Barely 24 hours after she resigned her appointment as Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has travelled to London, apparently to cool off and map out the next phase of her life.
Sources revealed that the minister traveled on Friday night aboard British Airways via the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Earlier on Friday, Mrs Adeosun had worked at her office from 10:00 a.m. till 11:00 p.m.
She did not attend the 40th and mid-year Statutory Convergence Council meeting of Ministers of Finance and Governors of Central Banks of the West African Monitoring Zone, held in Abuja.
She asked the Permanent Secretary, Dr Mahmoud Isa Dutse, to represent her.
Her last day as a Finance Minister was very busy as she worked from morning till 11:00 p.m. before packing her belongings and held a prayer session with members of her staff, who wept as they prayed and thanked God for His grace over her as she piloted the affairs of the ministry for over three years.
Mrs Adeosun resigned her appointment following pressure from the public over her forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate. This is the first time a Federal Minister will quit office over an allegation.
Meanwhile, Nigerians have been reacting to the development, which came after more than 50 days of sustained pressure by a cross section of Nigerians, who were furious at the seeming double standard of the Federal Government in the handling of the matter.
The Peoples Democratic Party, which the leaders of the All Progressives Congress had for the past three and half years consistently painted as personification of corruption, in its reaction called for Mrs Adeosun’s immediate arrest and prosecution.
In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said Mrs Adeosun should be arrested and prosecuted for allegedly evading national service, in addition to other alleged impropriety and abuse of office as a minister. The opposition party said if not for the sustained public outcry by Nigerians for the former finance minister to resign, after media reports indicated that her National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate was fake, she would not have resigned.
The statement read in part: “Our investigations reveal that the Federal Government, which earlier made efforts to defend Mrs Adeosun, has already perfected a plot to help her to evade prosecution following fears that she could open up on the humongous corruption going on in the financial sector under the Buhari administration.
“We are also aware that President Buhari was not by any measure prepared to drop her from his cabinet, but for the demand by those responsible for her appointment, who protested her continued stay in office, although for their own selfish gains. A case of corruption fighting back!”
The opposition party also demanded for open inquest into the records of the Finance Ministry under Mrs Adeosun, so as to unravel alleged improprieties by “the Buhari Presidency cabal, including alleged diversion of oil proceeds, fraudulent oil subsidy deals, leading to high fuel price; depletion of our foreign reserves, embezzlement of funds returned by Switzerland and other huge sleazes in the ministry.”
The PDP added that President Buhari must be held responsible for all alleged infractions in the finance ministry under Mrs Adeosun, for failing to do due diligence before her appointment.
“Nigerians already know that the Presidency is a citadel of iniquity with inherent proficiency in stealing, forgery and manipulation of processes. This perhaps explains why President Buhari has not relieved his Special Assistant on Prosecution and Chairman of the Special Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, of his appointment in spite of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) confirmation that he forged his Secondary School Certificate.
“Is it not clear to all that the Buhari administration’s so-called anti-corruption war and purported integrity are mere orchestrations to hoodwink Nigerians and the international community, while Mr President oversees the most corrupt administration in the history of our nation?” the PDP queried.
However, the chairman of the Jigawa State Chapter of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Baffa Alhassan, said that the resignation of Mrs Adeosun was a clear indication that President Buhari is fighting corruption from within.
“If you compare the situation with the previous regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan, when his Petroleum Minister, Diezeni Allison-Madueke, was accused of corruption, but was shielded by the president, one can safely conclude that Nigeria is progressing under this administration. The resignation of finance minister is more than politics, because she is one of the favourites under this administration, but resigned probably due to pressure from within and outside the government.
“Other government officials accused of corruption or misconduct should follow the path of honour and resign. We don’t want to see the government defending its officials without conducting investigations and its findings made public. With the current development, Nigerian’s believe that President Buhari belongs to no everybody and belongs to nobody.”
On his part, the National Publicity Secretary of pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, the resignation of Mrs Adeosun was not based on the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration, but on personal morality.
Secretary General, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Anthony Sani, described the resignation of Mrs Adeosun as indicative that the fight against corruption is getting into popular consciousness of corrupt public officers. He urged more corrupt officials to do the same thing.
His word: “I am delighted with the resignation which borders on moral imperative. If public officers whose actions are called into question decide to resign on moral imperative, it would mean the fight against corruption is getting into popular consciousness. Public officers whose actions do not conform to moral mores do not have to wait for the appointing authority to remove them. They should resign when their content of character are called into question. That is the significance of common decency.
“I think Nigerians must know the differences between fight against material corruption and moral corruption, which borders on common decency. While the two are necessary for a decent society, it is important to note that the two cannot be fought effectively at the same time. I guess the regime has priority in the fight against corruption. Fight against moral corruption has to do with values which we all share that have collapsed. And it will take some time to enthrone.”
For the former Managing Director, Unity Bank Plc, Mr Rislanudeen Muhammad, Mrs Adeosun’s resignation came a little late considering the concomitant integrity deficit.
He also blamed the Federal Government for maintaining deafening silence on the matter.
He said: “The minister ought to have resigned much earlier as the whole matter boils down on integrity. The weight of the allegation ought to have attracted immediate response from the government.
