By Jude Atupulazi
That President Muhammed Buhari is using his war against corruption as a cardinal point of his administration is not news. That the administration has not wasted time in going after its opponents suspected of corrupt practices is also not something new. What bothers Nigerians however is what appears to be the administration’s hesitation to extend same treatment to those in their party, regardless of the weighty nature of any allegation against them. This has led many Nigerians to doubt the sincerity of the government’s anti-corruption war.
While the Buhari-led Federal Government has not convinced many Nigerians about its sincerity in fighting corruption, perhaps the recent incident involving the government’s Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, presents a golden opportunity for it to prove that the corruption war is not selective.
Recently the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), reportedly disowned the purported exemption certificate in possession of the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun.
The NYSC was reacting to the exclusive story published by PREMIUM TIMES, detailing how Mrs Adeosun skipped the mandatory national service and forged an exemption certificate of the service to cover for it.
The story has generated outrage from Nigerians who are demanding that the minister either resigns her appointment or be fired by the President.
Details published by this newspaper last Monday showed that the certificate was among the set of documents submitted by the minister for her appointment and screening in 2015.
This newspaper had taken a copy of the said certificate to the NYSC and requested the agency to determine its authenticity or otherwise. But in what appeared a veiled admission that the document did not emanate from it, the agency said it would investigate the origin of the certificate.
A statement by the NYSC’s director of public relations, Adenike Adeyemi, emailed to the same paper said the service ‘would investigate the origin of the purported Exemption Certificate in question”.
According to the statement, Mrs Adeosun applied for exemption. But the NYSC was silent on when the application was made and what decision was taken on it.
This seeming silence has only added to the noise the issue is generating, with some claiming that it was a deliberate ploy to buy time with a view to covering up the obvious national embarrassment, especially if the minister is eventually found culpable. For now, however, it seems she has a case to answer.
Our concern here is the silence of the Federal Government on the matter which is a very serious one. One would have expected a swift official statement from the presidency, assuring Nigerians that it would look into the matter. Such an assurance would have gone a long way in dousing the increasing belief that the Buhari Administration is bent on frustrating allegations against its own. That is the way it is done elsewhere. But here, such things are normally shrouded in secrecy.
Adeosun hasn’t been found guilty yet, but what all Nigerians will want to see is a conscious effort by the Federal Government to delve into the matter and unravel it, with appropriate sanctions being applied if necessary.
There should be no secret cows. The Federal Government should handle all issues concerning it in the same way it handles others. This will ensure that every Nigerian feels equal before the law, just as every Nigerian will feel that the government belongs to everyone and to no one as Buhari promised on his inauguration. We are waiting to see how this trending issue pans out.