Now that Kemi Adeosun has resigned as Finance Minister, it may be time for lawyers to see if she has a case to answer.
The only downside to this embarrassing tale at the moment is that it took her an eternity to own up and throw in the towel.
Adeosun should have cleared her desk in July, soon after online news platform, Premium Times, blew the lid on the entire NYSC exemption certificate saga. But she didn’t. Instead, she allowed the scandal fester without uttering a word in explanation or defense.
She was waiting for the entire thing to blow away like everything normally does around here. She snubbed an entire nation for two months and allowed whatever goodwill she had garnered up to that point to crash and burn. Maybe, just maybe, all of this could have panned out differently if she had offered an early explanation and tendered a half-hearted apology. She waited to be pushed before taking the plunge.
In her resignation letter to President Buhari, Adeosun writes that she was misled by people she trusted. “On the basis of that advice and with the guidance and assistance of those I thought were trusted associates, NYSC were approached for documentary proof of status. I then received the certificate in question. Having never worked in NYSC, visited the premises, been privy to nor familiar with their operations, I had no reason to suspect that the certificate was anything but genuine”, she said, before adding that: “Be that as it may, as someone totally committed to a culture of probity and accountability, I have decided to resign with effect from Friday, 14th September, 2018”.
The long and short here is that Adeosun acquired all of her education abroad. When she returned—well past the age of serving her country--she didn’t want to go through the rigours of obtaining a genuine exemption certificate with all of the bureaucracy and waste of time that would inevitably entail. She had a job in government waiting. She did what most folks in her shoes would do. She went for the short cut and now her career path has been cut short.
And yet she was one of the finest minds to ever serve in government in this nation of the dumbest lording it over the smartest. She worked assiduously to see Nigeria out of recession. Her policy proposals were always on point. She communicated vivaciously. Colleagues attested to her laudable work ethic, attention to detail and drive. Adeosun was hands-on and pragmatic. She was a fixer. She loved to get things done. And she was fun at cabinet meetings.
But the law is the law. Forgery is a crime. Perjury attracts weighty penalties in the rule book. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, goes the legal cliché. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, Mrs. Adeosun gamed the system and should be prosecuted for gaming the system. This should be a teachable moment for the NYSC, would-be government appointees and folks still acquiring their degrees in schools. And maybe we need to do something about our anachronistic NYSC law after all and refine it to fit a fast paced 21st century society.
As she walks into the midnight, her face cupped in her palms, let’s all salute the media for its relentless pursuit of the truth in this case, President Buhari who prevailed on and nudged her to do what was right for self and country, the social media influencers who made sure the subject was never forgotten and the army of Nigerians everywhere who piled pressure on the administration to do the right thing.
And Adeosun’s eventual resignation is the right thing to do, however belated. May the courts not be reminded to do the right thing from this point.