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Adeosun’s Resignation: Frills, Thrills And Questions

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The resignation of the estranged Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, last Friday, has expectedly raised a lot of dust in Nigeria’s polity. So much have been said, so many inferences, insinuations and accusations, some of which could pass-on as selfishly motivated.
Beyond this, however, the issue of a government official resigning from office as a result of matters relating to malfeasance is to a large extent alien to Nigeria. That the official in question is the Minister of Finance, who, by Nigerian standard, must be the “right-hand” person of the Chief Executive, in this case Mr. President, makes it the more too good to be true. This is because the President, by Nigerian standard, has enough powers to make his wish come true.
Among the numerous inferences, insinuations and accusations, a couple stands out, both in the context of who made them, as well as the manifest and latent contents therein, especially in the light of what genuinely concerned Nigerians seek in those who lead them.
There were calls for Adeosun’s prosecution from all corners on charges of forgery in accordance with the dictates of the NYSC Act. Expectedly, top of the calls came from people who are pro Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP), the key opposition political party.
Contrarily, to Professor Itse Sagay, Chairman of Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), the Minister should not be sacked because ‘she’s damn good’.
“There is nothing in this world that will make me remove such a woman (if he was President) from the government. The PDP can weep from now until there is no tear in their body; she is going to be there. We cannot afford to lose that woman.
“Who cares about youth service? I don’t bloody care whether she did youth service or not. It’s irrelevant as far as I am concerned”, Professor Sagay was quoted by “Pulse”, an online newspaper on the 10th of August, 2018.
In her resignation letter to the President, Adeosun explained that she did not know and was not in a position to decipher the authenticity of the NYSC certificate issued her haven been born and bred in Britain till she was 34 years, based on the findings of Premium Times.
According to her, upon enquiry as to my status relating to 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, NYSC were approached for documentary proof of status. I then received the certificate in question. Having never worked in 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 Directorate of State Services (DSS) 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, 14th September, 2018,” she said.
Considering that what genuinely concerned Nigerians feel about the whole saga is hinged on the stance of the incumbent administration on corruption, the attention given the issue is understandable and seen to be guided by two salient questions: How did we get here? What is the way forward?
The whole issue started when, in July, Premium Times, an online news medium, broke the news that the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, “did not participate in the mandatory one-year national youth service scheme. Instead, she forged an exemption certificate years after graduation”.
For clarity sake, the year-long service is organized by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), and is made compulsory for all Nigerians who graduate from universities, or equivalent institutions before attaining 30 years of age. It is a key requirement for jobs in Nigeria, both in the public and private sectors.
Consequently, there is an enabling law to enforce it, which not only prescribes punishment for anyone who absconds from the scheme, but also forges its certificate.
The implication is that Nigerians who skip the service will not be employed in Nigeria, and will be liable to 12 months prison sentence and/or #2,000 fines, in accordance with Section 13 of the NYSC law. Also, Section 13(3) of the law prescribes 3-year jail term or an option of #5,000 fines for anyone who contravenes provisions of the law as Adeosun did.
Section 13(4) of the law also criminalises giving false information, or illegally obtaining the agency’s certificate and provides for 3-year jail term for such offenders.
The crux of the matter, as revealed by Premium Times, is that the estranged Finance Minister graduated at 22 years from the “Polytechnic of East London” in 1989, but did not come back home to participate in the one-year service, even after returning to Nigeria in 2002. She rather accepted a job offer at a private firm, “Chapel Hill Denham”. Moreover, her certificate bears “University of East London”, the name the institution change to in 1992
She finally got an “Exemption Letter” from the NYSC in 2009, dated September 9 precisely, and purportedly signed by Yusuf Bomoi, a former Director-General of the NYSC.
According to Premium Times, officials of NYSC said the retired Brigadier General, who died in September 2017, could not have signed any certificate for the corps eight months after his retirement in January 2009.
Using the purported fake NYSC certificate, Mrs. Adeosun worked for two private Nigerian companies and was appointed Commissioner by the Ogun State Government before becoming the Finance Minister.
Section 12 of the NYSC Act states that: “For the purposes of employment anywhere in the federation and before employment, it shall be the duty of every prospective employer to demand and obtain from any person who claims to have obtained his First Degree at the end of the academic year 1973-74 or, as the case may be, at the end of any subsequent academic year the following:-
(a) a copy of the Certificate of National Service of such person issued pursuant to section 11 of this Decree (b) a copy of any exemption certificate issued to such person pursuant to section 17 of this Decree (c) such other particulars relevant there to as may be prescribed by or under this Decree.”
The import of the above is that it is illegal to hire a person who graduated but failed to make himself or herself available to serve, or falsify any document to the effect that he or she has served or exempted from serving. Herein lays the bone of contention.
What this means in essence is that while Mrs Adeosun’s qualification and capability is not in doubt, she and her employees in Nigeria are guilty of illegality. But, as has become normal in Nigerian politics, the issue at stake was given various interpretations, in the same way her resignation last Friday was.
Taken from the context of President Mohammadu Buhari’s fight against corruption, this issue is one which for a long time will be weighed by the standard set in tackling issues relating to corruption.
It will be recalled that on assumption of office in 2015, President Buhari was quoted by various media to have zero tolerance for corruption. According to him, “Corruption is a hydra-headed monster and a cankerworm that undermines the fabric of all societies. It does not differentiate between developed and developing countries. It constitutes a serious threat to good governance, rule of law, peace and security, as well as development programmes aimed at tackling poverty and economic backwardness,” hence “it must be fought on all fronts”.
The key question that readily begs for answer is whether the law in Nigeria is a respecter of person. If not, as far as the NYSC Act is concerned, the two companies, Ogun State Government and the Federal Government that hired Adeosun’s services should share in the illegality of the issue. It is therefore not enough for Adesoun to just resign, as honourable as such action may be, even as it was belated in her case.
Anything less than bringing all the parties involved in the illegality will not only put a huge question in the President Buhari’s popular saying that he “stands for nobody, and for everybody”, but will also confirm what many Nigerians feel, that the declaration is a sham.
Daily Trust newspaper summarised this in its August 28, 2018 edition when it stated: “Although personal integrity, self-respect and respect for the law are no longer a requirement for high office in Nigeria, the truth is that Adeosun’s position is untenable. The excuse that the Exemption Certificate was obtained on her behalf simply doesn’t hold water. The scandal is a stain on the reputation of an administration which came to office brandishing integrity”.
The implication is that everybody involved in this high level forgery, from the erstwhile Minister, to those she stated as “trusted associates” and whoever has employed her, has a question to answer because, one way or another, they have desecrated the Rule of Law in Nigeria.

