A US-returnee, Lanre Amu, has recounted how he participated in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme at the age of 54 in 2015.
According to him, he left Nigeria in 1982 at the age of 21 and travelled to the United States, where he stayed for 34 years.
Amu said that he bagged all his university degrees in the US during the period of his sojourn and did not think much about NYSC until his return to Nigeria.
However, he disclosed that he choose to be enrolled in the scheme after it emerged that the NYSC Act did not exempt him from the mandatory one-year service since he graduated below 30 years of age in the US.
Mr Amu’s experience came into prominence after the recent ordeals of former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who lost her job for not participating in NYSC, and Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu, who was screened out of the race for the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial ticket in Oyo State for missing the scheme.
Speaking with The Guardian, Amu said, “I left Nigeria at age of 21 in 1982. I graduated in the United States (US) at age of 24. You have to undertake the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme on Nigerian soil. I stayed, schooled and worked in the US for 34 years, so the opportunity or the awareness was not there. I returned to Nigeria at the age of 54 years in 2015. All of my university studies were in the US.
Amu (second left) with other NYSC members
“I actually did not know I was not exempted until I approached NYSC, trying to get an exemption letter, and the official in charge explained to me that I was not exempted and that I must serve, because it is mandatory, so long I was below 30 when I got my undergraduate degree. He explained how unfair it would be for those Nigerians similarly placed who did not leave the country and had to serve. I got the message clearly and I served.”
Explaining why participated in the scheme despite his age, Amu said, “I did not want to do it. I needed to enter into the professions and my NYSC certificate or exemption certificate was requested in some places I went to. So, I went to NYSC office in Maitama, Abuja. They asked me to go and bring my credentials. I finally did. When they examined my credentials, they computed the age at which I got my first degree and said I must serve, that there is no exemption certificate for me, because when I got my first degree, I was less than 30 years old. So, I enrolled and did the NYSC and passed out in December last year.”