The erudite Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, who was enmeshed in certificate forgery mess finally bowed to pressure last week as she handed in her reesignation letter.
Resignation of appointment is a tough decision in this clime but Adeosun braced the odds and dared the consequences. Her erstwhile office has since been allocated to another woman of no less qualification and background.
Many have however wondered why it took her such a long time to resign considering the fact that she came from a society where honour and integrity are not only being upheld but are being venerated. Fact, according to her, was that she grew up and studied in Britain where any public official with such scandal do not stay a day longer in office whenever the lid is blown open. But, this is Nigeria where right things are seldomly done.
Adeosun, obviously is a victim of the Nigerian factor. A Briton who, according to her, picked up the Nigerian passport at the age of 34 when she was appointed a Commissioner in her native Ogun state in 2011. Understandably, she may be oblivious to what obtains in this country. In her bid to comply with the law of the land, she applied for an exemption certificate from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) but she was eventually scammed.
Adeosun’s experience depicts the dysfunctional system obtainable in the country. A system that gives room to touts to operate. Officials of the NYSC, to whom she applied for exemption certificate, could have helped the woman had it been that they officially responded to her application indicating that the waiver was granted or not. They ignored the letter only for the forgers to take advantage of the situation by procuring her a fake document.
There are suspicions that the fake exemption certificate in Adeosun’s possession may have emanated from some unscrupulous members of staff of the Corps.
In reality, every Nigerian stands the risk of being scammed in similar manner. So many vehicles imported into the country have been impounded by the officials of the Nigeria Customs Services purportedly for default in payment of required import duties and thus carrying fake papers. Many vehicles plying the roads are carrying fake particulars. All these are issued not by ghosts but by officials, most often than not, within the system.
Therefore, many believe that the matter should not just end with the resignation of the former minister. Those involved in the issuance of the fake document should be thoroughly investigated and made to face the law at least to stop this public ridicule being served patriotic citizens of Nigeria.
Again, many have wondered why it took over seven years for the certificate scandal to blow open. This woman passed through security checks first to become a state commissioner where she served for four years. She also went through the scanners of security executives before she was cleared by the Senate to become a minister. The question then is: how come they did not raise this issue then? Could it be that she paid her ways through? Assuming the security checks carried out on her detected that the exemption certificate was not genuine, why did the Ogun state House of Assembly and the Senate confirm her nominations at different times? At what point exactly was it detected that the exemption certificate she had carried for seven years was fake? Questions and many questions.
One clear thing that the President must ensure in order to restore the integrity of the system is to order indepth probe into the whole saga and ensure that those found culpable are brought to book. If it is eventually found that the security screening system detected and reported that the certificate was fake and the lawmakers at both state and federal levels still confirmed her, then the instrument of the law must be activated.
The President should also scan through his appointees to fish out anyone with similar scandal so as not to make it look like Adeosun was hounded out because of her principled stand against the shortage in remittances expected from the NNPC to the federation accounts. It could be recalled that the minister and the state governors queried the NNPC for shortfall in remittances in July and this did not go well with the red necks in that behemoth. Already, many believed that Adeosun was sacrificed for having the temerity to raise questions on how the NNPC was being managed.
The President who is reputed to have zero tolerance for corruption must look into allegations of other officials battling with the burden of certificate forgery allegations in his government. For instance, a Presidential aide, Okoi Obono-Obla has allegedly had his Secondary School Leaving Certificate repudiated by WAEC. This must be investigated and if found true, the official must not only be made to toe Adeosun’s line of action, must also be made to take his date in the court of law.
With this development, Nigerians in the diaspora with expertise, who may want to contribute to national development with their skills, must now be wary. This is because Adeosun’s integrity had been soiled with the fake NYSC exemption certificate scandal. Unless she submits herself to the rigour of litigation to prove her innocence, it is doubtful if she could be eligible to present herself for national service in the future.
The fact that she immediately left the country did not help matters in this case. Many believe that Adeosun should have presented her explanation and stayed put to face the consequences with equanimity.
If indeed she carried a British passport until the age of 34, it is debatable that as at the time she consented to serve Ogun state, whe was not a Nigerian. Since she graduated at 22 as a Briton, and became a Nigerian at 34, far above the service age, she was eligible for the exemption certificate.
Lawyers can also prove that since she applied for the exemption certificate and was issued one, she could argue her innocence in the fake certificate saga because it passed through security checks twice without detection.
There are fears that the career of the amiable minister may have been impaired with the fake certificate scandal. Others in her shoes must be extra careful by double-checking their documents to avoid falling preys to scammers who are not in short supply in this country.