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Does Service as a member of the House of Assembly equal NYSC Service?

CLAIM: The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, claimed that his service as an elected member of  the old Oyo State House of Assembly, in the defunct Second Republic, was equivalent to the compulsory one year NYSC.

CONCLUSION: That turns out to be FALSE!

Verification of Claim

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is a Scheme set up by the government for Nigerians who graduated in universities and polytechnics at home or abroad to serve their fatherland for one year in states, other than their states of origin. First, let us examine relevant sections of the NYSC Act.

Section 13 of the NYSC Act states as follows:

(1) Any person—

(a) who fails to report for service in the service corps in the manner directed by the Directorate or as the case may be, prescribed pursuant to the provisions of this Act; or

(b) who refuses to make himself available for service in the service corps continuously for the period specified in subsection (2) of this section, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of twelve months or to both such fine and imprisonment.

(3) Any person who fails to comply with or who contravenes or causes or aids or abets another to contravene any provision of this Act (not being a provision relating to the calling up of members of the service corps) is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine of N5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of three years or to both such fine and imprisonment.

A Lagos based Lawyer, Muniru Abeedeen, in his reaction says that the interpretation of Mr. Shittu is an insult to legal practice.

How can he say serving as a member of the state assembly is equivalent to NYSC. That’s an insult to legal practice“, he said. “He should rather surrender himself and accept defeat. The law is clear even to a lay man.

Another Lawyer, Kayode Ashiru also condemned the defense of Mr. Shittu.

There is nothing contrasting in the law. The NYSC decree is well spelt out that serving is compulsory in as much as you graduate before 30. He was serving his constituency and pocket as an assembly member not Nigeria. So, it is not equivalent.

NYSC Speaks:

When contacted, the spokeperson of the NYSC,  Adenike Adeyemi said a political office has nothing to do with compulsory service.

She explained that one can only skip the scheme  when one graduates after the age of 30 .

Notwithstanding the provisions of Sub-section 1 of this section, with effect from 1st of August, 1985, a person shall not be called upon to serve in the service corps if at the date of his graduation or obtaining his diploma or other professional qualifications (a) he is over the age of thirty or (b) he has served in the armed forces of the federation or the Nigerian Police Force for a period of more than nine months,”

…or he is a member of staff of the Nigerian Security Organisation, State Security Service, National Intelligence Agency, Defence Intelligence Agency or has been conferred with any national honour.

Serving in the National (or state) Assembly is not one of them but then if you have been conferred with any national honour, in addition to other things in the Act, then it (NYSC) will let you know if you are exempted from the national service.

You have read the Act and you can see the circumstances where someone is exempted, you analyse it if he [Shittu] was exempted duly or there is a reason why he should have served. But the Act is very straightforward on the grounds for not coming up to serve.

If you are a graduate locally trained or foreign trained, as long as you graduate before the age of 30, you are expected to serve. Whether foreign or locally trained, the law is the same. Our youths should be rightly guided that if you were able to complete your studies and as of the date of graduation, you are under 30, you are eligible to serve.

Conclusion

Considering the information above, the claim by Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu that serving as a member of of a House of Assembly is equivalent to completing the NYSC is FALSE!

Adejumo Kabir is a student journalist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He is a great researcher who loves community journalism and supports all aspects of public enlightenment.He has experience writing well-researched papers for online publications.

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