10 July 2018

Nigeria: #AdeosunGate - Eight Things to Know About Minister's Questionable NYSC Certificate

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#AdeosunGate

Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun is still reeling from revelations that she probably forged a certificate of exemption she claimed was issued to her by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), three days after PREMIUM TIMES published an investigation that exposed her scandalous manipulation of public documents.

Neither Mrs Adeosun nor the Buhari administration has responded to the scandal, an inexplicable hush that has further incensed the public.

In a response that left more questions than it answered, the NYSC said on Monday that Mrs Adeosun applied for an exemption certificate, but did not say whether it was approved or not.

The department, nonetheless, described as "purported" the certificate the finance minister hitherto paraded and promised prompt investigation.

Perhaps not to be seen as having gone underground herself, Mrs Adeosun's office circulated pictures of her holding talks with International Monetary Fund executives on Mondayafternoon, a disclosure that appeared aimed more at striking a political pose than extricating the minister of highly incriminating revelations of forgery.

But as the nation awaits Mrs Adeosun or NYSC's holistic clarification on the scandal, which has now mushroomed into a forensic litigation, PREMIUM TIMES has excerpted eight quick facts that readers may want to know about #KemoGate.

1. Mrs Adeosun was born in 1967 and graduated in 1989 at the age of 22. She was born in England and obtained all her education there, graduating from the Polytechnic of East London, now University of East London.

2. The NYSC Act required she must serve because she graduated below the age of 30. Only those above the age of 30 or have been awarded national honours or fall into any of the exemption categories enumerated in Section 2 (2) of the Act can be eligible for formal employment in the country.

Therefore, notwithstanding how old Mrs Adeosun may be, she will have to enroll for NYSC because she graduated before 30. Some commentators have argued that saying a citizen must serve even at the age of 100 because he or she graduated before 30 is illogical, but that is what the law says.

3. Mrs Adeosun obtained the certificate in September 2009. It has the signature of Yusuf Bomoi, an erstwhile director-general of the NYSC. The problem, though, is that Mr Bomoi, a retired brigadier-general, left office in January 2009. He died last September at 60.

There are arguments that NYSC certificates are pre-signed, and some citizens who graduated in March 2009 have posted their certificates on the Internet that seemingly carried Mr Bomoi's signature. But no one has been able to show certificates that were signed by Mr Bomoi six months after he left the service, much less eight months later as in the case of Mrs Adeosun.

4. NYSC officials were unable to authenticate Mrs Adeosun's purported certificate despite several weeks of efforts.

"This is not the size of our exemption certificate," a top official told PREMIUM TIMES when shown a copy of the so-called exemption certificate Ms Adeosun had been parading. "The calligraphy is also different".

Another official pored over the document and concluded that the sequence of serial numbers for certificates issued in 2009 did not correspond to that in Mrs Adeosun's purported certificate.

5. By law, Mrs Adeosun is unqualified for a formal job in Nigeria without NYSC certificate, and definitely not highly consequential public offices like the commissioner of finance (Ogun State 2011-2015) and the minister of finance (2015-present).

Section 12 of the NYSC Act said employers must demand NYSC certificates from prospective employees.

"For the purposes of employment anywhere in the federation and before employment, it shall be the duty of every prospective employer to demand and obtained from any person who claims to have obtained his first degree at the end of the academic year 1973-74 or, as the case may be, at the end of any subsequent academic year the following:-

"a. a copy of the Certificate of National Service of such person issued pursuant to section 11 of this Decree

"b. a copy of any exemption certificate issued to such person pursuant to section 17 of this Decree

"c. such other particulars relevant there to as may be prescribed by or under this Decree," the section read.

The NYSC was founded in 1973 to foster national integration following the country's Civil War (1967-70). It was established by a decree promulgated by former dictator Yakubu Gowon. It was amended in 1993 and was integrated into the laws of the federation when Nigeria returned to civil rule in 1999.

The NYSC because it is one of the four laws under transitional provisions and savings component of the Constitution. The remaining three laws are the Public Complaints Commission Act, the National Security Agencies Act and the Land Use Act.

Altering any of these four laws requires the same procedure needed to amend the Constitution itself.

6. The State Security Service, which is tasked with conducting thorough screening of presidential nominees, failed to spot the document as a counterfeit when Mrs Adeosun presented it amongst several other credentials during the nomination process.

7. Senators who handled verification of Mrs Adeosun's credentials when President Muhammadu Buhari sent her to the Senate for confirmation as part of the first batch of 21 ministerial nominees in October 2015 discovered that it was an imitation.

But rather than disqualify her on the basis of this, the senators played along and reached a gentlemen's agreement with her that would see her release funds to them with little or no scrutiny.

As PREMIUM TIMES reported in April, Mrs Adeosun has released billions in questionable payouts to lawmakers, which the parliament spent on exotic vehicles even as budgetary allocations to critical health infrastructure are inexplicably withheld by the minister.

At some point, the alliance between the ministers and lawmakers became so crucial that she released funds to their pet projects despite express directive from the president that she should not do so.

Some lawmakers who recently spoke with PREMIUM TIMES admitted they were using the 'kompromat' to blackmail Mrs Adeosun and subdue her into releasing undue funds to them at the expense of the plurality of poor Nigerians.

8. If found guilty, Mrs Adeosun faces up to three years' imprisonment for violating NYSC Act and forgery.

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