The management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has confirmed that Hannatu Musawa, the minister of art, culture and creative economy, is a serving corps member.
This follows a claim by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a civil society organisation, that Musawa is undertaking the one-year mandatory youth service scheme while she is still a member of President Bola Tinubu’s cabinet.
Eddy Megwa, director of press and public relations at the NYSC headquarters, confirmed to TheCable on Thursday, that the minister is a corps member.
“Yes she is a serving corp member,” Megwa wrote in a message to TheCable when he was contacted for enquiries.
On Monday, President Tinubu swore in 45 ministers, including Musawa as members of the federal executive council (FEC).
But in a statement on Wednesday, HURIWA claimed that the culture minister is a member of NYSC, whose place of primary assignment is a law firm in Abuja.
When contacted by TheCable, the minister did not answer calls put through her mobile phone, nor did she reply to messages sent to get her response.
The rights group asked the management of the NYSC to compel Musawa to focus on her national youth service or the ministerial appointment.
“HURIWA wondered why the correct status of Musawa wasn’t made known to the members of the public before the senate sensationally failed to screen her as it should,” the statement reads.
“HURIWA wonders about the kind of scrutiny being conducted by the Department of State Services so much so that it wasn’t disclosed that the minister is actually a youth corper.
The rights group alleged that years back, Musawa abandoned her NYSC in Ebonyi state but later showed interest in completing it.
The organisation added that the minister was mobilised this year and got posted to a law firm in Abuja before President Tinubu picked her as a nominee.
“She was confirmed by the senate without proper screening and sworn in by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as minister of arts, “HURIWA further alleged.
In September 2020, former President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Musawa as a national commissioner representing the north-west geopolitical zone on the national pension commission board.
But the senate in October of the same year rejected her nomination over a report from the committee on establishment and public service matters that Musawa failed to provide her NYSC certificate or exemption letter.
An NYSC certificate or exemption letter is a mandatory requirement for those seeking public offices on the basis of election or appointment.
When the culture minister appeared before the senate during the ministerial screening, the lawmakers did not ask her any questions regarding her NYSC certificate.
WHAT THE NYSC ACT SAYS
However, according to the NYSC act, those who are 30 years and above are exempted from taking part in the mandatory one-year scheme.
Others who are excluded are those who have served in the armed forces of the federation or the Nigeria police force for a period of more than nine months, or a staff member of the Nigerian security organisation, the state security service, the national intelligence agency, the defence intelligence service or anyone who has been conferred with any national honour.