THE Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, says he will be willing to embark on the one-year mandatory national service, but that would be after he has become the governor of Oyo State.
It was recently revealed that Shittu did not take part in the National Youth Service scheme after he graduated from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) at the age of 22.
The National Youth Service Act stipulates that any Nigerian who graduated from the University before the age of 30, shall embark on a one-year mandatory national service, without which such a person would not be employed by any government or private organisation.
But Shittu claims that since he won election into the Oyo State House of Assembly immediately after graduating from law school, the years he served as a state legislator makes up for the one year he would have spent in the NYSC.
Following the revelation, the All Progressives Congress (APC) disqualified Shittu from contesting the Oyo State governorship seat on its platform, with the party’s National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, saying that the party was not convinced by Shittu’s explanation.
During an interview in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Saturday, the minister was asked whether he was willing to undergo his one-year mandatory national service and he said, “Of course I will go; it will be a pleasant thing to go after I have been governor by the grace of God. Yes, why not? I will serve in any place if it becomes necessary for me to go.”
Shittu, added that it would be a matter for the courts to decide “whether serving in the house of assembly and being a minister is not superior and does not replace service in the NYSC.”
He maintained that his case was different from that of the former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who had to resign after she was exposed as parading a fake NYSC exemption certificate, adding, however, that Adeosun was a victim of circumstance.
The APC had disqualified two serving ministers during its governorship screening process, Shittu and the Minister for Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan.
But while the latter had resigned her ministerial position and left the APC and joined the UDP, it is unclear what is next for Shittu, who as at the time of this report is still a member of President Buhari’s cabinet.