This article is part of our #FirstWord series to provide context on trending news.
According to a Premium Times report, Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun skipped the compulsory one-year youth service. In 1989, the minister earned a BSc in Economics from the University of East London and went ahead to work in various organisations in the United Kingdom. She apparently forged an NYSC exemption certificate years after her graduation from University.
The NYSC factor
The National Youth Service Corps is compulsory for all Nigerians who graduate from Universities or equivalent institutions and are below the age of 30. The service is a must for anyone seeking private and Government sector jobs in Nigeria.
Mrs Adeosun allegedly forged credentials stating that she was exempted from the mandatory service on account of age. Her exemption certificate was issued in September 2009 and signed by Yusuf Bomoi, former NYSC Director-General. However, officials say that Mr Bomoi stepped down from NYSC in January 2009, and could not have signed any certificate 8 months after.
The Nigerian law prescribes punishment for anyone who deliberately shelves the scheme or presents fake certificates. The section 13 of the NYSC law, for example, states that eligible Nigerians who skipped service are liable to 12 months imprisonment and/or a fine of ₦2000. Within the same section, it is also clear that giving false information or obtaining the agency’s certificate illegally is criminal with up to a 3-year jail sentence.
And then comes the blackmail
The most interesting part of Kemi Adeosun’s NYSC drama is not the forged exemption certificate, but the fact that it became a tool for blackmail. According to Premium Times, the certificate scandal was turned into a tool for blackmail by some members of the National Assembly. Allegedly, some federal lawmakers coerced the minister of finance to keep releasing funds to the lawmaking arm of Government rather than probe her certificate issue.
There have been reports around how the minister helped enrich the National Assembly through unapproved projects and inappropriate cash payments to the legislative. One of the most recent being 10 million Naira cash illegally passed to them through the Minister and Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
Kemi Adeosun’s actions generated nationwide uproar, particularly among civil society activists who wondered the motive of the relationship between both parties. While it is not completely confirmed that the minister’s actions are as a result of blackmail from the National Assembly over her NYSC exemption certificate, one must question the motive behind her backdoor deals with the lawmakers.
There have been calls from concerned citizens and activists demanding that Mrs Adeosun is sacked by the Presidency for her actions. Mrs Adeosun, the NYSC office and Presidency at the time of writing this are yet to comment on the issue. It is, however, worth following to observe how things unfold.