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Intrigues behind Adeosun’s fall


[FILE PHOTO] Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun. PHOTO: CNBC Africa

After months of intrigues and politicking over her presentation of a fake National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate, everything came to a climax yesterday with the final resignation of Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, from the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari.

A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said the President thanked the outgoing minister for her services to the country and wished her well in her future pursuits.
The statement added that the President also approved that the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, should oversee the Ministry of Finance with effect from yesterday.

Here is the full text of Adeosun’s resignation letter, dated September 14, 2018.

“His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria
State House, Aso Villa, Abuja.
“Dear Excellency, let me commence by thanking you profusely for the honour and privilege of serving under your inspirational leadership.

It has been a truly rewarding experience to learn from you and to observe at close quarters your integrity and sense of duty. 
“I have, today, become privy to the findings of the investigation into the allegation made in an online medium that the Certificate of Exemption from National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) that I had presented was not genuine.

This has come as a shock to me and I believe that in line with this administration’s focus on integrity, I must do the honourable thing and resign.
“Your Excellency, kindly permit me to outline some of the background to this matter.

I was born and raised in the United Kingdom, indeed my parental family home remains in London.

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 34 and when I relocated there was debate as to whether NYSC Law applied to me. 

“Upon enquiry as to my status relating to NYSC, 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. Until recent events, that remained my understanding. 
“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 NYSC, visited the premises, been privy to nor familiar with their operations, I had no reason to suspect that the certificate was anything, but genuine. 

“Indeed, I presented that 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.

“Be that as it may, as someone totally committed to a culture of probity and accountability, I have decided to resign with effect from Friday, September 14, 2018.

“Your Excellency, it has been an exceptional privilege to have served our nation under your leadership and to have played a role in steering our economy at a very challenging time.

“I am proud that Nigeria has brought discipline into its finances, has identified and is pursuing a path to long term sustainable growth that will unlock the potential in this great economy.

“Under your leadership, Nigeria was able to exit recession and has now started to lay the foundations for lasting growth and wealth creation. 

Repositioning this huge economy is not a short term task and there are no short cuts, indeed there are tough decisions still to be made but I have no doubt that your focus on infrastructural investment, revenue mobilisation and value for money in public expenditure will deliver growth, wealth and opportunity for all Nigerians. 
“I thank His Excellency, the Vice President and my colleagues in the Federal Executive Council for the huge pleasure and honour of working with them. 

I also thank most specially, the team in the ‘Finance Family’ of advisers and heads of agencies under the Ministry of Finance.

“Your Excellency, this group of committed Nigerians represents a range of backgrounds, ethnicities and ages.

They have worked well above and beyond the call of duty to support me in the tasks assigned.

“The diversity in my team and their ability to work cohesively to deliver reforms convinces me that Nigeria has the human capital required to succeed.
“Your Excellency, let me conclude by commending your patience and support, during the long search for the truth in this matter.

“ I thank you again for giving me the honour of serving under your leadership, it is a rare privilege, which I do not take for granted. 

As a Nigerian and committed progressive, I appreciate you for your dogged commitment to improving this nation.
“Please be assured, as always, of my highest regards and best wishes.”
-Kemi Adeosun (Mrs.)

After over three months of intense pressure from different quarters, Adeosun was allegedly forced to resign over the allegation forging her NYSC Discharge Certificate.

The confirmation of her resignation was late in coming last night, a development that threw the entire country into a frenzied suspense, following a boldface put up by the former minister’s close aides, who insisted there was no substance in the resignation story, which was already awash in the social media.

The Minister of State, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who is one of those being touted as her possible successor by the power brokers, visited Adeosun in the office, possibly for briefing, and stayed long till around 6:00pm before departing.

Meanwhile, Adeosun was still in her office till late last night when tired reporters, who had kept vigil to watch movements in and outside the ministry, were leaving, carrying out what an insider said was perfecting her handover notes.

