The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has taken another blow as yet another cabinet member has been found to have skipped the mandatory National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC).
Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications, failed to participate in the NYSC scheme despite graduating from the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) at age 25, PREMIUM TIMES reports.
The damning revelation about Mr Shittu, who is currently angling to become Oyo State governor, comes about a week after Kemi Adeosun was compelled to step down from her post as Nigeria’s finance minister following a PREMIUM TIMES report that she skipped national service and then procured a fake exemption certificate to cover her tracks.
Contacted on the matter, 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 that has been rubbished by lawyers and NYSC insiders.
Mr Shittu, born on March 23, 1953, studied law at Ife, 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.
Rather than enlist in the national service, Mr Shittu went into politics after graduation, and was, in 1979, elected member of the Oyo State House of Assembly.
The minister said he believed that having been elected lawmaker, he needed not participate in the national 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.
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.
Skipping the compulsory national service is an offence under the NYSC law, punishable with up to 12 months imprisonment.