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Musawa should defer ministerial duties to complete National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC)— Report

Three years after two former ministers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria were caught up in National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) certificate controversies, one of the 45 ministers recently appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has again resurrected the argument on the essence of the mandatory one-year service to the Nigerian nation..…CONTINUE..READING>>>

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) had reported that the Minister of Arts and Culture, Hannatu Musawa, is currently a serving corps member in the NYSC scheme.

In a statement, NYSC’s Director of Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa, said this is the second time Hannatu Musawa would be mobilized for the national youth service, after she absconded in the first instance; adding that the minister is eight months old in her current second instance of national service.

He explained that Musawa was originally mobilized in 2001 and posted to Ebonyi State, where she had her orientation programme, but later relocated to Kaduna State to continue the service. He said it was when she got to Kaduna that she absconded and did not complete the service.

“We fault the DSS and the Senate for their obvious lack of diligence. It was, indeed, a national embarrassment when the Senate contradicted itself and confirmed Musawa as a ministerial nominee after it rejected her nomination in 2020 as commissioner on the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) for failing to show evidence of participation or exemption from the mandatory NYSC scheme.

“Though that happened in the 9th assembly, we expected that as an institution, there should be some level of uniformity in decisions based on set rules.”

Senator Barinada Mpigi, who was vice-chairman of the committee that rejected Musawa in 2020 should have, along with other senators who made it to the current 10th Senate, reminded their colleagues of the reasons why the same Senate stood down her confirmation three years ago. Instead, Musawa was asked to take a bow and go.

The year-long national service of the NYSC is compulsory for Nigerians who graduate from universities or equivalent institutions at less than 30 years of age.

Participation in it is a statutory requirement for government and private sector jobs in Nigeria.

Indeed, the enabling law of the NYSC prescribes punishment for anyone who fails to participate in the scheme, or absconds while in service, or forges the scheme’s discharge certificate.

Section 13 of the NYSC law prescribes 12 months imprisonment and/or N2,000 fine for eligible Nigerians who skip the service.

Speaking further for the NYSC, Megwa affirmed that Hannatu Musawa is occupying the ministerial position in breach of the NYSC Act.

“It is against the NYSC Act for any corps member to pick up any government appointment until the one-year service was over,” he said.

Femi Falana (SAN) also argued that it was a violation of the law for anyone who is still serving in the NYSC to accept a ministerial appointment.

In the leading judgment in Modibbo v. Usman, Eko JSC, the Supreme Court found it absurd for a serving corps member to combine national service with the full-time activities of a member of the House of Representatives.

“The lower court failed to be guided by the overall public policy in the National Youth Service Act,” the Supreme Court ruled, further affirming the fact that the scheme cannot be combined with any other job.

It is important to state here that how this issue is handled will impact on how the NYSC is viewed going forward.

It is important not to give the impression that the law is applied to individuals differently. There have been reported cases where citizens who abscond from their places of primary assignment were punished, sometimes with an extension of their service year or their certificates withheld.

Also, eligible citizens are not allowed to secure employment until they have completed the service year.

Therefore, it is important that action is taken on this to preserve the integrity of the scheme. And the moral burden lies with the minister. She must take an action now that will help to maintain the integrity of the NYSC.

We, therefore, advise Musawa to honourably take a leave of absence and complete the remaining period of her national youth service. She could, on collection of her NYSC discharge certificate, return to continue her ministerial duties.

Also, owing to the moral burden involved, Daily Trust requests Musawa to apologise to Nigerians for accepting ministerial appointment as a serving corps member.…CONTINUE..READING>>>

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