Nigerians have continued to ventilate their anger on President Muhammadu Buhari, his administration, and the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, for choosing to ignore a certificate forgery scandal involving the minister.
Frontline Nigerian newspapers have written editorials in the last two weeks, amplifying calls by Nigerians for the government and Mrs Adeosun to come out clean on the scandal.
On June 7, PREMIUM TIMES reported that the minister did not participate in the mandatory one year national service, National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), despite her eligibility for it, but went on to forge an exemption certificate.
When the news broke, Nigerians online expressed outrage demanding Mrs Adeosun defend herself or step down from her post. Some also asked President Buhari to ease her out if she could not fault the facts contained in the story.
However, three weeks since the story was published, both the government and Mrs Adeosun have maintained what one newspaper called “audacious contempt” for Nigerians on the scandal.
The Punch, in an editorial published on Friday said the silence of Mrs Adeosun and the government is “very disrespectful of the right of Nigerians to know”.
But while the government apparently hopes ignoring the issues raised will push it to oblivion, it appears Nigerians are not willing to let it pass, going by the incessant demands for probity on the matter.
“Adeosun has kept an un-dignified silence about so grave an allegation and her employers, the Federal Government, has been wooly-mouthed in its comment on the matter,” wrote The Guardian (Nigeria) in a July 25 editorial.
In the days since the story was first published, at least two former officials of the NYSC – a retired director of mobilisation, and a former director general of the Corps, publicly faulted possibility of Mrs Adeosun obtaining such document from the NYSC.
Maharazu Tsiga, who was the NYSC boss as at September 2009, the period Mrs Adeosun’s purported certificate was allegedly issued,told PREMIUM TIMES that there was no way such a thing could happen, stressing that service is mandatory for anyone who graduated within the required age.
Days after the scandal broke out, PREMIUM TIMES reported that officials of the NYSC were being pressured to find a soft landing for Mrs Adeosun and blame the embarrassing scandal on some scapegoats.
In a July 15 editorial, Daily Trust criticised the minister and the federal government for keeping silent on the issue, warning that attempts to shield Mrs Adeosun from “sack and prosecution” will make the government’s “touted anti-corruption stance” to “fly out through the window”.
According to the newspaper, “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”.
In its Friday editorial, The Punch described as sad “that Nigeria is once again making herself a laughing stock before other nations. What everybody expects is that, by now, the government should have set the machinery in motion to carry out a thorough investigation into the entire sordid affair”.
The newspaper, agreed with many other commentators on what the government ought to have done “if the minister herself does not consider it fit to step down for her name to be cleared”. The Punch editors wrote that “it is the responsibility of the government to have asked her to do so”.
The Guardian, summarizes that, with this scandal, “decent Nigerians and friends of Nigeria elsewhere, lament the loss of a sense of shame and the increasing dearth of integrity in high places in this land”.
This sense of shame and outrage, the newspaper referred to, is captured in a number of social media posts dotting the online space.
A number of commentators are however posting to keep the issue alive, insisting that it should be addressed, rather than sweeping it under the carpet.
“Kemi Adeosun ought to speak or resign. Really. The silence is disgusting. Contrary comments to this post are disabled.” Tweeted famous blogger, Japeth Omojuwa on July 22.
Dipo Awojide, tweeting from the handle @OgbeniDipo suggested a resignation note for the minister.
‘“I thank President Buhari for the confidence in me and in appointing me to serve as Minister of Finance. Indeed, I have fallen short of what is expected as a public officer. I have tendered my resignation. I apologise to Mr President and all Nigerians.” – Kemi Adeosun
“In the last 3 weeks, the Ekiti election, with all its drama, has been won & lost; Nigeria Air, with all its debate, has been launched; the Senate President has been blocked in; and Legislators have defected and un-defected. That’s how long Kemi Adeosun and NYSC have been silent” wrote Joe Abah (DrJoeAbah) on Thursday.
On July 18, BudgIT co-founder, Oluseun Onigbinde, tweeted “After this Kemi Adeosun saga with no since word from Buhari or Aso Rock, please don’t bring the word “Integrity” near me. Anyone differentiating successive govts with Integrity is just a fraudster.”
Tweeting on the same day, Oluyemi Fasipe, using the handle, reminded his followers about the scandal and other burning issues:
“Can you people leave Banky W, and let’s talk about more serious issues……
1: Aunty Kemi Adeosun is yet to explain to us why she went to Oluwole to forge NYSC certificate.
2: Leah Sharibu is still not back
3: Boko Haram are now kidnapping soldiers 4: Herdsmen Killings.”
“So Kemi Adeosun is free to continue her work without bothering to answer the allegations of forgery against her… Yet we are fighting corruption” Tweeted Abdulmalik Mahdi, from the handle @MrAbutpires on Friday.
Just like on Tweeter, a number of Nigerian Facebook users also made posts drawing attention to the unaddressed scandal.#
“Ok now that we are done with Ekiti and World Cup shall we talk about Madam Finance Minister’s NYSC certificate,” wrote Hauwa M Abbas on July 17
“You can not be more Buhari than me, but his silence on Kemi AdeosunCertificate scandal is appaling,” a journalist, Abbas Yushau wrote on Saturday.
YZ Yau, a civil society figure, took on not only the minister and the government, but also Nigerian lawmakers for looking the other way.
“She has a sealed mouth. But even more surprising is our Senators who screened her have kept their own also sealed: What was it they chopped that they could not summon her to explain this NYSC palaver? Even as they decamped, they cannot say the word Kemi!” he wrote.