 

Soibi Max-Alalibo

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End Poverty, Okowa Urges Political Appointees

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Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has urged political appointees to be repository of ideas that will end poverty and social vices in the country.
The governor stated this yesterday, while inaugurating eight newly appointed Special Advisers at Government House, Asaba.
He noted that the times were difficult for Nigerians and that this was not the time for them to be lazy in their duties.
Okowa urged political appointees to commit themselves to more work to revive the economy and create opportunities for the younger generation.
He decried the high rate of youth unemployment which, he said, had driven many into self-help, leading to the current social vices in the country.
The governor said that his administration had created jobs through various empowerment programmes, which had greatly impacted many, with its great multiplier effect.
“Available records indicate that we have so far trained and resourced over 100,000 persons to become successful entrepreneurs.
“Yet, our cities and communities continue to brim with many youths who have yet to find succor, while some, regrettably, have chosen the path of infamy by embracing underhand methods to personal success that now pose danger to the rest of us.
“The signs are ominous and we cannot afford to play the ostrich or even be deluded into thinking that all is well. All is not well,’’ he said.
Okowa urged leaders to work with the consciousness that leadership was service.
“Service to the people for whom we hold our positions in trust. Thus, it is incumbent on appointees to devise means and methods of discharging their callings and responsibilities.
“Leaders and political appointees, at whatever level, should be repository of ideas that will proffer solutions to the problems of unemployment, poverty, anti-social vices, suspicion and distrust that breed inter-ethnic feuds in our communities,’’ he said.
 The governor stressed the urgent need for mindset reorientation among the people.
While congratulating the appointees, Okowa urged them to consider it their duties to connect with their communities and engage in regular advocacy that would remold the youth and set them on the right path.
“Where there is a will, there must be a way.
“This administration is of the belief that the stability, peaceful coexistence and prosperity of the state depend on ability to run an all-inclusive government, powered by men and women of competence, capacity and character.
“Hence the new Special Advisers are additional key resources in our governance team, painstakingly assembled to be architects and builders of a stronger Delta.
Responding on behalf of his colleagues, Mr Johnson Erijo, thanked God for the opportunity given them to serve the state.
He expressed appreciation to the governor for finding them worthy of the appointment, while pledging to work and sustain the Okowa-led administration’s agenda of service of the people.
The Tide  reports that the new Special Advisers are: Messrs Ignatius Ziakegha, Matthew Tsekiri, Chukwudi  Dafe,  Martins Okonta,  Dan Yingi, Ernest Ogwuezzy,  Johnson Erijo and Edward Ekpoko.
The Tide also reports that the appointment brings the number of special advisers in government to 16, following the devolution of the State Executive Council on May 18.
Meanwhile, the Delta House of Assembly has screened and confirmed additional 11 nominees as Commissioners in the state.
Those confirmed are Prof. Patrick Muoboghare, former Commissioner for Higher Education; Mr Chika Ossai, former Commissioner for Trade and Investment and Mr Basil Ganagana, former Commissioner for Energy.
Also confirmed is Mr Emmanuel Amgbaduba, former Commissioner for Oil and Gas. The others are Dr Mordi Ononye, former Commissioner for Health; Mr Ovie Oghoore; Mrs Bridget Anyafulu; Mr Solomon Golley; Mr Isaiah Bozimo; Mr Henry Dakota; and Mrs Jennifer Anderson.
The motion for the confirmation of the nominees was unanimously adopted yesterday, by the Assembly when the Speaker, Chief Sheriff Oborevwori put it to a voice vote and seconded by the Minority Leader, Mr Innocent Anidi.
The Tide reports that Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa on July 1, sworn in 18 confirmed nominees as commissioners.
The governor dissolved the state Executive Council on May 18.

