By Gideon Damkor –
Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has opened up on how she was able to move ahead after the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate saga.
Adeosun had been Commissioner of Finance in Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria from 2011 until November 2015 when she was appointed Finance Minister by President Muhammadu Buhari.
During her tenure as Finance Minister, Adeosun was also appointed as Chairman of the Board of Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank (AfreximBank).
Her grace-to-grass story began when in July 2018, one of Nigeria’s leading online news platforms, PREMIUMN TIMES, published a story in which it alleged that Kemi Adeosun had illegally obtained her NYSC exemption certificate to get into public office.
A day after the publications, NYSC’s Director of Press and Public relations Adeyemi Adenike, released a statement that confirmed that Adeosun legitimately submitted a request for an exemption certificate, but also stated that investigations were still ongoing to verify the approval of the exemption certificate.
One month later, Adeosun, on 14 September 2018,resigned as Minister of Finance in a written letter to the President due to the alleged NYSC Certificate forgery scandal
According to Adeosun, she wept every day without working for three months.
She spoke at the 10th anniversary of the Uncommon Woman Conference which was organized by the Jesus House Church, United Kingdom, saying that she felt like she was in a horrible pit.
She stated that everything about her life was at a standstill and she had to deal with shame, betrayal, disappointment, and humiliation.
Adeosun said: “That period of life was tough for me. I went to step into the shoes of someone like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. So, I was under fire from day one, it looked like things were not working. Then all of a sudden, the economy started to improve. It was like I was beginning to see the desired result. Then out of nowhere, the certificate scandal came. And before I knew it, everything turned upside down. And that was how the issue went viral.”
She stated that it was sad that she was even unable to talk about her side of the story and had to resign when she could no longer bear it.
She said: “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 visas obtained in my UK passport. When I finished school, there was no opportunity for dual citizenship; I either renounce my British citizenship or hold on to it and work here. I didn’t renounce mine. I finished school at 21 and started working at 22.
“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 inquiry 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 was 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 or 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. I sought legal advice and there was no problem I could get an exemption for the NYSC.
“I was so ashamed at that time because I was into teenagers’ mentoring and all of that. So, the experience negated the lessons I had taught my teenagers. I cried every day for three months; I didn’t do anything for anyone or myself for those months. I just cried, cried, and cried.
“I thought I would feel better when I got vindicated by the court but I still wasn’t happy. The court cleared my name three years later but it took another time of counseling and therapy before I felt better.
“It was thereafter I forged ahead with life and started my charity work.”
(With additional report by AFRICAN EXAMINER)