Another minister serving in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet has been found to have skipped the mandatory national youth service scheme, an offence that may see him lose his position and earn him jail term.
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, failed to participate in the NYSC scheme despite graduating from the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU) at age 25, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report.
The revelation about Mr. Shittu, who is currently angling to become Oyo State governor, is coming to light about a week after Kemi Adeosun was compelled to step down from her post as Nigeria’s finance minister after this medium reported that she skipped national service and then procured a fake exemption certificate to cover her tracks.
Months of discreet 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.
Contacted Tuesday, Mr. 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 ludicrous and 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.
Mr Shittu, born on March 23, 1953, studied law at OAU, graduating 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 Mr Shittu to have participated in the year-long national service.
The minister said 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,” Mr. Shittu said. “I didn’t need it to become a member of the state assembly, and that is already a service,” he said.
Mr Shittu disagreed with our 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.