This is not the best of times for communications minister, Adebayo Shittu. Apart from the fact that he would not contest the 2019 governorship election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, he may not return to his duty post in Abuja. President Muhammadu Buhari is being pressured to drop him.
Remember he took a leave of absence in order to be able to contest the election. Few days after, he was found to have skipped the one-year mandatory youth service. The APC, not wanting to take risk, disqualified him from the contest. Though he has appealed the decision.
The disqualification was widely adjudged a turning point in the administrative politics.
Shittu and Alhassan were screened out by the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) at a time the party grappled with defections among its ranks and files to rival parties.
Responding to insinuations that the duo were arbitrarily screened out, the party’s National Chairman and head of its NWC, Adams Oshiomhole, argued that Shittu was disqualified because it was discovered that he avoided the compulsory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme after graduation.
Oshiomhole said the party’s governorship screening committee was not convinced with explanations offered by Shittu that his service as a lawmaker in the Oyo State House of Assembly and minister was equivalent to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
According to him, Nigeria’s laws are clear on the issue.
There is no gainsaying that Shittu and Alhassan didn’t envisage their ordeal. The duo, like several other aspirants, dreamed of clinching their party’s ticket to vie for their states’ governorship seats until the dismal news of their disqualification.
Earlier, an upbeat Shittu, in an interview, reportedly stated that he enjoyed the goodwill and support of large segments of the electorate. The former Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Oyo State allegedly urged the APC to forget about its chances in the state if he is denied the governorship ticket of the party.
While Shittu’s travails erupted in the wake of his NYSC certificate saga.
The party’s disqualification of chieftains like Shittu and Alhassan would have been unthinkable in the past but they were excluded for reasons firmly anchored in APC’s constitution and rules, according to the party’s national chairman.
Shittu’s problem did not just start. He had challenged the outcome of the 2015 primaries between him and Governor Abiola Ajimobi, who was then seeking re-election. In 2016, when his name was forwarded to the Senate as one of the ministerial nominees, it generated criticism and counter criticisms. For long, he and Ajimobi have not stopped trading words. Only last week, he accused Ajimobi of being behind his disqualification.