“We can’t close now, madam said we must conclude work on the 45 VAIIDS files on her table before anyone can close,” a director was overheard telling one of his colleagues.

The Guardian’s independent finding revealed that Adeosun’s travails began after she reportedly stepped on some powerful toes in the corridor of powers in the course of her campaign against corruption. 

One of her close confidants, who spoke on condition of anonymity, listed some instances to include her disagreement over discrepancy in corruption recovery figures between the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the office of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), over which she queried the EFCC.

The confidant continued: “Other instances include her face-off with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), where a Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) investigation discovered large-scale discrepancy in revenue reporting to the Federation Account, where it was established that hundreds of billions of crude oil revenue was been with held by the corporation, leading to crises and inconclusiveness of FASC for almost two months without distribution of revenue.

“The development didn’t go down well with some top President’s men, some of who are Board members of the NNPC.

“Also, don’t forget the Oando Plc share scam saga, which she spearheaded, leading to the sacking of its Director General, Alhaji Mounir Gwazo, over his involvement in the multi-billion market infraction.

“These people have been plotting against her and they patiently bid their time for an opportunity to strike. Then came the NYSC certificate saga thing and they struck.”

The source revealed that the embattled minister opted to resign early in July when the allegation was blown open by online newspaper, Premium Times, but was persuaded against it by a serving Southwest state governor. 

Reacting to the resignation, Dr. Joe Abah, Director General, Public Sector Reforms, said: “We have just received, with sadness, news that Adeosun has resigned.

She is a talented, courageous woman who drove a lot of important reforms as Minister of Finance.

“However, the NYSC saga had made her position untenable and the situation was only going to go from bad to worse.”

It has emerged that the withdrawal of support by the governor led to her resignation.

A pointer that all was not well first appeared in the morning yesterday when the minister was conspicuously absent at West African Monetary Zone Conference, which began on Thursday in Abuja, where she was even elected as new chairperson. 

The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Isa Mouhmoud Dutse, represented her at the event and read her address at the occasion where the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, represented President Muhammadu Buhari, and called on countries under the ECOWAS sub-region to intensify efforts at achieving the single currency programme by 2020.

In his reaction, the Managing Director of Cowry Asset Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, said Adeosun’s resignation would not quake the market, because all her policies and contributions have already been factored into the market’s activities.

“Her successor is the one that would have impact. If the successor is weak, the market will take further hit, but if the successor comes with bright and positive ideas, the market will come alive.

“At this point, policies are motion, not halted and the expectations will be shifted to ‘what next’ after her resignation, which will determine the actual direction,” he said.

Chukwu also said the government may score some points with her exit by using the opportunity to end the many weeks of allegations and cold response to the matter.

A source close to the Presidency, who claimed knowledge of the matter, said the minister was caught in the web of high-wired politics, with a serving tax chief and longstanding “anointed godson” of the ruling party’s chieftain already penciled for her job.

According to the source, whether she resigns or not, she would be removed, especially as her own “godfather” had fallen out of favour with the same ruling party’s chieftain.

As at press time, the source said the resignation was real, saying: “I can confirm that the letter is being tidied up.

The woman is young and not near a semblance of a politician, so she cannot fight. It is a done deal.

“She is also resigning honourably to give way for Buhari’s second term ambition. She does not want to be a point of reference against him.”

Executive Director of Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Adetokunbo Mumuni, said the decision to resign may have been informed by the unrelenting pressure over the alleged the certificate scandal.

“The President should have asked her to resign before now, so that investigations on the matter can commence and thoroughly too.

If she has been forced to resign, it is a step in the right direction and it should not end there.

“The truth must be found, as to whether she actually forged the certificate and who did it for her.

In democracy, matters cannot just be left to hang for too long and Nigerians have the right to know the truth and that is our concern.”

He noted that going forward, resignation alone should not be a solution to the alleged forgeries, but must be investigated and whoever is found culpable must face the full weight of the law.

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