The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, finally bowed to pressure by tendering her resignation letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.
Her resignation followed a prolonged silence over an allegation in a Premium Times report that she forged her National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said in a statement on Friday that Buhari had accepted the minister’s resignation letter.
According to the statement, the President has asked the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, to oversee the finance ministry as from Friday.
Adesina, who reproduced the erstwhile minister’s resignation letter in his statement, said the President thanked Adeosun for her services to the nation.
The three-paragraph statement read, “President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday accepted the resignation of the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun.
“The President thanked the minister for her services to the nation and wished her well in her future pursuits.
“The President also approved that the Minister of State Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, should oversee the Ministry of Finance with effect from today (Friday).”
Why I quit – ex-minister
In her resignation letter, the former minister noted that she was shocked by the outcome of the investigation done on the allegation suggesting that her NYSC certificate, which she had earlier tendered as Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State, was not genuine.
She said that in 2011, she tendered it before the Ogun State House of Assembly for screening as a commissioner and for clearance by the Department of State Services and was cleared.
She said she got screened again by the National Assembly when she tendered it for ministerial screening in 2015.
Adeosun said that not until the scandal broke out, she never knew the certificate was not genuine.
The minister said she was born and brought up in the United Kingdom and that until she was 34, she had only been visiting Nigeria with her UK passport on holidays.
According to her, she obtained her first Nigerian passport at the age of 34.
She said until recent events, her understanding of the applicability of the NYSC law to her was that due to her residency history and having exceeded the age of 30 when she relocated to Nigeria, she was exempted from the requirement to serve.
She said it was on the basis of that understanding and the advice of those she thought were “trusted associates” that the NYSC was approached and she received the exemption certificate in question.
Her letter read in part, “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 the National Youth Service Corps 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 34 were holidays, with visa 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 the NYSC law applied to me. Upon enquiry as to my status relating to the NYSC, I was informed that due to my residency history and having exceeded the age of 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, the NYSC were approached for documentary proof of status. I then received the certificate in question. Having never worked in the 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 the Department of State Services 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.”
She also thanked Buhari for his patience in finding the truth in the matter.
Adeosun stated, “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.”
Thanking the President for the opportunity to serve, she said, “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 foundation 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.”
Earlier confusion over her resignation
Earlier on Friday, there was confusion over her resignation as she was sighted working in her office at 12pm.
A report by the News Agency of Nigeria had stated that sources confirmed the resignation of the minister.
As of 5pm, the minister was still in the office, while journalists waited on the seventh floor of the ministry’s headquarters in a bid to interview her.
The confusion was worsened by her aides and the ministry officials, who said that he had not resigned.
However, at about some few minutes to 10pm, the Presidency confirmed in a statement that the minister had resigned.
Adeosun was appointed by Buhari in November 2015. Before her appointment, she worked as an Accounting Assistant at the British Telecom Company, London from 1989 to 1990 and Senior Audit Officer at Goodman Jones, London from 1996 to 2000.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University of East London and a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Financial Management from the University of London. She was also a Commissioner for Finance in Ogun between 2011 and 2015.
There were media reports in July 2018 that Adeosun did not participate in the one-year national youth service, but allegedly forged an exemption certificate several years after her graduation.
It was reported that the certificate, which was dated September 2009, was reportedly signed by an NYSC Director General, Yusuf Bomoi, who had left the scheme in January 2009.
PDP, SERAP, others demand prosecution
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party and two civil society organisations, the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, commended the resignation of the minister, noting however that such step must be followed by her invitation by the appropriate security agencies for investigation and prosecution, if found culpable.
The PDP said Adeosun’s resignation was even belated, asking why the President refused to fire the minister until she willingly resigned on her own volition after the media exposed her fake NYSC certificate.
The national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Friday, asked Nigerians not to be deceived by the resignation.
He said the resignation of the minister was not at the instance of either the President or his minister, but added that it was due to public pressure.
Secondus said, “The resignation is belated. Why did the President keep her all this while when the scandal broke out?
“Why didn’t he, I mean the President, asked that the woman be investigated and even suspended if he was serious about the fight against corruption?
“We are aware of some lawyers that mounted pressure on the Presidency before the woman was forced to resign. The forced resignation was because of the 2019 presidential election, which we all know the President will lose.
“But if the President is serious, he should have asked the Minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, to order the prosecution of the minister and all those that helped her to procure the fake NYSC discharge certificate.”
Secondus added that the much-touted war against corruption by the President was a ruse, asking why the President had refused to also order investigation into a fake West Africa Examination Certificate being allegedly paraded by another presidential appointee.
The SERAP Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said, “Adeosun was alleged to have forged an NYSC exemption certificate. What should have happened immediately was for her to come clean and let Nigerians know her position. Actually, that did not happen. What the Federal Government ought to have done was to take the job off her while she sorts out the certificate scandal.
“What transparency and accountability demand in a democracy is that whoever is alleged to have committed an offence should be investigated and taken to court.”
Also the CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said, “Her resignation is not enough. She should be handed over to the appropriate law enforcement agency for further investigation and necessary prosecution. This is because she could have committed forgery and lied on oath.
Adeosun was supposed to attend the West African Monetary Zone 2018 mid-year statutory meetings which held in Abuja on Friday but was absent.
She was represented at the meeting by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mahmoud Dutse.
The meeting which is being attended by Central Bank Governors under the West African Monetary Zone was to discuss the progress so far made by ECOWAS countries in preparation of the single currency regime.
One of our correspondents who was at the ministry observed that as of 9:16pm, the finance minister was still in her office.
It was learnt that she was tidying up her handover notes in preparation for her exit from the ministry.
Attempts to get comments from Adeosun were not successful as called sent to her mobile phone were not picked while a message sent to her had yet to be responded to as of 9:38pm.