Mrs Adeosun resigned her appointment following pressure from the public over her forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate.
- Some Nigerians call for her prosecution, others hail action, as former finance minister jets out to london
Desmond Mgboh (Kano), Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Uche Usim, Romanus Ugwu (Abuja),Sylvanus Viashima(Jalingo), Abdullahi Hassan (Zaria), Sola Ojo (Kaduna), Oluseye Ojo, (Ibadan)
Barely 24 hours after she resigned her appointment as Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has travelled to London, apparently to cool off and map out the next phase of her life.
Sunday Sun learnt that the minister traveled on Friday night aboard British Airways via the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Earlier on Friday, Mrs Adeosun had worked at her office from 10:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m.
She did not attend the 40th and mid-year Statutory Convergence Council meeting of Ministers of Finance and Governors of Central Banks of the West African Monitoring Zone, held in Abuja.
She asked the Permanent Secretary, Dr Mahmoud Isa Dutse, to represent her.
Her last day as a Finance Minister was very busy as she worked from morning till 11:00 p.m. before packing her belongings and held a prayer session with members of her staff, who wept as they prayed and thanked God for His grace over her as she piloted the affairs of the ministry for over three years.
Mrs Adeosun resigned her appointment following pressure from the public over her forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate. This is the first time a Federal Minister will quit office over an allegation.
READ ALSO: Finance Minister Adeosun finally quits
Meanwhile, Nigerians have been reacting to the development, which came after more than 50 days of sustained pressure by a cross section of Nigerians, who were furious at the seeming double standard of the Federal Government in the handling of the matter.
The Peoples Democratic Party, which the leaders of the All Progressives Congress had for the past three and half years consistently painted as personification of corruption, in its reaction called for Mrs Adeosun’s immediate arrest and prosecution.
In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said Mrs Adeosun should be arrested and prosecuted for allegedly evading national service, in addition to other alleged impropriety and abuse of office as a minister. The opposition party said if not for the sustained public outcry by Nigerians for the former finance minister to resign, after media reports indicated that her National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate was fake, she would not have resigned.
The statement read in part: “Our investigations reveal that the Federal Government, which earlier made efforts to defend Mrs Adeosun, has already perfected a plot to help her to evade prosecution following fears that she could open up on the humongous corruption going on in the financial sector under the Buhari administration.
“We are also aware that President Buhari was not by any measure prepared to drop her from his cabinet, but for the demand by those responsible for her appointment, who protested her continued stay in office, although for their own selfish gains. A case of corruption fighting back!”
The opposition party also demanded for open inquest into the records of the Finance Ministry under Mrs Adeosun, so as to unravel alleged improprieties by “the Buhari Presidency cabal, including alleged diversion of oil proceeds, fraudulent oil subsidy deals, leading to high fuel price; depletion of our foreign reserves, embezzlement of funds returned by Switzerland and other huge sleazes in the ministry.”
The PDP added that President Buhari must be held responsible for all alleged infractions in the finance ministry under Mrs Adeosun, for failing to do due diligence before her appointment.
“Nigerians already know that the Presidency is a citadel of iniquity with inherent proficiency in stealing, forgery and manipulation of processes. This perhaps explains why President Buhari has not relieved his Special Assistant on Prosecution and Chairman of the Special Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, of his appointment in spite of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) confirmation that he forged his Secondary School Certificate.
“Is it not clear to all that the Buhari administration’s so-called anti-corruption war and purported integrity are mere orchestrations to hoodwink Nigerians and the international community, while Mr President oversees the most corrupt administration in the history of our nation?” the PDP queried.
However, the chairman of the Jigawa State Chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Baffa Alhassan, said that the resignation of Mrs Adeosun was a clear indication that President Buhari is fighting corruption from within.
“If you compare the situation with the previous regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan, when his Petroleum Minister, Diezeni Allison-Madueke, was accused of corruption, but was shielded by the president, one can safely conclude that Nigeria is progressing under this administration. The resignation of finance minister is more than politics, because she is one of the favourites under this administration, but resigned probably due to pressure from within and outside the government.
“Other government officials accused of corruption or misconduct should follow the path of honour and resign. We don’t want to see the government defending its officials without conducting investigations and its findings made public. With the current development, Nigerian’s believe that President Buhari belongs to no everybody and belongs to nobody.”
