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Published On: Mon, Sep 24th, 2018

Adeosun: Betrayed by a dysfunctional system (Editorial)

Kemi Adeosun, former Finance Minister

A fortnight ago, former Finance Minister Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, resigned her position following the report of an investigative panel into allegations of NYSC certificate forgery against her. The allegation had been earlier made by an online newspaper, Premium Times, and the nation was agog with speculations about it.

Her resignation has been interpreted by most people as a confirmation of her guilt; which, of course, it appears very well so. However, it would be definitely unreasonable and unfair to make her an escape goat as her case may not be actually peculiar. The joke actually is on us as a nation and not Mrs. Adeosun who was a victim of a dysfunctional system to which many people could also be vulnerable without their knowledge.

In her letter of resignation, Adeosun said, “I was born and raised in the United Kingdom… My visits to Nigeria up until the age of thirty-four (34) were holidays, with visas obtained in my UK passport. I obtained my first Nigerian passport at the age of thirty-four (34) and when I relocated there was debate as to whether NYSC Law applied to me.

“.. I was informed that due to my residency history and having exceeded the age of thirty (30), I was exempted from the requirement to serve…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 c, visited the premises, been privy to, nor familiar with their operations, I had no reason to suspect that the certificate was anything but genuine.

According to the letter, she subsequently presented the certificate at the 2011 Ogun State House of Assembly and in 2015 for Directorate of State Services (DSS) Clearance as well as to the National Assembly for screening. In view of the report’s findings she decided to throw in the towel on Friday September 12 2018.

A few issues arise from the letter and her action. Her resignation is historic being the second of such after former Speaker of the House of Reps was forced to quit following revelations of his forged degree certificate allegedly from Toronto University.

Given the insensitive and arrogant attitude of this government toward issues of corruption and public probity, she could actually have exploited her closeness to the President to remain in office.

After all she is not the first person to be so accused of certificate fraud in this government, or even corruption; the president’s SSA Chief Obla is alleged to have studied law with a forged WASC result. He is still in government and actually boasted last week that he was not under any pressure to quit.

We therefore commend the courage and integrity of Mrs. Adeosun by taking the honourable way rather than sell her conscience on the altar of self interest. She is honourable indeed!

What is the value and authenticity of the documents being paraded by most people, especially public officers? How could anyone be confident about the document issued by some government agencies? Given the fact that touting is so pervasive in our society especially in dealing with government agencies and institutions, because of the corruption and inefficiency, how can one be sure of documents issued by them?

Beyond the fact of the culpability of Mrs. Adeosun, what role did the NYSC play in the ugly saga? NYSC acknowledged her application for exemption, but what happened to the response; why was the application not treated – approved or rejected. That is a major failing by the institution.

Every request or application received by an agency deserves, indeed demands attention and response. Why was her application not attended to? The obvious explanation is that those charged with the task of handling such matter were waiting for some form of gratification or inducement.

The matter is simple and automatic: It is either that you are qualified and merit exemption or not, and the applicant deserves an answer either way. So why was such answer not given to her request? It is this kind of situations and practices that create the poor image and non performance of the public service.

But the failure was not only by the NYSC. What could explain the fact that she was screened at both the state level as a commissioner nominee and then the Senate without this matter being uncovered? This further reinforces the perfunctory and lackluster manner public officers and institutions approach their responsibilities and duties.

However, of greater significance is the fact that the senate actually knew about the forgery and took advantage of her; this is condemnable and exposes the unconscionable and amoral nature of our public officials who have placed personal interests above public good.

That the senate of the nation could be involved in racketeering and blackmail instead of exposing the misdeed, is to say the least, alarming and indefensible.

Wouldn’t it have been better for the senate to expose the forgery during screening which would have enhanced their credibility, than allowing this national embarrassment to happen? Fortunately, it was the same senate that capriciously blew the lid on the case.

But damning and inexcusable is the role of the DSS in the whole debacle. The DSS is the nation’s top intelligence agency charged with ensuring the safety, protection, peace and orderly government, including the moral integrity of public officers. To have investigated her twice without raising the red flag is indicative of the moral and systemic collapse.

This newspaper believes it is a system problems characterized by touting and forgery, racketeering, and corruption. Mrs. Adeosun is a victim of system failure and there may be many people carrying certificates of questionable origin and validity or genuineness. We call on all public agencies and institutions to be alive to their responsibilities and always do the needful to justify their pay and public confidence.

Her case raises the issue of system performance and corruption which is symptomatic of our national life; we must reduce as much as possible human interactions and interface in public institution processes to eliminate such manipulations for pecuniary benefits.

There is need for digitalisation of government activities to track process and actions of public officers to reduce corrupting human interventions. This is the only way to improve efficiency and effectiveness and probity of public institutions.

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