A former minister of communication and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adebayo Shittu, says he has served as lawmaker, Commissioner and Minister without possessing National Youth Service Corps certificate.
Shittu, who served as a minister from 2015 to 2019 under the then administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, said there is no law in the country preventing individuals from holding political office as a result of absence of NYSC certificate.
The Oyo State-born politician stated this in an interview with Trust Television following the controversies trailing the appointment of a serving corps member, Hannatu Musawa, as Minister of Culture and Creative Economy by President Bola Tinubu.
He said : “The 1999 Constitution did not make it mandatory that for anybody to hold public office, he/she must have NYSC discharge certificate.
” Was she the one who appointed herself? The president appointed her and the president has not broken any law because the constitution and several court judgments have said that to become a politician or a public office holder, having NYSC discharge certificate is not a requirement.
“In 1979, I contested election into the Oyo State House of Assembly; I was coming directly from law school when I contested.
” I didn’t serve. I went to do higher service in the Oyo State House of Assembly and my opponent, who I defeated from NPN, took me to court but the court threw out his case. He said the court should invalidate my victory because I didn’t do national service.
“Even though I was just coming out of Law school; and the court asked, where in the 1979 Constitution is there a provision that to contest election into the House of Assembly or any other political posts, you must have NYSC discharge certificate?
” By the time I finished my service in the House of Assembly, I was already 30 and I also automatically got appointed as honourable commissioner for Home Affairs, information and culture. That was in 1983, I was 30 by then.
Asked if he is aware whether that clause in the constitution has been changed? Shittu said : “That aspect of NYSC has not changed in the constitution, subsequent constitutions retained the provision as it is, it did not say for anybody to go and do service or go and enter political office or something, he must first do NYSC, there is no such law.”
Speaking further, Shittu said during his screening for ministerial position, NYSC certificate was not requested.
” They could not have asked because it is not a part of the requirements in the constitution, so it will be out of place for anybody to start asking me if have served. Must I serve before I enter the House of Assembly or National Assembly or become a minister?”
On why he was stopped from the 2019 APC governorship primary over the issue of NYSC certificate, the former minister said :” Let me tell you what happened then. It was fraud! The person who brought my case to the party secretariat that I didn’t serve was the late (Abiola) Ajimobi. He himself never served and he was given a ticket for Senate while I was disqualified after I had paid N20m for the form.
“I went to court but, somehow, my lawyer then also frustrated me by withdrawing the case without my authority, so I just decided that all is well.”
On his greatest regret in Buhari’s government, the outspoken Shittu said the inability of the administration to fix refineries troubled him.
” The only regret I have is that our government, that is the Buhari government, in 2015 when we were taking over, promised to revive the refineries and we said we’re going to do that in four years. Unfortunately, in eight years we couldn’t do that and that is one regret I have.
“I feel guilty of course, because we ought to have been able to do it and up to this moment, I cannot provide an answer for why we could not,” he said.
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