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No, Nigerian president Tinubu hasn’t ordered open university graduates be included in the national youth service

IN SHORT: Media reports and Facebook posts claim that president Bola Tinubu has said graduates of Nigeria’s national open university should be allowed to participate in the national youth service scheme and attend law school. But this is inaccurate.

President Bola Tinubu has directed the Federal Ministry of Education to include graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme and give them access to law school, according to media reports

The reports claim this was part of Tinubu’s address read by the deputy executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, Biodun Saliu. He represented the president at the 13th convocation ceremony of the open university in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

This claim was shared in many Facebook posts, including posts made in groups that focus on the open university’s affairs. One has over 56,900 members and another has 12,000 members

Other Facebook posts making the claim can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

NOUN provides open and distance learning university education. Classes are flexible and suitable for working adults and students who wish to complete their degrees at their own pace. 

In Nigeria, graduates 30 years and younger are required to complete one year of national service. 

Graduates of NOUN are excluded from the national service. Many of its graduates would not be eligible because of the age limit. 

The debate about this and whether the institution’s law graduates should be admitted in the Nigerian law school has been ongoing for at least a decade.

There were media reports in 2017 about the senate approving the inclusion of NOUN graduates in NYSC and law school. Then president Muhammadu Buhari reportedly made it effective when he signed an amendment to the National Open University Act in December 2018.

However, young graduates of NOUN are still not included in NYSC and law school. Has Tinubu ordered a change in the status quo?

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The president’s representative didn’t say it 

We reviewed a 10-minute video of Saliu reading the president’s address at the convocation ceremony, posted on YouTube by NOUN. 

Saliu made no mention of the inclusion of NOUN graduates in NYSC or admission into law school. He talked about the government’s commitment to improving access to education by supporting institutions such as NOUN.

Open university debunks claim

The university released a statement debunking the claim and referred to the media reports as “entirely false”. 

The statement, by the university’s director of media and publicity Ibrahim Sheme, said the reports were based on a version of the president’s speech that supposedly circulated on social media.

“We categorically state that these assertions are entirely false and do not reflect the content of the visitor’s speech nor the proceedings of the convocation ceremony,” the statement reads.

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