Nigeria’s Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Solomon Dalung, has disclosed the cause of the road mishap which befell his convoy in Gombe on Saturday.
This was even as the Minister read the riot act to youths, including 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 who was in Gombe for the National Unity Convention of the NYCN, the first to be successfully held in the last 10 years, explained how his convoy got involved in a ghastly accident in which a driver was burnt to death after being received at at the airport by Ambassador 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.
Briefing newsmen in Gombe, Dalung said the driver of the 406 Peugeot, immediately he sighted the convoy, panicked and “swerved off the road into the bush.
“He manipulated his way trying to come back to the highway but when he came this time, he crossed over, smashed about two or three vehicles in the convoy, somersaulted and went into flames.
“One of our vehicles also somersaulted and we have some degrees of injuries.
“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 cars in the convoy remained to move all those involved to the hospital for medical attention.
“I have visited them in the two hospitals where they are receiving treatment.
“As I am talking right now, seven people have been discharged so far.”
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.
The Minister commended the delegates for traveling that far for the election, adding: “We will not be deterred because we are committed to deliver credible leadership in NYCN.
“We will proceed.
“After many years of crisis, which had bedeviled 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.
“For those who believe that the NYCN is a platform for making wealth, let me advice 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 advice you that the All Progressives Congress, the Peoples Democratic Party 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 advice 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, the Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo, has sent his condolences on behalf of the state government to the families of the two young men who lost their lives in the Saturday crash.
Speaking at the executive session 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 the NYCN, Comrade Mayor Enujeko, who is lying in critical condition at the hospital.