The National Youth Service Corps has dismissed the claim by the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, that holding political office compensated for his refusal to participate in the compulsory national service.
The spokesperson of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), Adenike Adeyemi, said the minister’s claim that holding an elective office suffices for the obligatory national service is incorrect.
Speaking to Tribune newspaper, the NYSC spokesperson said the provisions of the Act are clear, and that individuals such as Mr Shittu who became a lawmaker at the age of 26 are not exempted.
Adeyemi said: “Serving in the National (or state) Assembly is not one of them (conditions for exemption from 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,” the NYSC spokesperson said.
Mrs Adeyemi insisted that the NYSC law gives no preferential treatment to Nigerians other than those exempted by Section 2 of the Act, emphasising that
“The NYSC was set up to mobilise all eligible Nigerian youths. The Act does not talk about VIPs or children of VIPs. Anyone who is a Nigerian youth, who has a first degree and under the age of 30 must serve, the issue of VIPs or their children does not apply.
“However, if there is any reason why a corps member needs a concession, the corps member applies and concession is given, for example, for marital reasons and on health grounds. Everyone is treated the same and where concessions are to be given, it is treated. So, VIPs or children of VIPs do not come into the Act and we do not look at that,” she said
Since it came to lime light that communications minister skipped NYSC, he has been claiming that his election into the Oyo State House of Assembly immediately after graduation in 1979 replaced the mandatory service.
Some lawyers however said Mr Shittu’s justification for skipping the scheme is flawed and ludicrous.