Olisemeka Sony (With Premium Times Report)
The National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) was reportedly under intense pressure since the publication of an exclusive story by Premium Times exposing how finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, avoided the obligatory national service and fraudulently obtained an exemption certificate.
Adeosun was yet to respond to the issues trailing her NYSC certificate saga, 72 hours after publication of the story or announced her resignation despite widespread calls for her to quit or the government to sack or suspend her pending the outcome of investigation into the saga.
Mrs. Adeosun, who graduated at 22 in 1989 from the University of East London, ought not to have been issued with a Certificate of Exemption of the service. The minister does not fall in the category of those entitled for exemption.
The story has generated outrage from Nigerians who asked the minister to resign from her post or be fired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Details published by the newspaper on Monday showed that the purported certificate was among the set of documents submitted by the minister for her appointment and screening in 2015.
The NYSC management was forced to issue a terse statement on Monday issued distancing itself from the certificate paraded by Mrs Adeosun, albeit claiming that it was investigating its source. It, however, confirmed that the embattled minister applied for exemption certificate but that it would start investigation on the matter. The press statement, it was gathered, was extracted off the NYSC after a high-level lobbying and pressure mounted on the director general of the service, Suleiman Kazaure.
Expectedly, most Nigerians expressed dissatisfaction with the NYSC management’s tepid response to the saga, with many alleging there was behind-the-scene pressure for the institution to provide the minister a soft-landing on the saga.
There are also feelers from the NYSC headquarters that some intercessors who want the matter completely covered were suggesting misplacing the relevant NYSC register as a last resort. Mr Kazaure, a brigadier general, was said to have come under severe pressure since the publication on Saturday with a governor believed to be Mrs. Adeosun’s godfather repeatedly reaching out to the NYSC boss.
Also in the league to persuade the NYSC to “help the minister out” is a senior government minister. The minister is said to be working round the clock “to avert a PR disaster for the government”.
The two politicians are said to be playing the cards of national interest and the need to save the government from embarrassment.
Kazaure is said to have resisted the initial pressure but was later cajoled to give a non-committal statement pending the presidency taking final position on the matter. “If you read the NYSC statement it is non-committal at all, although they tactically disowned the document,” said a source familiar with the issues. “They can come out tomorrow and say even though the woman applied, no certificate was issued. But if the pressure is sustained they can own up to the flawed certificate.”
The atmosphere at the NYSC secretariat was charged throughout Monday with senior officials locked in winding meetings to find a solution to the scandal at hand.
Two senior staff members of the NYSC lamented their predicaments on Monday but neither of them would reveal details of what transpired in the series of meetings held at the headquarters of the service.
One of them confided that the day was hectic and horrible with clear demands for officials to find a way out for the minister. “We senior people in NYSC are now caught in the web of intrigues,” one official said. “We don’t know how it will end but we are praying to God to help us. It has not been easy with us at all.”