Why Hannatu Musawa did not get NYSC exemption

Following the appointment of Hannatu Musawa as Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy by Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, there have been controversies surrounding the validity of her nomination due to her status as a serving corp member – National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

With the NYSC confirmation that she is still serving, comments flooding the internet was asking why she didn’t collect an exemption letter, seeing that she is well over the age limit.

Speculations over her status as a corps member had begun after she was screened by the Senate and was confirmed by the NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Eddy Megwa.

Provision of the law

People who are to serve

Section 2 of the NYSC decree states that every Nigerian shall be called to serve:

1) if they have graduated from any university in Nigeria,

2) If they have graduated from any university outside of Nigeria,

3) if they have obtained the Higher National Diploma, or such other professional qualification as may be prescribed.

People exempted from national service

According to the NYSC provision “a person shall not be called upon to serve in the service corps if,

  1. At the date of his graduation or obtaining his diploma or other professional qualification, s/he is over the age of thirty,
  2. He or she has served in the armed forces of the Federation or the Nigeria Police Force for a period of more than nine months,
  3. S/he is member of staff of any of the following, that is, a) The Nigerian Security Organisation, b) The State Security Service, c) The National Intelligence Agency, d) The Defence Intelligence Service
  4. or he has been conferred with any National Honour.

In lieu of this, Section 17 of the Act states that the following people would be issued with a certificate of exemption.



    According to the NYSC spokesperson, Hannatu was mobilised in 2001 and deployed to serve in Ebonyi but did not complete her service year after she was re-deployed to Kaduna state.

    Section 5, subsection 9 of the NYSC Bye-Laws states that any member who is absent for a continuous period of 3 months within the service year shall be considered to have absconded and shall be declared a wanted person, making them repeat the service year.

    The rule of exemption cannot be applied to Musawa as she was less than 30 years of age when she was mobilised initially for the scheme, which she is currently repeating.

    This is because eligibility or exemption for the NYSC scheme is based on the age a person is when s/he or he graduated. A person who graduated at 23 and did not serve, If 20 years later at 43 such a person is desirous of the certificate, the person will have to serve as s/he will not be eligible for exemption.

    Fatimah Quadri is a Journalist and a Fact-checker at The ICIR. She has written news articles, fact-checks, explainers, and media literacy in an effort to combat information disinformation.
    She can be reached at sunmibola_q on X or [email protected]

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