A former member of the National Youth Service Corps, Stephen Alao, who was involved in an accident during the 2019 general election, while serving in Kebbi State, has called on both the NYSC and the Independent National Electoral Commission, to pay him the compensation that was agreed upon at the National Assembly.
Alao shared with us how his health challenge has rendered him almost unable to do anything.
On March 8, 2019, the eve of the governorship and state House of Assembly elections, Stephen Alao, a then corps member serving in Kebbi State, was involved in a fatal accident. His skin was pierced, his body stuck in the fragmented vehicle in which he travelled. Blood gushed out of his right ear, eye and nostrils.
Rescuers thought he was dead until help came his way. He regained consciousness after several hours.
Alao, a 28-year-old indigene of Oka-Akoko in Ondo State, was among the 16,000 ad hoc workers recruited by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2019 general elections in Kebbi State.
According to the graduate of Geography and Planning Science from the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba, Ondo State, he was among the 2018 Batch C Stream II corps members in Kebbi State with state code KB/18C/2282. He served at the 223 Battalion Nigerian Army, Zuru and taught Geography at the Army Day Boys High School.
For the 2019 general elections, he was deployed in Tundu-Bichi 1 Polling Unit at Ribah, Danko-Wasagu Local Government Area of the state. The distance between Zuru, his place of primary assignment, and Ribah (about 32km) was less than an hour.
He successfully travelled for the presidential election on February 23, 2019. But he nearly lost his life two weeks later when he travelled for the March 9, 2019 governorship election
On the eve of the governorship election, Alao said he left the INEC office at Zuru around 8pm after collecting the electoral materials needed for the election and boarded a saloon car heading for Ribah. He said he sat at the front with another passenger, making three people who sat at the front with the driver. Four passengers sat at the back. The road was well paved, so the driver raced to get to their destination on time. But that was a huge mistake that cost two passengers their lives.
“We were close to Ribah when the accident occurred. I learnt that excess speeding caused it. It was dark and the vehicle’s headlamps were not bright. Our vehicle ran into a ditch and hit an electric pole. Two passengers died. They had to disintegrate the car before we were pulled out.
“I was informed that a pastor in the community mobilised his church members to take us to the hospital that night,” Alao told Sunday PUNCH.
He and other injured passengers were thereafter admitted to the General Hospital at Ribah, where he regained consciousness after several hours.
He added, “I was the only corps member among the passengers. When I regained consciousness, I saw blood trickling from my right ear.
“I was referred to the Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto, that same night. A military ambulance from my PPA took me from Ribah to Sokoto. A female colleague escorted me on the journey of about four hours. I was admitted to the Neurophysiological Department for three weeks. I couldn’t talk or walk, so I used a stretcher throughout the period. An NYSC official and some INEC officials visited me.”
Alao said after three weeks of treatment, he was discharged from UDUTH. Though he could now walk and talk, he noticed his right eye was partially blind and he could no longer hear with his right ear.
“My eardrum was damaged, I was told. Until now, my right ear made a lot of noise and I can’t use it to hear. I cannot also see long distant objects clearly again,” he said.
Alao said doctors at the UDUTH referred him to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital to continue his treatment, so he sought redeployment from Kebbi State to Lagos State to continue his service year while going to the hospital for treatment. At the time, he still had six months to serve.
However, Alao stated that he was disappointed as he was left alone to cater for his treatment at the hospital afterwards, and even after his service year ended in October 2019.
He said, “INEC has abandoned me; they have not done anything for me. The only thing they did was to pay my transport fare from Kebbi to Lagos when I was redeployed. They were supposed to pay for my flight but they asked me to board a bus. On the day I travelled to Lagos from Kebbi, I spent 28 hours on the road. As a result of this, I had a rib fracture.