Adeosun’s NYSC Certificate Scandal: When Leaders Don’t Respect the People

Adeosun’s NYSC Certificate Scandal: When Leaders Don’t Respect the People

By Azuka Onwuka

Kemi Adeosun, Finance Minister

It is said that silence is golden, but when one is accused of forgery, silence cannot be golden. Such silence can either mean consent or lack of respect for the masses. And in the case of the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, both could be the reason.

For over week now, there has been a report from an online news medium, Premium Times, that Adeosun forged her National Youth Service Corps certificate of exemption. The report stated that Adeosun, who studied in the United Kingdom, submitted an exemption certificate dated September 9, 2009, and was purportedly signed by Yusuf Bomoi, a former director-general of the corps. Premium Times reported that the officials of the NYSC said Mr. Bomoi stepped down from the NYSC in January 2009, and could not have signed any certificate for the corps eight months after. Bomoi died in September 2017.

The one-year NYSC scheme is compulsory for any Nigerian graduate who wants to work in Nigeria, except for those who have served in the military or intelligence corps. However, anybody who graduates from a higher institution at above 30 years is given a letter of exemption by the NYSC.

The online news channel noted that there were documents to prove that Adeosun graduated from the Polytechnic of East London in 1989 when she was 22 years old. She worked in different organisations in the UK before returning to Nigeria in 2002 to work for Chapel Hill Denham. Such could not have exempted her from performing her one-year service to Nigeria.

Over a week after this scandal broke, the Finance Minister has not bothered to confirm or deny the report. She has also not resigned. Ironically some days after that scandal broke, two ministers resigned in the UK where Adeosun spent the most part of her life. David Davis and Boris Johnson did not resign because they were accused of anything. They resigned as their way of protesting the handling of the Brexit by Prime Minister, Theresa May. Given that Adeosun lived in the UK, where public officials speedily respond to any allegations against them or even resign swiftly to prove their innocence or avoid influence investigation, it is shameful that Adeosun has kept mum all this while.

It is also unfortunate that President Muhammadu Buhari, who appointed her to serve in his cabinet, has also allowed this stain on his administration without saying anything or taking any action. It is even more embarrassing and hypocritical that this is happening under a leader who came into office brandishing his integrity and promising to fight corruption.

But watchers of events have pointed that it is not the first or even second time such an issue has risen under the tenure of Buhari. First was the issue of Buhari’s secondary school certificate. In spite of all the dust that was raised about it, Buhari never showed that he submitted a secondary school result to the Independent National Electoral Commission before the 2015 election. Rather than show his certificate, his classmates came out to say that he graduated with them. He hired senior lawyers to ensure that the man who sued him for lack of a secondary certificate to withdraw the case rather.

Similarly when a similar allegation was raised againstthe Chairman, Special Presidential Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Property, Mr Okoi Obono-Obla, last month that his West African Examination Council examination result was fake, it was treated with silence until it fizzled out.

It appears that the President has come to the conclusion that Nigerians can bark but cannot bite. So he ignores whatever complaints they have, knowing that within a week something of interest would happen to distract the people from the issue of concern.

The same attitude has marked his relationship with Nigerians in other areas. Buhari rarely speaks to the local media but he speaks to the foreign media. When tragedies occur in parts of Nigeria, Buhari rarely visits such places. In some cases, the governor of the state that has witnessed the tragedy pays the President a visit rather than the other way round. Even when he visits such places, he does so many days or weeks after the incident.

But is that the way leaders treat their citizens in other countries? No. Last week, tragedy struck Japan with rainfall causing flooding and landslides, which claimed many lives. With over one hundred people killed last week, the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Shinzo Abe, cancelled his scheduled trips to four countries (Belgium, France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) “to concentrate on disaster-management measures such as rescue and construction works.” Abe was scheduled to start the trip in Belgium on Wednesday, where he was to sign a huge free trade agreement with the European Union. But because of the cancellation of the trip, the EU President, Donald Tusk, offered to hold that meeting in Tokyo, Japan instead. Abe visited the victims of that disaster, kneeling down on the floor with them to comfort them. Death toll in the disaster is now over 200.

Last week also, the world watched with anxiety as 12 boys and their football coach were rescued from a flooded cave in Thailand, with Thailand throwing everything at its disposal into that mission. Even though the rescue was successful, one of the rescuers died.

That same last week, the world watched as Croatian President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, motivated her country to the World Cup final. She flew economy to be with them in Russia. She wore the Croatian jersey, cheering them from both from the VIP section and regular stands, visiting them at the locker room and hugging the players, some of who wore only shorts with no shirts.

This personal way of relating with the people does not make the leader weak or less powerful. Rather it makes the people to feel loved and respected by their president and their country, which in turn fires their patriotism up, and makes them ever ready to contribute their best to the nation, including being ready to die in the service of their nation.

It was reported over the weekend by some media outlets that a Presidency source said that the Presidency had written to the NYSC to request a probe of the certificate scandal. But such reports from unnamed source should not be trusted, as a serious issue like this does not require to be clothed in secrecy. It also does not need a week to elapse before a reaction should be made by the Presidency on such a weighty issue.

President Buhari won his 2015 election buoyed by the belief that he was a man of integrity. Keeping quiet when a person appointed by him is accused of forgery or fraud runs counter to that integrity. No person is indispensable. Buhari has not shown that hunger to promptly fire aides who have a question mark over them. Even on the cases of his erstwhile Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke, he first of all defended them and cleared them, before a groundswell of opinions forced him to review their cases and later relieve them of their posts. In spite of that, there was no seriousness about investigating them and prosecuting them.

When those who were appointed by the President are not prosecuted for allegations against them, it becomes problematic when members of the opposition are prosecuted. It becomes easy to sell the narrative that the opposition members are being victimised because of their political leaning. This has affected Buhari’s fight against corruption. Ironically, it seems even Buhari himself does not realise this.

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