The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and her boss, President Muhammadu Buhari have continued to maintain sealed lips on the former’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate forgery scandal in a manner that offends the sensibility of many Nigerians.
It has been nearly one month since the news broke that Adeosun illegitimately skipped the mandatory national youth service and went ahead to procure a fake certificate of exemption for employment opportunities in contravention of the laws of the land. The NYSC Act mandates every Nigerian graduate below the age of 30 to commit one year to serve the country. The law demands that even Nigerian graduates from foreign tertiary institutions commit to the mandatory service as a requisite for employment in the country. The law also unambiguously stipulates conditions for exemption and exclusion from the mandatory service. Available facts in the public domain acknowledge that Kemi Adeosun graduated from the Polytechnic of East London, now University of East London in 1989 at the age of 22 and started work almost immediately in the United Kingdom. There are essentially two fundamental facts that place a burden of culpability on the minister. She presented an exemption certificate to secure jobs in Nigeria up to a ministerial appointment. She graduated at age 22 and could not have merited an exemption certificate since she did not fall within that category. Therefore, and logically so, any exemption certificate in her custody was either awarded illegitimately by NYSC or was forged by Mrs. Kemi Adeosun. Whatever the case, this is a huge mess for her, the government and the entire country.
However, since the news broke, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has neither refuted the allegation nor responded to it. What may have been lost on the minister is that her silence speaks even more than any verbal or written rebuttal she could have offered. Her silence communicates either of two things: that she is guilty and simply just wants the news to fritter away, or she believes Nigerians from whose taxes she is paid do not deserve an explanation. In any instance, the minister has flouted the basic moral principles of public service, even in a society like Nigeria. She has reiterated the notion that Nigerians are often taken for a ride by their leaders with no fear of consequence.
It is more saddening that the National Youth Service Corps that should have issued clarification on the certificate scandal also chose to shun various public enquires on the matter, thereby inadvertently shielding the embattled minister. The body moved to even confuse the public by providing a nebulous statement that the minister applied for exemption. The NYSC law is clear and straightforward and should be so applied in this matter. It is clear that there is a conspiracy to bury the allegations and redirect the attention of Nigerians to other matters. It therefore behoves the President to intervene for the sake of his personal integrity and that of the administration he leads. Let no one fool the government that the continued stay of Mrs Kemi Adeosun as the Minister of Finance without an express response to the allegation levelled against her is not a dent on the integrity stance of President Buhari. The President must act now and restore integrity in his government. It is not in the country’s interest to have anyone with this scale of scandal occupy such an important office. Indeed, in a decent environment, the Minister would have resigned immediately the scandal broke.
Already, the image of Buhari’s administration and indeed Nigeria’s external image has been dented by the Adeosun NYSC scandal and it is time for the President to act.
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