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Adeosun: Adeosun’s honourable exit



I wept daily for three months during my NYSC certificate saga – Adeosun

Kemi Adeosun, former Finance Minister


Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, it was reported, who submitted her resignation letter last week following lingering controversies about her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Certificate, represented the bright spot in this blighted government, but would be remembered by many for the wrong reasons.

The allegation that she had forged an NYSC exemption certificate having failed to do the compulsory National Service has not done her reputation any good. And in a sense, for many, her decision to leave could have come earlier than it did because, according to them, the finance ministry was originally beyond her capacity.

“She isn’t the only Nigerian who can do that job. She is not even an economist. I don’t think she understands a lot of what she does,” noted Dr. Adi Bongo, lecturer at Lagos Business School.

“You can’t compare her with (Ngozi) Okonjo-Iweala. This is somebody who graduated from a polytechnic in London. She has little to offer.”

Stepping into the big shoes of Okonjo-Iweala, her predecessor in office who had climbed the height of her profession as Managing Director of the World Bank, Adeosun whose highest office had been Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State, was, it could be said, assigned a job beyond her standing.

Few people had given her a chance. And for Dr. Adi, those who had reservations about her capacity to deliver have been vindicated, if not for anything else, because she ‘disobeyed the constitution.’

“She is said to have committed a crime by going against the constitutional provision that mandates everyone that graduated under 30 years of age to enroll in the National Youth Service,” Adi said.

“The honourable thing to would have been for her to resign as soon as the revelation was made.”

But while Adeosun will mostly be remembered for her NYSC controversy and dismissed as the minister who was in charge when the country’s economy plunged into a recession, there is a sense in which she could be said to have done creditably well given the circumstance, her NYSC certificate saga apart.

Managing an economy that now deploys 70 percent of its revenue to recurrent expenditure is certainly not an enviable job. Indeed, it is tantamount to managing an economy in crisis. And Adeosun may not have done a terrible job of it after all.

There is, perhaps, no better way to paint the picture of the deplorable condition of the Nigerian economy and the resultant headache of Adeosun and her economic management team in the face of the nation’s frightening debt profile.

Serving a government which seems to think that borrowing is a kind of freebies is bad enough. But being in a situation where you cannot conveniently stamp your authority is even worse.

The minister’s frustration became apparent sometime last year when she stated categorically at business forum in Abuja that, “We cannot borrow anymore.  We just have to generate funds domestically enough to fund our budget; mobilize revenue to fund the necessary budget increase.”

But barely 24 hours later, she was compelled to recant her position and she did, much to the chagrin of Nigerians. She was a Finance Minister who only said, or even did what she was asked to do.

She has had to sit and watch while the Buhari administration kept piling up the debt profile of the country, dangerously. And while ordinarily, one would hold a Finance Minister to account for such reckless borrowing, in Adeosun’s case, she may have just been an unwilling accomplice.

“The job she does as Minister of Finance is a book keeping job,” said analyst and former banker, Mr. Boniface Chizea. “From what we saw from outside, she managed herself well.


“She is supposed to supervise agencies like Customs. But we all know that the man there is a very stubborn man and will not listen to her. But the revenue of customs grew and there was no blow out. She was able to manage it to avoid an encounter with the man.”

With Budget and National Planning removed from Finance Ministry, Adeosun has had less to do when compared to Okonjo-Iweala. But even the little she had to do, she may have been limited by other circumstances.

Thus, while many may be right to assert that the economy under her has done badly, it may be uncharitable to hold her responsible. And in any case, according to Chizea, there are still areas she impacted positively.

“There were some issues with SEC when she tried to remove the DG. We don’t know how that was resolved. But she took a decision to remove the DG,” said Chizea.

“And if you look at FIRS which is under her, we must give her credit for the increase in IGR. Even though, we know that (Babatunde) Fowler is an experienced hand but she must take some credit because she supervises them.”

Chizea also made the point about her pedigree not being at par with that of her predecessor. And therefore, concludes that she was coming with a burden of expectation.

“If you compare her to Okonjo-Iweala who came here from the World Bank where she was Managing Director and put her side by side with Adeosun who was a commissioner, she had a burden of expectation coming into the job,” he said.

“She didn’t have the track record and if you look at the school she went to, she didn’t go to any particularly reputable school. She went to a polytechnic.

“If you look at the lady, unfortunately her profile coming into that job did not give her a leg up really. So, psychology is there. All said and done, she has done her best. Posterity will judge whether she did well or not.”

But there is no denying that, if proven to be true that the minister forged her NYSC exemption certificate, it is a criminal offence that must be condemned. “It shows that she is a corrupt person,” Adi said. “How do you justify the immorality of such person?

“She was employed, but she should have disclosed to her employer that she didn’t have NYSC certificate or that she that forged it. She lacks honesty.

“You can’t trust state finances in the hands of somebody who is not honest. So, we shouldn’t even be talking about competence. Competence without character is nonsense.”



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