Certificate Controversy: Reform or Disband NYSC, CSO Charges FG

Abdul Suleiman

A Civil Society Organisation, CSO, Competent Governance for Accountability and Trust, has called on the Federal Government (FG) to put the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in order or disband it if has outlived its usefulness to avoid what the group described as an embarrassment, which it said, the agency was causing Nigerians.

It said the one-year mandatory national service was a process and the discharge certificate of anyone, who successfully passed the entire process, should never be a matter of controversy if necessary reforms, including digital documentation and more transparent authentication processes are put in place.

The group made the call in a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Amb. Omoba Michael and her Deputy Coordinator, Amb. Godwin Erheriene, in Abuja on Sunday in reaction to the ongoing controversy between the NYSC and the Governor-elect of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, over the latter’s discharge certificate.

It is recalled that 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 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 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 Dr. Mbah 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 State Director of the NYSC in Lagos dated 11th March, 2002; it has not denied that it gave Dr. 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 ‘re-instate 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?”

The group observed that 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 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 FG should, therefore, urgently reform the agency or disband it altogether if it has outlived its usefulness”, the Competent Governance for Accountability and Trust 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.

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