Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has been in the eye of the storm over her exemption certificate from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC). As a result, pressures have persisted calling for her response or immediate removal from office by President Muhammadu Buhari over forgery. From arguments in some quarters, the NYSC exemption certificate Adeosun presented wouldn’t have been genuinely issued at such a time she was below the stipulated age for exemption among other complex issues and the critics therefore tagged it fake, and demanded for her prosecution like others facing corruption charges. The federal government consequently, ordered a thorough investigation by the relevant bodies.
No doubt, the calls for investigations are a step in the right direction but for her distractions or removal from office, the timing is precariously wide of the mark. A finance minister that may rarely be sleeping at nights due to the sensitive nature of her job and the ministry that is the brainbox of the economy deserve no distraction as frivolous as the NYSC exemption issues. If the forgery is substantiated by the investigations, it is condemnable but inadequate to constitute distractions while she is in office. Professionally, the portfolio requires optimum concentration.
The alleged forgery ideally should have been dealt with during her screening by the Senate and not while engaged with sensitive responsibilities for the nation, hence, a pre-appointment issue. The essence of screening is to deal with such subtle issues prior to assigning portfolios and responsibilities to nominees. And irrefutably, the office of finance minister is all-encompassing that any distractions may cost the nation enormously, and therefore irrational to expect such an official to abandon her duties to be running after who signed or who didn’t sign the exemption certificate for her. Most likely, the uproars, asking Adeosun to divide her concentration over mere NYSC certificate are not abreast of challenges the portfolio demands or possibly want the economy crumbled at all costs.
The most absurd in the story is that the controversy wasn’t that she falsely claimed to have participated in the scheme, as she rightly admitted that she didn’t and the certificate equally indicated so but probably from a purported wrong source. Assuming the certification is related to her professional career or even as low as secondary school certificate, the hullabaloos will make good sense. Inarguably, the nation presently cannot afford to be ascribing such importance to trivial issues at the detriment of economic growth. Finance minister is not an office that can be subjected to partisanship or frolicsome issues. Again, it will be height of expensive jokes to fire Adeosun over mere NYSC exemption certification and notice later that an international organization hired her as witnessed in the past.
At this critical time of restructuring with its concomitant effects, what the populaces should focus attention on is the minister’s competence which is not in doubt. Adeosun is evidently sound and dependable. Unequivocally, she knows her onions. Nigerians should rather celebrate such a proficient figure, expediently fetched to fill the vacuum Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwealla left during her tenure which convincingly shows that Nigerian women are up and doing, and can truly, productively manage key responsibilities and compete with, if not surpass counterparts around the world.
By implications, whatever be the case should wait till after her office except where issues are related to abuse of office. Crimes do not have expiry dates. At the moment, paramount to the nation is people-oriented policies that can impact positively on the vulnerable masses languishing in penury. Government should pragmatically focus on issues that can eradicate poverty and protracted miseries. Any other things can wait except looting, diversion of public funds and insecurity. Gradually, we will get to other corrupt practices like NYSC certification, claiming attendance while absent even during lectures, acquiring driver’s licenses without practical training, admissions without JAMB’s outlined scores, among others that have thrived fantastically over the years in the country.
An occupant of a house on inferno doesn’t go after rats, says an adage. This is the appropriate illustration of the controversy. Citizens are restless, looking forward to see costs of living become affordable and health care facilities available particularly to the helpless ratios. Masses want to see radical job creations that can cater for over 100,000 graduates that pass out yearly from 152 accredited universities across the nation. People earnestly look forward to a highly stimulated and friendly economy that can boost small-and-medium-scale enterprises (SMEs). These should be the focal points of those in governments alongside oppositions, and not on frivolities or inconsequentialities.
From experience, political parties will always reign and fizzle away some day. National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) among others in their time brawled and reigned. Lastly, they all disappeared. But Nigeria remains. Hitherto, PDP reigned, cruised closely two decades but presently peeping from afar. Thus, politics must be friendly, impactful and chivalrous. Allotting enormous time and energy on mere NYSC exemption certificate; not even a discharge certificate which implies that the holder at least, reconnoitered new environs, attempted how to climb trees or mountains, or ran with luggage on the head, leaves much to be desired especially without putting the sensitive nature of the office in question into consideration for national interest.
For example, some years ago, the then President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton, had a messy episode, grievous and sufficient for his impeachment but Americans prudently, objectively disregarded it in their best interests and moved on. That is nationalism in reality. Frankly-speaking, the do-or-die politics in Nigeria is indeed worrisome and despicable. Thus, while opposition, scheming and politicking are encouraged as conventional norms for universal suffrage, the interest of the nation must essentially, always be given its rightful prominent position.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst.