…Why I skipped NYSC – Communications Minister Shittu
Following the resignation of the Minister of Finance , Mrs Kemi Adeosun, for forging her exemption certificate from the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), another minister serving in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, Mr Adebayo Shittu, has been found to have skipped the mandatory service scheme, an online medium, Premium Times reports.
The offence may see him lose his position and earn a jail term.
Investigation by the online medium revealed that the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, did not participate in the NYSC scheme despite graduating from the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) at the age 25.
The revelation about Mr. Shittu, who is currently angling to become Oyo State governor, is coming to light about a week after Adeosun was compelled to step down from her post over the issue.
Premium Times reports that checks at the NYSC headquarters showed that the communications minister did not present himself for service after graduation and is yet to do so till date.
When contacted, Shittu admitted that he did not serve but claimed he thought his first political post after graduation could suffice as national service, a claim lawyers and NYSC insiders consider as untenable.
Skipping the compulsory national service is an offence under the NYSC law, punishable with up to 12 months imprisonment.
Employers are mandated by law to always request NYSC certificate of national service from employees as part of the conditions for hiring.
Shittu was born on March 23, 1953, studied law at Ife and graduated in 1978. He proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, qualifying as a lawyer in 1979.
Having earned a bachelors degree at the age of 25, Section 2 of the NYSC Act expects Shittu to have participated in the year-long national service.
Section 2 (1) of the NYSC Act mandates all Nigerians who earn degrees or higher national diplomas from tertiary institutions in Nigerian and abroad (effective 1972/73 session) to participate in the scheme.
Those exempted by the law are those who graduated after their 30th birthday, persons with national honours and individuals who serve in the military and intelligence organisations.
Instead of enlisting in the national service, Shittu went into politics after graduation, and was, in 1979, elected member of the Oyo State House of Assembly.
The minister said that he believed that having been elected lawmaker, he needed not participate in the national service.
He said he deliberatively skipped the NYSC scheme because he was convinced that his membership of the state assembly was itself a “service”.
“The constitution provides for the qualification needed for state assembly members, NYSC is not there,” Shittu reportedly said. “I didn’t need it to become a member of the state assembly, and that is already a service,” he was quoted as saying by the online medium.
Shittu also disagreed with Premium Times reporter who laboured to explain to him that the NYSC Act makes participation in the scheme mandatory for all graduates like him and that election or appointment to political office does not qualify as a basis for exemption.
What the Law says on the situation:
But Shittu’s argument does not appear convincing when placed against the letters of the NYSC law.
Section 2, subsection 1 of the Act makes it obligatory for “every Nigerian” who graduate at the end of academic year 1972-73 and subsequent years, “to make himself available for service for a continuous period of one year from the date specified in the call-up instrument served upon him”.
Subsection 2 of the same section enumerated instances of exemption from the national service, which did not include holding political office, as Shittu claimed.
The four categories of individuals exempted from the national service, according to the NYSC law, are those who graduated above the age of 30 and those who have served in the armed forces or the Nigeria Police for a period of more than nine months.
The third category covers staff of four security organisations, namely the Nigerian Security Organisation, the State Security Service, the National Intelligence Agency and the Defence Intelligence Service.