Nigeria’s Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, has responded to the controversy surrounding her appointment while serving as a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The NYSC is a mandatory one-year national service program for Nigerian graduates under 30, aimed at fostering national unity and promoting understanding among the diverse ethnic and cultural groups in Nigeria.
The NYSC Act mandates corps members complete their one-year service before accepting any government appointment. Legal Attorney Blog reports that the NYSC discharge or exemption certificate is also essential for full-term employment in the private sector.
Accusing Musawa of breaching its act, NYSC spokesperson Eddy Megwa pointed out that it constituted a breach of the NYSC Act for a corps member to assume a government role before concluding their one-year service.
In a statement addressing the issue, Musawa maintained her innocence, saying, “I would like to state clearly that, contrary to wrong insinuations and false assumptions in a section of the mainstream media and social media, there is no breach of any law or constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended regarding my current position as a Minister and my status as a serving Corps member.”
She reiterated: “No part of our existing laws and NYSC Act says a corps member must finish service before he/she can be appointed into political office.”
Additionally, she disputed the location of her NYSC posting, stating that she was assigned to Akwa Ibom rather than Ebonyi, as the NYSC spokesperson had claimed.
Minister of Arts Hannatu Musawa addresses the controversy surrounding her appointment.
Some legal experts have now weighed in on the matter. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Adegoke Rasheed, argued that Musawa’s appointment could be regarded as a form of national service and that she could serve in the capacity and receive a corps member’s salary without facing prosecution.
Similarly, prominent legal luminary Rotimi Jacobs, also a SAN, asserted that her ministerial appointment should be considered part of her national assignment.
He added that the Minister must also participate in other corps member activities and receive allowances as prescribed in the NYSC Act.
While the situation remains fluid and subject to legal interpretation, a seasoned broadcaster known for his forthright opinions, Rufai Oseni, took to social media to express his views.
He said, “Nigeria must have a Minister of NYSC affairs! If the president wants an NYSC member as Minister, no problem. But collecting alawe (allowances) and a ministerial salary? That’s a double strike—Nigeria is a theatre of the absurd.”
In her capacity as Minister, Musawa will oversee experienced directors who have served in the Federal Civil Service for over three decades, a dynamic that raises concerns of insubordination within the ministry.
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