It is now almost two weeks that our finance minister was accused of forging an NYSC exemption certificate, and the only official communication by the voluble information minister on behalf of the Federal Government, is that whatever the NYSC authority says is what the government says too. By the way, one hopes the anachronistic position of an information minister in the 21st century will soon be a thing of the past.
When the story broke, a colleague wagered in the office that nothing will happen and President Muhammadu Buhari will adopt his usual ostrich position burying his head in the sand and say nothing or do nothing. Thankfully, I’m not a betting person and so did not put money on the bet. But how long can we continue like this? Somehow, this is true to type; both from the president and the minister’s side. Remember a gentleman lawyer by name Okoi Obono-Obla, the chairman of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on Recovery of Property? Last month, a deputy registrar with the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) testified at a House of Representatives hearing that Mr. Obono-Obla parades a fake school certificate. And this was the result he used in gaining admission to University of Jos to study Law. He is still in office.
I guess the irony is lost on our president when he still went ahead to sign an executive order on forfeiture of properties allegedly acquired through corrupt practices with the inputs of someone parading fake result. To imagine again that Lai Mohammed, also a lawyer, will be harping on this order as a great step over the weekend while meeting with editors in Lagos, we just know that we are a bunch of jokers as a country. Consider for a while that the Secretary of Treasury in United States or Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Government of the United Kingdom and head of Her Majesty’s Treasury has been similarly accused, nobody will tell them that their positions are no longer tenable. So how does Mrs. KemiAdeosun represents Nigeria with this allegation hanging around her neck? What image does she project at international fora when she speaks or acts on behalf of the rest of us?
But this is not the first time our dear minister will be caught in dishonesty since she was appointed on November 11, 2015. Nearly a year after, she made that statement “recession is just a word” and also tweeted same on her twitter account. She denied the statement and later deleted the tweet, unsurprisingly, Nigerians shocked her by providing a video of where she made the statement. This column said then in a piece of September 5, 2016 https://www.thecable.ng/two-ministers-proposed-communication-tax : “This becomes more serious when we remember that the finance minister bears full responsibility for our economy at a level with the president at another level. How do you convince citizens that your word is your bond? What message do we communicate to foreigners when our minister finds it difficult to take responsibility for her actions?”
Possibly, Adeosun is displaying the condescension of an average person who deigned to come and work for Nigeria yet forgets that in her country of birth she would not have stayed a day longer after the story broke. But it’s the way we are here, we are bereft of standards and ethics that others in saner societies take for granted. How does she look at her aides and finance ministry staff in the eyes as she resume for work daily? Is it also true that some national assembly members have been blackmailing her because of this certificate forgery? That is more worrisome as only God knowshow many decisions she took solely because of such blackmail. To those defending Adeosun asking the rather absurd question whether this allegation prevents her from functioning effectively, the simple answer is yes, it does. Some of us believe our leaders lead at our pleasure and so deserve to show us a modicum of respect while serving and so the minimum demand is for our finance minister to walk away.
But, it is doubtful if this will ever happen. Either our president is blissfully unaware or still taking his time to read documents concerning the allegation since he has admitted to being a slow reader, whichever way, the finance minister is still presiding over our finances. So much for our president’s much vaunted integrity.
GOVERNOR IBIKUNLE AMOSUN’S INDISCRETION
On Friday, July 13, torrential rain wreaked havoc in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, to the extent that a bridge collapsed while some citizens lost their lives. It, however, took Governor Amosun almost 48 hours to visit the affected areas in company of his wife and his deputy. Sadly, without sparing some thought for the sobriety such moments deserved, Mr. Amosun dressed in a billowing white outfit with his trademark cap, to commiserate with people in the affected areas.
Most likely, the visit was an afterthought and that’s why he was dressed inappropriately. I remember interviewing the late fiery lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, in 2000 for a series on one year after the return of democratic rule. Fawehinmi, among many things he said in the interview, condemned the way our leaders dressed especially the opulence they’re usually suffused in. “You don’t see seriousness in our leaders, they seem too relaxed and they’re more interested in enjoying the perks of office,” the late senior advocate lamented. Those words are still relevant today.