Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun in NYSC Certificate Forgery Scandal
By Dipo Olowookere
These are not the best of times for Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Mrs Folakemi Adeosun, getting into the news for the wrong reasons in recent times.
The eloquent and brilliant Economist has been accused of forging her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate to get jobs in Nigeria, including the present one.
According to Premium Times, the former Commissioner for Finance in Ogun State did not participate in the mandatory one-year scheme even after graduating before the age of 30, when she is qualified for an exemption.
Mrs Adeosun graduated from the Polytechnic of East London in 1989, at the age of 22 as Folakemi Oguntomoju and in 1992, the institution changed its name to University of East London with her certificate issued in the new name.
According to her curriculum vitae, Mrs Adeosun was born in March 1967 and having graduated at 22, it was obligatory for Mrs Adeosun to participate in the one-year national service for her to qualify for any job in Nigeria.
Going by the NYSC law, section 13, eligible Nigerians who skipped the service are liable to be sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and/or N2,000 fine.
Section 13 (3) of the law also prescribes three-year jail term or option of N5,000 fine for anyone who contravenes provision of the law.
The report by Premium Times said the Finance Minister parades a purported NYSC exemption certificate, which was issued in September 2009, granting her exemption from the mandatory service on account of age.
Business Post gathered from the report that Mrs Adeosun’s ‘certificate’ is dated September 9, 2009, and was purportedly signed by the former director-general of NYSC, Mr Yusuf Bomoi.
But officials of the NYSC said Mr Bomoi stepped down from the corps in January 2009, and could not have signed any certificate for the agency eight months after. The retired brigadier general passed on in September 2017.
It is important to note that the NYSC certificate is a requirement for government and private sector jobs in Nigeria and the enabling law prescribes punishment for anyone who absconds from the scheme or forges its certificates.
Subsection 4 of Section 13 of the law criminalises giving false information or illegally obtaining the agency’s certificate. It provides for up to three-year jail term for such offenders.
According to Premium Times, upon graduation in 1989, Mrs Adeosun, who studied Applied Economics in the United Kingdom, did not return to Nigeria to serve her fatherland, but pursued fast-paced career in the British public and private sectors.
She first landed a job at British Telecoms, but left after a year to join Goodman Jones, an accounting and investment firm, as audit officer. She served there till 1993.
In 1994, Mrs Adeosun joined London Underground Company as Internal Audit Manager, before switching to Prism Consulting, a finance firm, where she worked between 1996 until 2000.
In 2000, Mrs Adeosun was hired by PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she worked for two years.
When she eventually returned to Nigeria in 2002, Mrs Adeosun still did not deem it necessary to participate in the NYSC scheme. She simply accepted a job offer at a private firm, Chapel Hill Denham.
However, ostensibly concerned that she might run into trouble for skipping the mandatory scheme, Mrs Adeosun, sometime in 2009, procured a fake exemption certificate.
The NYSC does not issue exemption certificate to anyone who, like the minister, graduates before turning 30, top officials of the scheme familiar with the matter said.
Using that fake certificate, Mrs Adeosun went on to clinch high-profile jobs at Quo Vadis Partnerships (managing director), Ogun State Government (commissioner for finance), and Federal Government of Nigeria (minister of finance).
By the provision of Section 12 of the NYSC Act, employers must demand NYSC certificates from prospective employees. The law also mandates employees to present only genuine certificates for that purpose.
Section 12 of the Act reads: “For the purposes of employment anywhere in the Federation and before employment, it shall be the duty of every prospective employer to demand and obtained 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.”
A lawyer, Sagir Gezawa, described jobs Mrs Adeosun has had in Nigeria as illegal.
“The combined effect of sections 12 and 13 of the NYSC Act 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.”
However, without demanding or verifying the veracity of the certificate presented by Mrs Adeosun, two Nigerian companies, the Ogun State Government and the Federal Government of Nigeria employed her at various times.
On becoming Governor of Ogun State in 2011, Mr Ibikunle Amosun nominated her into his cabinet. She proceeded to serve as commissioner of finance for four years.
In November 2015, Mrs Adeosun was sworn in as minister by President Muhammadu Buhari, and assigned the all-important finance ministry, after a supposed security and Senate screening.
The State Security Service, charged with vetting appointees to top government positions, failed to detect that her NYSC certificate was fake.
The Senate, which received the fake certificate as part of the documents Mrs Adeosun submitted for her confirmation hearing, detected the discrepancy, PREMIUM TIMES understands.
But it nonetheless proceeded to clear her for the top office. Those familiar with the matter said the leadership of the National Assembly used that information to blackmail and extort Mrs Adeosun for years.
Premium Times investigated Mrs Adeosun’s so-called NYSC certificate for months, determining eventually that it is fake.
“This one is an Oluwole certificate,” a top official of the corps said after we showed him a copy of the document. “We did not issue it and we could not have issued it.” Oluwole is a location in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, where fraudsters possess an amazing dexterity in the act of forging all kinds of documents.
Several current and former officials of the scheme told this paper that the NYSC would never issue an exemption certificate to anyone who graduated before age 30 and did not fall into the categories of persons exempted by the corps’ enabling Act.
By that law, there are four categories of Nigerians eligible for exemption certificates. The first are those who graduated after turning 30. The second are holders of national honours. The third are persons who served in the armed forces or the police for up to nine months. The last category are staff of intelligence agencies, or the armed forces.
