into the right hand side and went into the Bush.
“He manipulated his way trying to come back to the highway but when he came this time, he crossed over and then smashed about 2 or 3 vehicles in the convoy and the car somersaulted, went into flames, one of our vehicles also somersaulted and we have some degrees of injuries and also fracture. From what I was told, we lost one life instantly”.
When asked if he made any effort to rescue the victims, the Minister said “It was only my car and one other car that left the scene immediately, the rest of the convoy reversed back and attended to them and moved them to the hospital and I immediately visited them in the 2 hospitals where they are receiving treatment. As I’m talking right now, 7 people have been discharged out of the number”.
Dalung said as a sign of respect for the departed souls, the election would be shifted to Sunday, saying despite the distractions and antics of those who don’t want the progress of the NYCN, the convention would still hold in Gombe as planned.
“We will not be deterred because we are committed to deliver credible leadership in NYCN. We will proceed”, he said.
The Minister commended the delegates for traveling far distance, “after many years of crisis which had bedevilled the NYCN leadership, from one colour of court order to another one, from one junior faction to another senior one, from one caretaker committee to another sole administration, and different forms of aberration that have truncated the vision and mission of youth agenda in Nigeria”.
He said, “for those who believe that the NYCN is a platform for making wealth, let me advise them, they can join Dangote group of companies, that is where wealth is created; those of us who think we can use the platform of NYCN to blossom our political ambitions, let me advise you that the APC, the PDP and the other 77 political parties are there for you, go and join one of them.
“For those of us who think we are strong and popular and the only place we can take refuge is to surrender ourselves to some powerful politicians who will sponsor us to continue to truncate the vision of the youth of Nigeria, I advise you, there are so many criminal groups, go and join one.
“And for those who believe the youth deserve a voice and the youth of this country are the only national assets we have, and have joined the National Youth Movement selflessly, I say to you my fellow country men, God bless you”.
While assuring the delegates that the federal government has no “preferred candidate” in the Gombe convention, Dalung warned those who are above the “red line” (35 years) to stay clear from the contest, urging them to also consider young women in some positions.
Meanwhile, Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Hassan Dankwambo, has sent his condolences on behalf of the state government, to the families of the 2 young men who lost their lives in the Saturday crash.
Speaking Saturday at the executive sesison of the convention, the Governor also promised to shoulder the hospital bills of those injured, including officers of Peace Corps of Nigeria, directors from Federal Ministry of Sports and Youths Development and the outgoing President of NYCN, Comrade Mayor Enujeko, who is lying in critical condition at the hospital.