These are sigh-inducing times for people who are resigned to the fact that even at the best of times, Nigeria finds a way to muck things up. If Kemi Adeosun, the Finance Minister, could be embroiled in a forgery scandal, then there is no redemption for the country anytime soon, at least as far it relates to the people who make important decisions for the rest us.
When the story broke over the weekend, it was easy to imagine many people scrambling around to verify the story. For people who don’t have access to officialdom, back-channel verification was out of the question.
They just had to give Premium Times the benefit of the doubt.
Kemi Adeosun used forged NYSC certificate to get juicy government jobs in Nigeria?!! That sounded like the stuff a very imaginative fiction writer would use to grab hold of your attention at the beginning of a novel while the rest of the story is unpeeled slowly and tantalizingly.
If the story is true, that should explain some frankly puzzling payment she made to the National Assembly earlier this year. These payments were extra-budgetary expenditure and should have been declared illegal.
The story revealed that the National Assembly knew about the forged certificate but confirmed her as a minister. But they have been using that fact to blackmail her ever since.
But because the payments, running into billions of naira, were made to a body charged with sanctioning her, it was kept mute. Even President Buhari didn’t make the position of the presidency clear on that issue.
Assuming the allegation in the Premium Times report is true, the ramifications are too horrible to comprehend fully.
First of all, forgery of any sort is a criminal offense in Nigeria. That is the basis of the case between the EFCC and INNOSON Motors. It shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to know that Kemi Adeosun would have to answer to a court.
What about the salaries and wages that accrued to her as a result of the forgery. Restitution is part of the criminal justice system. In other words, it is not enough to declare somebody guilty of a crime. The proceeds of that crime must be returned.
In this case, everything she gained from been a Commissioner in Ogun State and as Minister of Finance should be returned to the coffers of the respective entities.
Unfortunately, that never happens in Nigeria except in rare cases. This is one good fortune for the guilty in Nigeria. They get to enjoy their loot even if they are found guilty.
The exception to this is in high profile corruption cases where attempts are made to seize the assets and bank accounts of the indicted individuals.
By now, even hardcore supporters of the President know he is unlikely to do anything about this.
Someone said recently that the current cabinet is the most comfortable in the history of Nigeria. No single Minister is afraid of losing his or her job.
For some reason, Buhari has never felt the need it to wield the stick against an erring minister or top government appointee even in cases where there is clear and proven case of corruption.
In some cases, the ministers, aides, and head of MDA’s appointment d by him work at cross-purpose to his policies. But he does nothing against them.
The case of the SSS (aka DSS) versus Ibrahim Magu of the EFCC is still fresh in our collective memory. It was clear the head of the SSS, Lawal Daura, wasn’t comfortable with Magu as EFCC boss.
Twice, the SSS recommended to the Senate that Magu should not be confirmed as EFCC boss. The same agency, knowing the President wanted Magu there, sent a different report to him that made it look like they had no problem with Magu as EFCC boss.
The Senate didn’t need any encouragement not to confirm Magu. The head of the SSS is still there and nobody understands what is going on.
Several other government officials have gone behind the government to strike questionable deals. One would have thought that given his reputation, Buhari would waste no time dealing decisively with them.
Apparently, decisive and swift sanctions against erring officials are not part of Buhari’s DNA. That has birthed the notion that Buhari’s legendary integrity was an elaborate fiction. That he is as corrupt as the rest of them.
It is a strong bet that Kemi Adeosun is not worried about being sacked. Her strongest concern would be how to get out of this not smelling of something rotten.
Because, for somebody like her, image is everything. She would do anything to protect that.
Here is a simple suggestion on how to go about it. If the allegations are true, she should simply apologize to the nation and resign.
She shouldn’t worry about criminal charges. Nigerians are very forgiving.