President Muhammadu Buhari has spoken on the need for Nigerians to take part in the national youth service, NYSC, but continued to maintain silence over the revelation that his minister skipped the mandatory programme and obtained a fake exemption certificate.
A PREMIUM TIMES investigation showed that finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, failed to serve despite graduating before the age of 30. The minister obtained a forged discharge certificate afterwards, when she was apparently not entitled to one.
Over 44 days after the revelation, the Minister has refused to react to the scandal. The federal government has also failed to address the matter.
On Tuesday however, while celebrating Sallah in Daura, his hometown, Mr Buhari said his support for the scheme remains unchanged.
The president, after prayers, received members of the NYSC serving in Daura community- an audience that has become part of his schedule during the Sallah celebrations in the past years.
While reaffirming his support for the scheme established in 1973, Mr Buhari told the corps members that: ‘‘It is better to know all about the country than for people to be state-inclined.
‘‘I always look forward to meeting the NYSC team because I served mostly in the south when I was in the military.”
He said that during his military career that many people did not know much outside their immediate environment.
‘‘For them (NYSC members) to be brought to the desert or near the Sahel region is a very difficult thing but it will make an impact on Nigeria.
‘‘I have personally spoken to Gen. Gowon to thank him for having the initiative to start the NYSC programme. It is very good for Nigeria.’’
The president also welcomed the corps members to the ancient town of Daura and asked them to enjoy their service year.
In his remarks, the Corps Liaison Officer, Jibrin Ishak, thanked the president for prioritising the welfare of the youth to secure their future through his style of leadership and developmental initiatives.
‘‘The voice of the people is the voice of God and by the grace of God, we pray that in 2019 you will continue to be president of Nigeria to do more for us,’’ Mr Ishak said.
Mr Buhari also expressed delight over Nigeria’s steady progress toward food sufficiency.
The president made his feelings known when he fielded questions from reporters at his private residence in Daura.
He thanked Almighty God for a bumper harvest being recorded across the country.
“I hope the rainy season will be as good as the previous ones so that there would be plenty of food so that we may even completely stop importation of food items,’’ he added.
The president wished all Nigerians a happy and successful celebration and expressed delight that the country was spending less on food importation.
According to him, the development is a major boost to the agricultural policies of his administration.
On the mammoth crowd chanting `Sai Baba’ on his way back home after performing the Eid-el Kabir prayer at Daura Eid ground, the president said he did not expect anything less from his ‘immediate constituency’.
‘‘I am very happy about it (the warm reception) and I do not expect anything less from my immediate base,’’ he said.