On his part, the National Publicity Secretary of pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, the resignation of Mrs Adeosun was not based on the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration, but on personal morality.
When asked if her resignation meant that the anti-corruption war is alive or it is just 2019 politics, Odumakin stated: “I must say that her resignation is an honourable thing because we have had a situation in this country where people who have been accused of such or even worse things, have held on to office. They refused to leave their office and continued to put the system under stress.
“So, I want to say that it is an honourable thing for somebody to be accused of infraction of law and honourably leaves the office. In the report that I read, she said she was embarrassed and shocked to hear that the certificate she was given was forged, and, therefore, she decided to resign.
“So, Kemi Adeosun’s resignation on its own is not enough to judge the anti-corruption war of this administration because there are people who did worse things than her, who are still in government, who never took such a decision. What about Maina? What about the ‘Grass Cutter?’ So, I think it is about personal morality than anti-corruption war of the government.”
On whether she should be prosecuted, Odumakin said: “Well, I have read her statement. This is somebody, who as at the time she graduated, she had not been to Nigeria. She is only a Nigerian by birth. She was not born here. She explained how she obtained the certificate. So, personally I will not recommend her for prosecution. She has taken the moral high road. Even, if she has committed an infraction, to face the public by dropping her resignation letter as Minister of Finance is enough.”
Secretary General, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Anthony Sani, described the resignation of Mrs Adeosun as indicative that the fight against corruption is getting into popular consciousness of corrupt public officers. He urged more corrupt officials to do the same thing.
His word: “I am delighted with the resignation which borders on moral imperative. If public officers whose actions are called into question decide to resign on moral imperative, it would mean the fight against corruption is getting into popular consciousness. Public officers whose actions do not conform to moral mores do not have to wait for the appointing authority to remove them. They should resign when their content of character are called into question. That is the significance of common decency.
“I think Nigerians must know the differences between fight against material corruption and moral corruption, which borders on common decency. While the two are necessary for a decent society, it is important to note that the two cannot be fought effectively at the same time. I guess the regime has priority in the fight against corruption. Fight against moral corruption has to do with values which we all share that have collapsed. And it will take some time to enthrone.”
For the former Managing Director, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Rislanudeen Muhammad, Mrs Adeosun’s resignation came a little late considering the concomitant integrity deficit.
He also blamed the Federal Government for maintaining deafening silence on the matter.
He said: “The minister ought to have resigned much earlier as the whole matter boils down on integrity. The weight of the allegation ought to have attracted immediate response from the government.
“There won’t be any negative impact on the economy. Rather, her initial silence and inaction would have put the integrity of our country as per observance of rule of law to question. Authorities would have to put up a closure on the forgery issue for posterity.
Also commenting on the development, the first Nigerian Professor on the Capital Market and Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Prof Uche Uwaleke, explained that the resignation of Mrs Adeosun over allegations of a forged NYSC certificate bodes well for the image of the country and so therefore will be positive for the Nigerian economy.
“Coming shortly before the period President Buhari is expected to address the UN General Assembly, her decision to step aside will send the right signals to the international community. It goes without saying that the ministry over which she superintends is critical to the implementation of financial reforms and this administration’s anti-corruption fight.
“Therefore, for any measure of success to be recorded, the occupant of that office must be free from moral burden. In this regard, I commend her decision.”
In his comments on the development, the chairman, Northern Elders Forum, Prof Ango Abdullahi, agreed with Sani and Odumakin, and opined that Adeosun’s resignation was done on moral grounds and definitely not an indication of government commitment to the fight against corruption.
Ango said: “To me personally, there is nothing to consider in her resignation as justification of government commitment in fight against corruption as many described it. Rather the woman chose to resign because of the pressure from some Nigerians on her, following allegation of falsification of NYSC exemption certificate and her personal respect, for which she must be commended.”
According to him, there are allegations of serious corruption within the power circle of the president, but up till now nobody resigned instead the suspects are growing wings in the system.
“Although I am yet to be briefed on the reason behind her resignation, but if it was on NYSC certificate her case could have been resolved if NYSC had reacted over the matter long ago.
“I know the contradictions in her explanation that she returned to Nigeria at the age of 34 years, and the NYSC said the minimum age for exemption of service is 30 years and above, which the circumstances whether she served or was exempted could have been solved by NYSC pronouncement. I think, the Finance Minister has done the right thing on grounds of her personality, respect and honour. A similar thing is expected from top government officials, who were supposed to have done it long ago, but refused. So to me, government should not take credit that her resignation for the fight against corruption.
