Still on Shittu’s NYSC Saga and National Assignment
By Olanrewaju Oyedeji
In recent times there has been news reports on the non-participation of Minister of Communication, Barrister Shittu Adebayo in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
Notably enough, there has been various opinions on the legality of the action, even as he has vehemently denied any wrong doing.
While I am not in a position to absolve him completely of any blame as I’m not a judge of a competent court, there are some perspectives one should take good look at.
Recently, The Premium Times reminded President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to act on the Shittu’s NYSC Saga.
Meanwhile, to prove his innocence, Shittu has gone to Court over his non-mobilization by the board of NYSC.
Taking a serious look at the issues surrounding this argument , I can deduce two things, legality and morality.
The first argument is that Barrister Shittu is alleged to have contravened the law by not serving.
The second argument is the morality of appointing a Minister who didn’t serve the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and therefore has no certificate of discharge.
Barrister Shittu was a member of the old Oyo State House of Assembly at the age of 26, after completing his law school examination at the age of 25.
It is necessary to ask the following questions: Did Barrister Shittu ever claim to have served as a youth service corps member? Did he forge any NYSC certificate or any other document of discharge?
Does he lack competence as a lawmaker, a lawyer and even as a current minister? Was he ever prosecuted and convicted for any offence whether civil or criminal in nature? By the way , was Barrister every mobilized for NYSC and he refused to obey the mobilization order? Has he taken his argument which is strongly believes in to court?
In as much as some persons argue that if he was not mobilized for service, he should have made efforts towards mobilization, my thoughts on this issue is that the Minister of Communication as a lawyer believes that being a member of the House of Assembly at such young age of 26 which did not avail him the opportunity to serve is equivalent to serving, the law is subject to interpretations.
Barrister Shittu apart from been a former member of the House of Assembly in Oyo state has also been a onetime Oyo State Commissioner for Information Culture in 1983, he also served in Oyo state as Commissioner for Justice and Attorney General during Rasheed Ladoja’s administration.
Barrister Shittu also has attended several conferences and represented Oyo state and Nigeria at different events and on different occasions. Shittu Adebayo has also won different awards in recognitions of his efforts and contributions to the nation.
While NYSC was reported to have claimed that serving in the House of Assembly does not equate to National Youth Service Corps but the question why did the scheme being silent on his case in the last thirty years?
This puts into perspective our definition of sacrifice as a nation.
When we exclude politics as a sacrifice to the nation, we are giving room for justification of commercializing politics. The question we should ask is if politics is a big sacrifice or only being in uniform is seen as sacrifice. In most situation, we call politicians ‘servants of the nation’ because we see them as those rendering huge service to the country. One should ask if politics is a service merely by its name or our laws recognize it as a true service .
The argument of late is that a Minister should have a NYSC certificate but if the reported court judgements in favor of Shittu were anything to go by, should the supremacy of the law courts not remain sacrosanct?
The case of Adeosun where she resigned has been used constantly as a bait for Shittu’s case but what we fail to understand is that Adeosun did not resign over NYSC Saga. She resigned because of the shame of reported forgery, which is a criminal offence. she was a victim of circumstances.
In Shittu’s case he didn’t obtain a NYSC discharge certificate. Therefore, the case should open to argument in a competent court of law.
If the Minister of Communication has decided to pursue his case in court,he should be allowed to pursue it to logical conclusion.
The court of law is in a better position to adjucate on this contentious scenario.
Whether we like it or not the competence of Barrister Shittu as a lawyer cannot be over-emphasized.
However he cannot be a judge in his own case which is why he decided to approach a court of law for interpretation to determine this case.
The court should be allowed to determine this case. Trying to turn public sympathy against him as well as putting him through media trial doesn’t follow the ethics of the reason why the case was brought open.
This issue is peculiar and brings to the fore several issues regarding the National Youth Service Corps scheme and brings forth the question, is Political appointment is a national sacrifice that should be considered in lieu of NYSC certificatee.
We need to sit and refine our laws to suit the present day realities even in tandem with laws of the olden days.
In conclusion, While this is not to predict the court judgement on Shittu as innocent, the furore that greeted his case should be left to court to interpret.
Olanrewaju Oyedeji is an Intern with PRNigeria, Abuja.