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2023: Group Insists On S’ South Presidency

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A non-partisan advocacy group, South-South Presidency 2023 (SSP2023), has given reasons for insisting on the return of power to the zone in 2023.
The group, which ended its three-day delegates conference in Calabar, said there was need for a President of the South-South extraction to complete the zone’s tenure of eight years since it was truncated by massive gang up and that a South-South Presidency would stabilise the Nigerian polity.
In a 10-point communique signed by the National Protem Chairman of the group, Chief Diekivie Ikiogha, the Cross River State coordinator, Hon Ekpenyong Eyamba and others, the group said the South – South was blessed with competent and qualified human resource to take the country to another height and so should be given a chance.
They observed with nostalgia the deplorable state of the Calabar-Itu road and requested that the Federal Government should urgently fix it.
The group also frowned at what they described as the continuous intimidation, blackmail and harassment of politicians of South – South extraction.
The three-day conference climaxed with a visit to the Chairman of the State Council of Chiefs, His Royal Majesty Etinyin Etim Okon Edet at the Council of Chiefs Chambers.
At the Chamber, Chief Ikiogha called on the traditional institution to support the agitation of South – South people to produce the next president that would do four more years to complete the zone’s turn.
“By this arithmetic, South will do 18 years and when it goes to the north they will do eight years to add up to their tenure of 10 years which will be completed by President
“The South – South has an already constitutional four years which its ex president, Goodluck Jonathan can readily fit in,” he stated.
In his response, HRM Etim Okon Edet , who doubles as Paramount Ruler of Bakassi Local Government Area, said there was nothing wrong with a South – South producing the next president, saying the former president Goodluck Jonathan would be best fit to complete his tenure but feared whether the Bayelsa-born leader would be willing to throw his hat into the ring.
The Monarch said, “Yes, he is best fit to go and complete the four years remaining for South South regardless of any party. I will take the message to His Excellency, Governor Ben Ayade for his opinion.”
Among delegates who attended the Conference were Dr Princewill .W. Igbagara (Bayelsa), Engr. Ini Charles Udonwa (Akwa Ibom), Dr Didi Opiuyo (Rivers), High Chief (Major) A.O.Oputa (Bayelsa), Hon. Barr. Oyemah-Iwe Jahswill (Delta), Dr. Uwamose Amadasun (Edo), and Comrade Francis Etang of Cross River state , among others.

By: Friday Nwagbara, Calabar

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INEC Commences Physical CVR In Rivers

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State has commenced the physical aspect of the Continuous Voter’s Registration (CVR) at the state office and in the local government offices.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Head of Department, Voter Education and Publicity, Mark Usulor and made available to The Tide last Monday, July 26, 2021.
The statement however, regretted that due to the blockade on a stretch of the East-West Road by some persons, reportedly protesting about the poor state of the road yesterday, movement had been impeded along the route.
{As a result, some of our personnel and materials have been unable to arrive some of the local government offices of INEC to commence the exercise”, he said.
He listed the affected local government areas as follows: Andoni; Bonny; Eleme; Gokana; Khana; Ogu/Bolo; Okrika; Opobo/Nkoro and Tai.
“INEC Rivers State wishes to assure potential registrants in such local government areas that the exercise will commence in their locations later in the day and as soon as the situation permits.
“It also hopes that registrants in the affected areas avail themselves the opportunity to key into the physical Continuous Voters’ Registration as soon as normalcy returns back to the area.
It is worthy to note that INEC in line with keeping to its promises to ensure no one of age is disenfranchised introduced the CVR for all as well as those who wishes to change their voters’ card due to their present location as such it is pertinent for those concerned to take full advantage of this window of opportunity”, he added.

By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana

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