“The Finance Minister’s resignation is not enough. This is not enough to say we are fighting a serious fight against corruption because it is not just about NYSC certificate scandal. It’s about dealing with those who have stolen billions many of whom are still sitting in government.
“We need more resignations from the people that are around and against whom there are so many complaints in their offices. Nigerians should dig more to unravel more and see how many of them can take a bow and leave like the minister has done.”
From Akure, a human rights activist, Mr Waheed Saka, said that Mrs Adeosun should be prosecuted for using fake NYSC exemption letter to secure political appointment.
Although Saka hailed her for resigning, he maintained that action was not enough in her case. Saka who is the coordinator of the Committee for Democracy and Rights of the People (CDRP) said Mrs Adeosun’s resignation was an indication that President Buhari was fighting corruption.
He said: “This is a testament to the anti-corruption war, it shows that the need to salvage Nigeria is seriously alive, though coming after citizen uproar.
“She has done the right thing by resigning, but the government must purge itself from within before the war can be won from without. The Attorney General of the Federation should also file a case against Kemi Adeosun so that the resignation will not be perceived as window dressing and afterthought.
“By her resignation, all others with negative baggage within the Buhari administration should also resign without further delay. The president must also be proactive in dismissing errant members of the cabinet because Nigerians love to see those who corruptly impoverish them either in jail or face the death sentence.
“Those who are also with other fake certificates at all levels of government should also resign and those gubernatorial hopefuls battling certificate scandal must as a matter of importance stay away from our body polity. Our collective vigilance will eventually win the war against corruption and corrupt practices.”
The member representing Bali/Gassol Federal Constituency, Alhaji Garba Garbachede, portrayed Mrs Adeosun’s resignation as a milestone in the present administration’s war against corruption.
Garbachede said that the resignation of one of the top ministers on grounds of corruption is a testament to the fact that the president was determined to fight corruption irrespective of who is involved.
The representative said that the presidency had done its part and it was left for the relevant authorities to take up the matter and ensure that the law takes its full course.
“This government came to office with three cardinal objectives of fighting corruption, insecurity and restoring the economy, with the war against corruption as a top priority. The resignation of the minister of finance who is one of the top ministers in this government shows that this government is determined to fight corruption in all its forms and not minding who is involved.
“If she had remained in the government after the allegations against her, it would have been a slap on the face of the government. At first, the government set up a panel of inquiry that investigated the case and found out that the case against her was true. So, the only honourable thing for her to do was to resign and spare the government its name before she would have been forced to do so,” Garbachede said.
Garbachede disclosed that the minister had denied the allegations against her at the initial stage, prompting the constitution of the panel, which found out that she had actually absconded from service and she had no choice, but to resign.
More condemnation of the finance minister came from the chairman of the Young Democratic Party (YDP), Bishop Emmanuel Amakiri, who said that President Buhari could not exonerate himself from the scandal.
Amakiri argued that it was shocking that she lasted to this moment without quitting, stressing that a person with questionable NYSC exemption certificate like Mrs Adeosun, there is no reason the Nigerian economy should not be on life support.
“The truth is coming out gradually that President Buhari surrounded himself with incompetent people. It is a confirmation that the administration is riding on mischief. It further confirmed that this administration has failed the country abysmally in all ramifications.
“To think that Buhari appointed a person with questionable certificate to manage the economy of a big country like Nigeria was bad enough, but for her to have stayed till now is adding salt to a painful wound. We thought she would have resigned before now when the whole saga was still fresh.
“We can now see why our economy is on life support. I have always said that the government of APC is the more you look the less you see; a government of abracadabra. In Adeosun’s case, it won’t be a matter of go and sin no more. “Corruption is in different categories and I want to say that in the developed world, people pay for their actions and inactions. I don’t blame her; I rather blame President Buhari, who appointed her. “She is a huge embarrassment to this country and we don’t need to urge him to prosecute her. If Buhari wants to prove that he is a man of integrity and serious to fight corruption, he should do the needful,” Amakiri said.
Hon. Yusuf Ayo Tajudeen, member, representing Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency, also gave hard knocks to the government and dismissed the resignation of Mrs Adeosun as a ploy by the Buhari administration to deceive unsuspecting Nigerians ahead of the 2019 elections.
