Leading civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria that recently exposed the status of Minister of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musawa, as a serving member of the National Youth Service Corps, says it has uncovered a plot by the Presidency to give her a soft landing.
The embattled Minister has been at the centre of a storm since HURIWA exposed her dual roles, raising questions regarding her eligibility and transparency in public office.
HURIWA, in a press release issued on Monday by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said it had uncovered a potentially strategic government plan concerning Musawa’s matter.
“According to reliable sources, there are indications that the Presidency is considering a strategic reshuffle, positioning Mrs. Musawa to head the Ministry of Youth Development. This ministry holds sway over the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), a move that has raised eyebrows and prompted concerns about transparency and accountability in governance,” it stated.
The core of the unfolding saga, as revealed by HURIWA revolves around Minister Hannatu Musawa’s alleged inability to furnish conclusive evidence of her completion of the mandatory National Youth Service programme during her Senate confirmation. HURIWA’s investigation, delving into intricate details of the controversy, has revealed potential contradictions in statements made by various stakeholders.
A prominent concern highlighted by the rights group centres on a possible disparity between Minister Musawa’s assertion of having successfully concluded her service as recently reported by the media and NYSC’s counter-claim that she is currently engaged in active service.
This discrepancy, according to HURIWA, if substantiated, further intensifies the ongoing controversy, because NYSC had officially confirmed that she is serving now and has served for eight months out of 12 months.
However, the ongoing debate transcends mere controversy, as HURIWA delved into the realm of legal intricacies. “The matter of Minister Musawa’s eligibility for public office has not only ignited a national discourse but also raised legal concerns regarding adherence to the Nigerian Constitution and the NYSC Act.
“While acknowledging Minister Musawa’s apparent dedication to both her national service and her ministerial responsibilities, a pivotal question emerges: Do her concurrent roles align with the established legal framework as outlined in the NYSC Act and the Nigerian Constitution? The unprecedented nature of this situation in Nigeria’s history adds complexity to the matter.
“The NYSC Act, designed to foster national unity and involve young citizens in the nation’s progress, explicitly outlines participation requirements. Section 2 mandates that all citizens under 30 years of age who have graduated from tertiary institutions, both within and outside Nigeria, must fulfill a mandatory one-year national youth service. Notably, Section 13 of the Act stipulates penalties for non-compliance.
“Furthermore, the Nigerian Constitution specifies qualifications and disqualifications for public office. Specifically, Section 147(6) states that a person cannot be appointed a Minister of the Federation unless eligible for election as a member of the House of Representatives. This connection between the criteria for ministerial appointments and legislative roles raises pertinent questions.”
Given the legal complexities at play, HURIWA reiterated its call for an exhaustive, impartial investigation into the legality of Minister Musawa’s dual roles. The organization underscored the critical need to uphold the principles of the law, transparency, and accountability to safeguard the integrity of public office and the governance process.
Additionally, HURIWA expressed concerns about potential transparency violations if Minister Musawa had failed to disclose her ongoing NYSC service during her ministerial screening, stressing that transparency and honesty during the screening process are vital tenets of public service, and any discrepancies in the information provided cast doubt on truthfulness and credibility.
Furthermore, the issue of potential dual compensation has also come under HURIWA’s scrutiny. Occupying roles as both a corps member and a minister raises questions about eligibility for dual compensation. HURIWA Therefore, HURIWA called for clarity from relevant authorities, and pundits to cite relevant authorities that align such an arrangement with established remuneration regulations for public officials.
In conclusion, HURIWA commended Minister Musawa’s apparent commitment, as indicated in a statement attributed to her, which she has come out to deny. However, the organization underlined the paramount importance of adhering to the law and the Constitution. “Public office holders must embody compliance with legal mandates, serving as exemplars of transparency, integrity, and accountability”.
HURIWA’s called on the embattled Minister to quit one of the National services, and also, for an immediate, transparent, and independent investigation remains steadfast. “The outcomes of this inquiry are poised to shed light on the legality of dual roles and their potential implications for Nigeria’s democratic principles and governance integrity”.