Four weeks after the management of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) promised to investigate a certificate scandal involving the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, the Corps has continued to ignore Nigerians.
On June 7, PREMIUM TIMES reported that the minister did not participate in the mandatory one year national service despite her eligibility for it, but went on to obtain a fake exemption certificate, despite her clear ineligibility for exemption.
On July 9, the NYSC management issued a rather vague press statement distancing itself from the certificate paraded by Mrs Adeosun but at the same time claiming that the minister had applied for the certificate.
On the same day, NYSC’s director of information, Adenike Adeyemi, told PREMIUM TIMES that the service will update this newspaper and Nigerians once the verification process is concluded.
This newspaper is however yet to get any response from the NYSC.
Repeated calls and a text message sent to Mrs Adeyemi over the last week were not answered.
When the news broke, Nigerians online expressed outrage demanding Mrs Adeosun defend herself or resign from her post. Some also asked President Buhari to sack the minister if she failed to provide explanations.
Four weeks since the story was published, both the government and Mrs Adeosun have maintained a studied silence, fuelling outrage among Nigerians.
The Punch, one of the national dailies that have weighed in, in an editorial published on July 27 said the silence of Mrs Adeosun and the government is “very disrespectful of the right of Nigerians to know”.
But while the government apparently hopes ignoring the issues raised will push the matter to oblivion, it appears Nigerians are not willing to let it pass, going by the incessant demands for probity on the matter.
“Adeosun has kept an undignified silence about so grave an allegation and her employers, the Federal Government, has been wooly-mouthed in its comment on the matter,” wrote The Guardian (Nigeria) in a July 25 editorial.
In the days since the story was first published, at least two former officials of the NYSC – A retired director of mobilisation, and a former director general of the Corps publicly dismissed the possibility of Mrs Adeosun obtaining such document from the NYSC.
Maharazu Tsiga, who was the NYSC boss as at September 2009, the period Mrs Adeosun’s purported certificate was allegedly issued,told PREMIUM TIMES that there was no way such a thing could happen, stressing that service is mandatory for anyone who graduated within the required age.
Days after the scandal broke out, PREMIUM TIMES reported that officials of the NYSC were being pressured to find a soft landing for Mrs Adeosun and blame the embarrassing scandal on some scapegoats.
In a July 15 editorial, Daily Trust criticised the minister and the federal government for keeping silent on the issue, warning that attempts to shield Mrs Adeosun from “sack and prosecution” will make the government’s “touted anti-corruption stance” to “fly out through the window”.
According to the newspaper, “It is very strange indeed that a top government official will keep mute when such a serious allegation is made against her. It is doubly strange that the Buhari Presidency, which at the drop of the coin touts integrity and anti-corruption as its defining ethic, has kept mute over this matter for so long”.
In its editorial, The Punch described as sad “that Nigeria is once again making herself a laughing stock before other nations. What everybody expects is that, by now, the government should have set the machinery in motion to carry out a thorough investigation into the entire sordid affair”.
The newspaper, agreed with many other commentators on what the government ought to have done “if the minister herself does not consider it fit to step down for her name to be cleared”. The Punch editors wrote that “it is the responsibility of the government to have asked her to do so”.
The Guardian, summarised that, with this scandal, “decent Nigerians and friends of Nigeria elsewhere, lament the loss of a sense of shame and the increasing dearth of integrity in high places in this land”.
A recent report by PREMIUM TIMES also revealed how the minister has since abandoned her official social media handles since the scandal broke out.