He said: “There is nothing serious or new about the development. It is just a ploy to deceive unsuspecting public. It is all toward 2019. She was given enough time to prepare her exit. The Presidency has not made a statement about the scandal till date. Don’t forget that she supervised the unprecedented borrowing of about N13 trillion in three years.”
In his reaction, Peter Esele, former president of Trade Union Congress, said that if anybody should take credit for the development, it is the media.
“No matter the circumstance, the minister did what she had to do. There are equally more people in government today that have worse integrity issues. The security agencies should go the whole hog. Whether this is a victory for anti-corruption, that is subject for another day. If anyone must take credit it’s the media.”
Agreeing with Esele, another human rights activist, Otive Igbuzor, said it’s a victory for investigative journalism.
“The resignation demonstrates the power of investigative journalism and citizens voice,” Igbuzor said.
Also dismissing the resignation as a non-issue, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said: “Just last week the presidency issued a statement blackmailing those who were asking the government to take action against this established case of forgery committed by the former Minister of Finance Madam Kemi. I will rather believe it has to do with the politics of 2019 election, to show that the government doesn’t encourage this kind of gross violation of our law but at the same time they were defending her. More so, instead of taking sanctions against her the government is thanking her which means it was just purely political resignation. There are similar cases in this government, but the president has not taken any action against them rather what we witness is silence.”
Eminent lawyer and Dean, Faculty of Law, Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) as well as senatorial aspirant for Enugu East on the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Prof. Gab Agu and former Attorney General of Ebonyi State and Associate Professor, Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Dr. Benjamin Igwenyi, said the resignation of Mrs Adeosun was long overdue.
They called for her outright prosecution for forgery and the refund of her earnings as minister. “It’s a good development, but came a little too late because there was no information relating to the issue that was not before her from the beginning. She knew she didn’t get the right thing; she knew it was forged; she knew she didn’t participate in the programme. Why didn’t she resign immediately the news broke out? I think she should refund all the money she has taken – salaries and allowances – and surrender herself for prosecution,” the legal luminary suggested.
Agu also said that her resignation could not be a plus for the anti-corruption fight of the Buhari-led administration because nobody induced her to resign. In his view, Adeosun was allowed to stay as if she did not do anything.
“She was not prompted to resign. One would have expected that the anti-corruption agencies would have moved in earlier than now,” he stated.
Similarly, Igwenyi said that the resignation was just to give impression that the administration’s anti-corruption fight was potent whereas corruption was written all over the administration.
The Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr Kunle Olajide, commended Mrs Adeosun for resigning her position as minister of finance based on issues that surrounded the exemption certificate of the NYSC, which she presented for screening prior to her appointment.
“We are proud of her achievements in office because she assumed duty at a difficult time in the history of the country. She steered Nigeria out of recession when many did not give her a chance to do so. YCE commends her courage to resign honourably when she discovered that her paper was not genuine.
“But some people are behind this, the people that have been hurt by certain decisions she has had to take. For example, exposing the rot in the NNPC, and by so doing, she stepped on big toes. They never wanted any opportunity to spare her.
“They capitalized on this opportunity that she has to go with her outstanding performance, and politics of godfatherism. As I was reliably informed, perhaps a godfather from the South West, is considering sending somebody to replace her because she has fallen apart with him, perhaps ‘the godfather of Adeosun. And that is why they all conspired to remove her. But it has to do with the politics of 2019.
“I recall that the same certificate was presented to Ogun State legislature that cleared her to become Commissioner for Finance. She served as commissioner for four years. The same certificate was cleared by the Senate to become a minister. I am sure the certificate must have been forwarded to the Directorate of State Security Service and so on. She was cleared. So, we can see institutional failures in this.
“In my opinion, if she had meant to be fraudulent, she would have used her positions, either as Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State or as a Minister of Finance to perfect her inadequacy and obtain a genuine certificate. If she was aware that her paper was fake, she had held enough high profile positions in this country, which she would have used to regularise her NYSC.
“As Minister of Finance in Nigeria for over three years, where the budget of NYSC is signed regularly, if she was fraudulent, she would have used her office to regularise it. She trusted people to a fault. So, for me, I am, not eulogising any anti-corruption war. It is all about 2019 politics.”