For more than a week now, neither Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun nor the Presidency have said anything definite about the National Youth Service Corps [NYSC] exemption certificate scandal swirling around the minister. The matter first came to light when the online newspaper Premium Times reported that its investigation showed the exemption certificate Mrs. Adeosun tendered to the Senate during her ministerial screening in 2015 was fake. 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.
Daily Trust has summarized where matters stand as follows. Kemi Adeosun was born in England in 1967. She did all her schooling in England and graduated from The Polytechnic of East London [now University of East London] in 1989 at the age of 22. By the provisions of the NYSC Act, anyone who graduates under 30 years of age must undergo a mandatory one year’s national service. Otherwise, he or she cannot be employed in the public or private sector in Nigeria, and could also be jailed.
However, the Act provides conditions for being given an exemption certificate. These include graduating above the age of 30; having been awarded a national honour; or being a member of the security forces. Mrs. Adeosun did not meet any of those exemption provisions. If she had simply remained abroad, she would have been beyond the reach of the NYSC laws. Yet, she returned to Nigeria in 2009 and applied for a certificate of exemption. What reasons she gave in her letter of application, the public does not know yet. She then obtained the certificate allegedly signed by Brigadier General Yusuf Bomoi, who passed away late last year.
The snag is, Bomoi had left the NYSC top job in January 2009 and returned to the Army Education Corps. There was no chance that he could have signed such a “certificate,” which could embroil him in scandal, cost him his Army job and possibly even sent him to prison. All those who knew him also testified that he was a very honourable and very dutiful soldier.
Premium Times quoted an NYSC official as having told them that Adeosun’s certificate is smaller than the one they normally issue. And also that the calligraphy is different, which suggests it was the kind of certificate one obtains under the bridge in Lagos. All the NYSC management could say, weeks after they were first asked, is the Minister had actually applied for an Exemption Certificate. They refused to say whether or not it was issued. They however said the scheme will investigate the origin of her exemption certificate.
Minister of Youths and Sports Solomon Dalung was also mum, only saying he summoned NYSC Director General Brigadier General Suleiman Kazaure “to obtain firsthand information.” Minister of Information Lai Mohammed only said that government aligned itself with what NYSC said. Let us state it firmly. Whoever issued an exemption certificate to Mrs. Adeosun did so illegally because she graduated under the age of 30, had no national honour and was not a security officer. If the Presidency through NYSC attempts anything that shields her from the sack and prosecution, all their touted anti-corruption stance will fly out through the window.