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The Minister and The Corps Member

It is not necessary to climb a sycamore tree in the instant case to find out the truth because it is now an open secret that the newly appointed Minister of Art, Culture & Creative Economy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Hannatu Musawa, is a serving National Youth Service Corps member (NYSC). The service is a program for Nigerian graduates under 30 with the opportunity for grassroots community capacity development. The honorable minister appears to have admitted the same.

According to several reports, Musawa is currently serving at Abuja and has spent over 8 months already in the service. Many Nigerians have exhibited displeasure and indirectly canvassed for the minister’s removal on the ground that the Musawa was not validly appointed, considering that she is a corps member.
The question begging for an answer is whether a corps member currently serving in the NYSC can be validly appointed as a minister.

Similarly, is an NYSC certificate or exemption letter a requirement for becoming a Minister in Nigeria?
The provisions of the 1999 Constitution will further reveal to everyone, including the doubting Thomas, what the position of the law is. For the avoidance of doubt, let me reproduce the constitutional provisions ipsissima verba, to wit:

Section 147(1) of the Constitution states,  “No person shall be appointed as a Minister of the  Government of the Federation unless he is qualified for election as a Member of the House of Representatives.”

On qualification for membership of the House of Representatives, section 65 says:

(1) a person shall be qualified for election as a member of…(b) the House of Representatives if he/she is a citizen of Nigeria and has attained the age of 30 years;….
(2) (a) they have been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent; and
(b) they are a member of a political party and are sponsored by that party.

The above clear provisions of the law need no interpretation. It is crystal clear that nothing is said about the NYSC certificate or being a corps member. It is trite and needs no citing of authority that words used in a statute should be given their ordinary meanings where the same are clear and unambiguous. This is a notorious rule of interpretation.

No law requires that a minister produce an NYSC certificate, and neither is there any provision forbidding a corps member from being appointed a Minister.

What matters most to Nigerians is the minister’s ability to be productive and place the nation’s arts and culture on the world stage. Thus, we should allow the Honorable Minister of Arts, Culture & Creative Economy a chance to breathe.

Human Rights Foundation, Nigeria (HRF) is a registered charity (CAC/IT/No 21140) that advocates for the rights of  individuals accused of an offense and the provision of legal representation regardless of class, status, gender and religion.  Read more…..

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