In order to avoid embarrassing Nigerians, a civil society organisation (CSO), Competent Governance for Accountability and Trust, has urged the federal government to modify or dismantle the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) if it has outlived its purpose.
The group’s request was made in light of the issue surrounding the certificate that the NYSC delivered to Dr. Peter Mbah, the incoming governor of Enugu State, but has now disowned.
The CSO stated that the one-year mandatory national service was a process, and that if necessary reforms, such as digital documentation and more open authentication processes, are implemented by the NYSC, the discharge certificate of anyone who successfully completed the entire process should never be a subject of controversy.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by the group’s national coordinator, Ambassador Omoba Michael and the deputy coordinator, Ambassador Godwin Erheriene said, “The controversy over Mbah’s discharge certificate is just one of the many symptoms of the endemic rot in not only the NYSC, but also our public institutions in general; and it could still happen to anyone unless the decay in our system is arrested through a shakeup and total reform and retooling of the NYSC.
The NYSC had issued letters stating that it did not issue Mbah’s discharge certificate, while Mbah has dragged the agency before a Federal High Court demanding N20 billion from the agency and its director of corps certification, Mr. Ibrahim Muhammad, as general and exemplary damages for alleged “conspiracy, deceit and misrepresentation of facts.
“The fact is that an NYSC discharge certificate is not a privilege conferred by the NYSC; it is the statutory right of anyone, who diligently undergoes the one-year mandatory service.
“Interestingly, the NYSC has not denied that it mobilised DMbah for national service vide call-up number 01134613 and reference number NYSC/FRN/2001/800351; it has not denied that it posted Mbah to Lagos State; it has not denied that it posted Mbah to Udeh & Associates for his primary assignment or that the law firm accepted him vide a letter to the state director of the NYSC in Lagos dated 11th March, 2002; it has not denied that it gave Mbah a written permission dated 1st October, 2002 and with reference number NYSC/DHQ/CM/M/27 to defer the remaining part of his service year and return to the Nigerian Law School for his Bar Final.
“Importantly, the NYSC has not denied its letter of 7th May, 2003 with reference number NYSC/DHQ/CM/27/20 directing its state director in Lagos to ‘reinstate the corps member (Peter Mbah) to continue his service year from where he stopped, with effect from May 2003’.
“Udeh & Associates has not equally denied that it issued the various clearance letters that enabled Mbah to receive his monthly allowance during his service year and the final clearance letter certifying that he completed the one year of NYSC in their office from 7th January, 2002 to 6th January, 2003.
“It therefore baffles us how Mbah, having passed through these processes, would end up fabricating a discharge certificate for himself.
“But if the NYSC claims that the discharge certificate was not issued by it, where then is Mbah’s authentic certificate, since it is his entitlement, having fulfilled all the conditions to be issued with one?”
Erheriene said whereas NYSC certificates are printed by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company PLC (NSPMC), with security features and serial numbers, the NYSC has not come up with another certificate with the same serial number A808297 as Mbah’s or disclaimed the existence of the serial number entirely since the beginning of the controversy.
“These are the material facts that the NYSC should have conveyed to the public or in response to Mbah’s petition to it over the matter dated 6th February, 2023.
“Unfortunately, from the available media reports, the agency is yet to tell Nigerian why it felt the certificate did not emanate from it or deemed it fit to formally reply to Mbah’s petition four months after.
“The Mbah vs. NYSC certificate saga that has now ended up in a N20 Billion lawsuit is an embarrassment and a testimony to the negligence, irresponsibility, rot and corruption that have eaten deep into the NYSC and our public sector in general.
“The NYSC is overdue for reform and retooling. The federal government should, therefore, urgently reform the agency or disband it altogether if it has outlived its usefulness,” the group stated.
It however expressed the hope that evidence in court by the NSPMC, the Police, and the Department of State Services (DSS) would help to resolve the current controversy over Mbah’s certificate and called for accelerated hearing of the matter.