The meeting, which was held on 5th January at the NYSC Headquarters had the following, in attendance: Brig-Gen. Y. D. Ahmed, D-G, NYSC; Chris Ogar – Ag. Director, Legal; Peter Omuru – Assistant Director, Litigation and; Ernest G. ikoli – Principal Legal Officer, NYSC; Chinedu Obienu, Treasurer, SPIDEL and Vincent Adodo – Interim Sec, SPIDEL FCT.The meeting commenced at about 9:27pm and the under-listed issues were brought to the front burner, with parties concerned, bringing each other abreast with the situation and latest developments.
Hannatu Musawa, Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy Saga:
The Ag. Director Legal briefed the delegation that Ms.Hannatu Musa was initially mobilised to serve in Ebonyi sometimes in 2001. She relocated to Kaduna and she could not complete the programme as she absconded. The NYSC disciplinary committee decided, as punishment for abscondment, that she should be remobilised to FCT in 2003. However, she only appeared for the service in 2023.Upon being remobilised again in Abuja and the issue came up upon her being appointed Minister, she was queried by the NYSC as she cannot undertake both at the same time. Upon receiving the query, she decided to resign her appointment as Minister and complete her service. She handed over to the PS in the Ministry to enable her complete the NYSC programme.
Referencing Section 2(2) of the NYSC Act, the Ag. Director posited that once a person is below the age of 30 at the time of graduating, he has an obligation to serve the nation and this mandatory service must be carried out irrespective of their age when they make themselves available for service. It has been a normal practice for persons to serve after the age of 30. He cited the case of a medical doctor who did his at over 60 years of age.
He stated that the Corps interface with the institution directly who submitted the names of prospective corps members.
But for those who studied outside the country, the NYSC only gets to know the existence of the student when he makes himself available to the Corps for service. This is the case with Mr. Kenny Ogungbe who studied in the US and it was the time he made himself available to the Corps that he was mobilised.
He stated further that the law does not shut out people from serving the nation after they have attained the age of 30 as long as they graduated when they were below the age of 30. It is like a debt that must be paid and the person can observe the programme anytime after clicking the age of 30.
The DG commended the interest SPIDEL has shown in the activities of the NYSC and observed that such interest shown in the activities of public institutions drives public officers to sit up and do the right thing.
He said he has high regard for SPIDEL and this informed his insistence on meeting with SPIDEL upon receipt of the letter for the purpose of making clarifications on the issues related in the letter, rather than merely issuing a reply as they would usually do in most cases.
He also reiterated the point that the Corps permit persons who have graduated before attaining the age of 30 and are entitled to serve to do so even after exceeding the age of 30. According to him, there are about 50 persons currently serving who have exceeded the age of 30. He gave the example of a 64 year old corper currently serving in Lagos. The corper lives in the US and has been living in the US for a very long time. He recently came back to Nigeria and presented himself for service and he is currently serving in Lagos State.Speaking on behalf of the delegation, Mr. Obienu conveyed to the DG the apologies of the Chairman of SPIDEL, Mr. John Aikpoko-Martins who could not attend the meeting because of the short notice. He appreciated the DG for his time and audience. He stated that SPIDEL is not out to witchhunt NYSC but to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in public institutions or offices where an infraction of the law occurs.
He assured the DG that SPIDEL would come out with a decision on the issues.