From Dennis Mernyi, Abuja
Tension, fears and anxiety pervades the Yakubu Gowon House, National Headquarters of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) and other state formations as the lid on the multi billion Naira, money spinning scam dubbed online registration of prospective corps members is finally blown open.
The Corps online registration scam, in the similar trend with the famous and disastrous immigration employment scandal is a product of some smart staff within the NYSC and their Information Technology collaborators.
NYSC, it was gathered had signed a contract deal with Sidmach, a private ICT firm in 2014 to develop portal, generate data for an online registration of intending corps members to apply.
Prospective corps members are only granted access into the portal when the paid and obtain a bank draft to generate registration personal identification number to commence registration at the high cost N4,000 per each candidate.
Since the scheme, started, millions of corps members have passed through it committing a cumulative of billions of naira.
Reliable sources within the ministry of Youths and Sports and the NYSC have disclosed that the new Director General, Brig. Gen. Suleman Kazaure, who is determined to clean up the corruption ridden agency led to the constitution recently of a committee to unravel all those connected to the disappearnce of over 1.5 billion naira money collected from Nigerian graduates for online registration for intending corps members.
DG NYSC, Brig. Gen. Suleman Kazaure Constituted Investigative Committee on the Scam.
Our investigation further revealed that the recent committee which has submitted its interim report uncovered brazen breaches of all extant rules governing the conduct of government business.
For instance, it was discovered by the committee that the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the NYSC and Sidmach was designed just like that of Abba Moro immigration saga to favour Sidmach and allow for the laundering of the proceeds to the major beneficiaries. Namely, The former DG, the main brain of the scam who was a former Director mobilization, the chairman and Board members.
The the committee discovered that the Memorandum of Understanding entered with a private company on behalf of the NYSC had ceded about 60 of the proceeds to the company leaving the remaining 40 per cent to government agency.
More worrisome and baffling to the committee is that even the 40% that was supposed to go to the scheme was never remitted into the account of the NYSC or Federal Government.
The committee also established that the Director Finance of the NYSC and indeed the Finance Department all claimed ignorance of how much has been realized from the scam since its inception in 2014 till date or where the money is kept as there is nowhere it is reflected in the budget of the agency in 2014 and 2015 budget estimates.
The immediate past Director-General, Brig. Gen Johnson Olawunmi who all accusation fingers are been appointed according to investigations would soon fall into the net of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and ICPC for investigation.
Minister for Youth and Sports Barr. Solomon Dalong uncomfortable with ongoing at the NYSC
Our investigation revealed that following several petitions to the EFCC and ICPC several officials of the scheme were invited by the anti-graft agency to explain their role in the sleaze called NYSC online registration.
It was gathered that but because those fingered, especially the then Director-General and the immediate past Director, Corps mobilization were the arrow heads of the disguised looting, our sources revealed they made sure noting came out of the investigation.
But with the coming of General Kazaure who is bent on getting to the root of the matter and blocking the monumental stealing that took place, a new independent committee was set up at the instance of the Minister for Youth and Sports. The committee which was initially headed by a very Senior Deputy Director in the Director-General’s Office but was later headed by a departmental Director because the principal suspected culprits in the whole scam are the former boss and former Director Corps mobilization who is presently heading a very sensitive department at the headquarters.
Our investigation further revealed that the brain behind the scam exploited the free reign of corruption incorporated, which is another name for the immediate past Federal Government. Since it was a bazaar and every one took advantage of it, to feather their nest.
It was gathered that that the robbing of the hapless graduates was further made possible by the active connivance of the NYSC National Governing Board.
Our sources also revealed that the committee was shocked that Sidmach claimed to have spent the whole money on infrastructure which was never reflected in the capital sub head of the NYSC budget. In other words, NYSC under General Olawunmi was appropriating and spending money without recourse to the National Assembly which is the only body constitutionally empowered to approve appropriation in line with approved constitutional provisions.
Past NYSC bosses like General Okore-Affia, had turned down the proposal because it is illegal to ask people to pay for mobilization to serve under whatever guise since the NYSC programme is compulsory and mandatory.
Another aspect the committee is on the trail is to find out who drafted the MoU, where was the legal department of the NYSC when such serious blunder was committed and why would government legal officials easily capitulate to endorse on MoU which to all intent and purposes is designed to dupe innocent Nigerian graduates and their parents.
However, when contacted to state his own side of the story, the former NYSC boss, Johnson Olawunmi admitted knowledge of the existence of the firm as a contractor with NYSC but insisted that the Corps authorities should be contacted for clarification before he would speak.
“As you know, I am no longer the DG of NYSC. Contact the authorities first before I will speak because they have the records and all the documents for the contract.
“Agree, there was a contractual agreement between NYSC and Sidmach firm during my tenure but I am no longer there and only the management can speak on the matter officially”, stated.
But for Mr. Ani, who was the former Director of Mobilisation and the coordinator of the deal, he would rather prefer that the matter was not raised with him since he is no longer heading the department.
When contacted to explain his role in the whole deal, he directed the reporter to direct his efforts to other directions instead of disturbing him since he is longer in that office.
“I really do not understand what you are talking about concerning the scam in NYSC during my period as Director of Mobilisation, since I am no longer there I can’t comment on any activity of the department”, he stated.