“There won’t be any negative impact on the economy. Rather, her initial silence and inaction would have put the integrity of our country as per observance of rule of law to question. Authorities would have to put up a closure on the forgery issue for posterity.
Also commenting on the development, the first Nigerian Professor on the Capital Market and Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Prof Uche Uwaleke, explained that the resignation of Mrs Adeosun over allegations of a forged NYSC certificate bodes well for the image of the country and so therefore will be positive for the Nigerian economy.
“Coming shortly before the period President Buhari is expected to address the UN General Assembly, her decision to step aside will send the right signals to the international community. It goes without saying that the ministry over which she superintends is critical to the implementation of financial reforms and this administration’s anti-corruption fight.
“Therefore, for any measure of success to be recorded, the occupant of that office must be free from moral burden. In this regard, I commend her decision.”
In his comments on the development, the chairman, Northern Elders Forum, Prof Ango Abdullahi, agreed with Sani and Odumakin, and opined that Adeosun’s resignation was done on moral grounds and definitely not an indication of government commitment to the fight against corruption.
Ango said: “To me personally, there is nothing to consider in her resignation as justification of government commitment in fight against corruption as many described it. Rather the woman chose to resign because of the pressure from some Nigerians on her, following allegation of falsification of NYSC exemption certificate and her personal respect, for which she must be commended.”
The member representing Bali/Gassol Federal Constituency, Alhaji Garba Garbachede, portrayed Mrs Adeosun’s resignation as a milestone in the present administration’s war against corruption.
Garbachede said that the resignation of one of the top ministers on grounds of corruption is a testament to the fact that the president was determined to fight corruption irrespective of who is involved.
The representative said that the presidency had done its part and it was left for the relevant authorities to take up the matter and ensure that the law takes its full course.
“This government came to office with three cardinal objectives of fighting corruption, insecurity and restoring the economy, with the war against corruption as a top priority. The resignation of the minister of finance who is one of the top ministers in this government shows that this government is determined to fight corruption in all its forms and not minding who is involved.
“If she had remained in the government after the allegations against her, it would have been a slap on the face of the government. At first, the government set up a panel of inquiry that investigated the case and found out that the case against her was true. So, the only honourable thing for her to do was to resign and spare the government its name before she would have been forced to do so,” Garbachede said.
Hon. Yusuf Ayo Tajudeen, member, representing Kabba-Bunu/Ijumu Federal Constituency, also gave hard knocks to the government and dismissed the resignation of Mrs Adeosun as a ploy by the Buhari administration to deceive unsuspecting Nigerians ahead of the 2019 elections.
He said: “There is nothing serious or new about the development. It is just a ploy to deceive unsuspecting public. It is all toward 2019. She was given enough time to prepare her exit. The Presidency has not made a statement about the scandal till date. Don’t forget that she supervised the unprecedented borrowing of about N13 trillion in three years.”
In his reaction, Peter Esele, former president of Trade Union Congress, said that if anybody should take credit for the development, it is the media.
“No matter the circumstance, the minister did what she had to do. There are equally more people in government today that have worse integrity issues. The security agencies should go the whole hog. Whether this is a victory for anti-corruption, that is subject for another day. If anyone must take credit it’s the media.”
Agreeing with Esele, another human rights activist, Otive Igbuzor, said it’s a victory for investigative journalism.
“The resignation demonstrates the power of investigative journalism and citizens voice,” Igbuzor said.
The Secretary General, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr Kunle Olajide, commended Mrs Adeosun for resigning her position as minister of finance based on issues that surrounded the exemption certificate of the NYSC, which she presented for screening prior to her appointment.
“We are proud of her achievements in office because she assumed duty at a difficult time in the history of the country. She steered Nigeria out of recession when many did not give her a chance to do so. YCE commends her courage to resign honourably when she discovered that her paper was not genuine.
“But some people are behind this, the people that have been hurt by certain decisions she has had to take. For example, exposing the rot in the NNPC, and by so doing, she stepped on big toes. They never wanted any opportunity to spare her.
“They capitalized on this opportunity that she has to go with her outstanding performance, and politics of godfatherism. As I was reliably informed, perhaps a godfather from the South West, is considering sending somebody to replace her because she has fallen apart with him, perhaps ‘the godfather of Adeosun. And that is why they all conspired to remove her. But it has to do with the politics of 2019.
“I recall that the same certificate was presented to Ogun State legislature that cleared her to become Commissioner for Finance. She served as commissioner for four years. The same certificate was cleared by the Senate to become a minister. I am sure the certificate must have been forwarded to the Directorate of State Security Service and so on. She was cleared. So, we can see institutional failures in this.
“In my opinion, if she had meant to be fraudulent, she would have used her positions, either as Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State or as a Minister of Finance to perfect her inadequacy and obtain a genuine certificate. If she was aware that her paper was fake, she had held enough high profile positions in this country, which she would have used to regularise her NYSC.
“As Minister of Finance in Nigeria for over three years, where the budget of NYSC is signed regularly, if she was fraudulent, she would have used her office to regularise it. She trusted people to a fault. So, for me, I am, not eulogising any anti-corruption war. It is all about 2019 politics.”