Thinking aloud on the Adeosun-NYSC certificate scandal

The ousting of Mrs. Kemi Adeosun from her position as Nigeria’s finance minister, to serve as a deterrent to other people like her who may want to shortchange the system (by the way, the system did not fail her as some people say — rather it uncovered her!) will not deny Nigeria and Nigerians any capable hands that are required for the country to progress. The reason is that the largest concentration of people who possess the capacity and skills to move Nigeria forward is not found outside Nigeria. The largest camp where you can find capable Nigerians to move the country forward is Nigeria. I believe that there are more Nigerians in Nigeria who are more capable than Adeosun than there are outside Nigeria.

The NYSC was enacted for reasons of community service. It may need reviewing perhaps for other reasons, but that review, in my view, is not needed for reasons of making it convenient for Nigerians in the diaspora to indulge in it. Community service is a sacrifice and sacrifices are not meant to be convenient for people — whether they are diasporean or not. Some people lost their lives in the process of national service; the service was not a matter of convenience for these lost souls. Asking for the NYSC Act to be made in such a way that diasporean Nigerians can only come home and serve at a time convenient for them makes a joke of the NYSC as a corporate body. The NYSC Act cannot be more convenient — to both the diasporean and the home-based Nigerians — than it currently is. It is a simple law that stipulates that a person must serve if they obtained a university degree or equivalent qualification before attaining 30 years of age. To think that a person deserves an exemption after attaining 30 years of age simply because they were not ready to serve before 30 — despite having graduated before the said 30 — is akin to calling for the scrapping of the NYSC as a corporate body since they — whether diasporean or not — may not even find a convenient time for national service throughout their lives. This is especially possible if an opportunity to occupy high offices did not present itself to them — if we are to go by the case of Adeosun.

The Adeosun-NYSC scandal is not the same as President Muhammadu Buhari’s inability to produce his own certificate of secondary education. The first is a case of forgery — as Adeosun has no business holding an exemption certificate, real or forged, having graduated before 30 years of age — while the second is a case of loss or damage of document. As opposed to Adeosun’s case, the Nigerian Army, a branch that Buhari served, has not come out to declare that at any time during its existence, the criteria for enlisting into the officer cadre did not involve the presentation of a certificate of secondary education. The school Buhari attended has issued a statement of result as proof of his education. President Buhari also swore to an affidavit for the loss of his certificate. Thus, by law, Buhari has satisfied the criteria to run for office based on educational requirements. Therefore, if any person has a doubt on the genuineness of Buhari’s education at the moment, the onus is on them to show that he did not have secondary education — the onus is no longer on Buhari.

It is also disingenuous for Adeosun to claim, as contained in her letter of resignation, that she did not know that her certificate was forged, prior to the revelation by Premium Times. This cannot be true given that her faking of the certificate was used as an item for blackmail to lure her into paying money as bribe for that blackmail. This can be substantiated by a correlation with impossibility. It is safe to say that it is impossible for all 109 senators who had copies of Adeosun’s fake NYSC certificate, yet none of them could notice that she had no business holding an exemption given her age at the time she graduated from the university. I have seen a senate screening for potential ministers in the past where a senator rose up to say that he noticed an illogic in a candidate’s NYSC certificate serial number. He said that the previously screened person graduated before the person they were screening right before them and considering that NYSC certificate serial numbers are known to increase by the years, the serial number for the candidate being screened had reduced, relative to the person who graduated — and served — before him. Being aware that a person who obtained a degree before attaining 30 years must serve is very common knowledge, and I knew these years before I was ready to serve. I believe this information is so basic that it will be available on the NYSC website. That 109 senators from across Nigeria will not be aware of this common information and spot it on Adeosun at a time they were tasked with the responsibility to screen her is unimaginable to me. It is more logical for me to believe that those who spotted this red flag used it to enrich themselves through blackmail as reported by Premium Times.

There are other arguments that seek to defend Adeosun on the basis that she could still be exempted from the national service had she not be found to be in possession of a fake certificate which amounted to forgery. Proponents of this argument say that within the Act establishing NYSC, there is the possibility of exempting certain persons from national service even though those persons earned their degrees before attaining 30 years of age. If that Act exists, it is also safe to say that the Act is only applicable to other people who are at parity with the Adeosun circumstance. If anyone is to be exempted from national service under that category, then that person may have served in the Nigerian military or must have received the national honours of Nigeria. Adeosun neither served in the military nor was she a recipient of the national honours prior to her arrival to work in Nigeria. She needed to serve the nation, but even though she did not serve, she was found to be in possession of not only a certificate of exemption, but to make matters worse, a fake one.

September 17, 2018

Yola, Nigeria


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Mohammed Dahiru Aminu

Assistant Professor | Cranfield University alum | Chartered Geoscientist | Op-Eds Contributor