Therefore, having graduated at 22, and with no record of national honours or service in the intelligence or armed forces, Mrs Adeosun is not qualified for exemption, officials said.
Yet, the so-called exemption certificate she holds gave age as the reason for her exemption.
“This is not the size of our exemption certificate,” another top official of the corps remarked when shown a copy of the minister’s ‘certificate’. “The calligraphy is also different”.
On another day, another staff questioned the genuineness of the ‘certificate’ based on the font of the serial number.
“Look at this, look at this other one, the numbering is different,” the staff said while comparing Mrs Adeosun’s certificate with a genuine one on file.
Mrs Adeosun’s name also failed to pop up during multiple checks of the exemption certificates registers kept by the corps, officials said.
One official, who perused the register recently, noted that the sequence of serial numbers for certificates issued in 2009 did not correspond to that in Mrs Adeosun’s purported certificate.
The signature on the ‘certificate’ is also suspect. As indicated earlier in this report, it was purportedly signed by an official who left the corps eight months before the document was made. One official described that claim as “barefaced lie and total impossibility”.
Premium Times reported Friday how the certificate scandal was turned into a tool for blackmail by a National Assembly cartel that used it to coerce the finance minister to keep releasing funds to the lawmaking arm.
Some federal lawmakers revealed to the paper that the discrepancy was detected by the Senate during the minister’s confirmation hearing. But rather than probe the issue, they turned it into a tool against Mrs Adeosun.
The report linked the certificate scandal to the minister’s excessive, even illegal, funding of the lawmakers, including recently funnelling a N10 billion largesse to that arm of government.
Although several of its officials informally cooperated with our reporters in the course of this investigation, the NYSC leadership declined to respond to our official correspondences.
The newspaper first sent a letter to Director-General Sule Kazaure (brigadier-general) requesting him to help determine the authenticity or otherwise of the minister’s ‘certificate’.
After it received no response for several weeks, a Freedom of Information request was sent on the matter. Weeks after, the journal is still waiting for response.
Insiders say authorities of the corps have been under severe pressure in the past weeks not to respond to inquiries on the matter.
A reporter of the newspaper also requested a reaction from Oluyinka Akintunde, the spokesperson to Mrs Adeosun, who was briefed on the outcome of the investigations. He was yet to send a response to the inquiry.
US Threatens Sanctions Over Voter Intimidation at Lagos Guber, Others
By Adedapo Adesanya
The United States government has condemned the disturbing acts of violent voter intimidation and suppression that took place during the governorship polls in Lagos and 27 states in Nigeria on Saturday, March 18.
The world power also said it would consider all available actions, including additional visa restrictions, on individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Nigeria.
In a statement on Tuesday, the US diplomatic mission in Nigeria said it observed the elections in Lagos and elsewhere and witnessed some of these incidents first-hand.
It condemned “The use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during, and after the gubernatorial election in Lagos,” which it said “was particularly concerning.”
“We commend all Nigerian political actors, religious and community leaders, youth, and citizens who have chosen to reject and speak out against such violence and inflammatory language, affirming Nigerians’ commitment to and respect for the democratic process.
“We call on Nigerian authorities to hold accountable and bring to justice any individuals found to have ordered or carried out efforts to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the election process.
“The United States likewise will consider all available actions, including additional visa restrictions, on individuals believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Nigeria.
“Following the February 25 national elections, the United States joined other international observers in urging the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to improve voting processes and technical elements that experienced flaws in that voting round.
“The March 18 elections appear to have had significant operational improvements, as polling stations generally opened on time and most results were visible on an electronic viewing platform in a timely manner,” the statement read.
The United States used the opportunity to call on those dissatisfied with the outcome of the exercise to go through established legal processes to reclaim their mandate.
“We further call for Nigeria’s people to work together as they participate in and continue to strengthen the country’s vibrant democracy,” the statement added.
Business Post reports that the candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the governorship election in Lagos, Mr Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivior, has promised to approach the court to challenge the exercise.
Nigeria Picks 95th Position in Global Happiness Ranking
By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria has been ranked as the 95th country out of 137 with the happiest population based on six variables, including GDP per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption.
The report, World Happiness Report 2023, showed that Nigeria scored 4.981 out of a possible 10.
The report was written by experts including John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard, Jeffrey D. Sachs, Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Lara B. Aknin, and Shun Wang.
In the piece, the experts noted that, “Once happiness is accepted as the goal of government, this has other profound effects on institutional practices. Health, especially mental health, assumes even more priority, as does the quality of work, family life, and community.”
Finland continues to occupy the top spot, for the sixth year in a row, with a score that is significantly ahead of all other countries.
Denmark remains in the 2nd spot, with a confidence region bounded by 2nd and 4th. Among the rest of the countries in the top twenty, the confidence regions for their ranks cover five to ten countries. Iceland is 3rd, and with its smaller sample size, it has a confidence region from 2nd to 7th. Israel is in 4th position, up five positions from last year, with a confidence range between 2nd and 8th.
The 5th through 8th positions were filled by the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. The top ten were rounded out by Luxembourg and New Zealand.
Austria and Australia follow in 11th and 12th positions, as last year, both within the likely range of 8th to 16th. They were followed by Canada, up two places from last year’s lowest-ever ranking.
The next four positions were filled by Ireland, the United States, Germany, and Belgium, all with ranks securely in the top twenty, as shown by the rank range. The rest of the top 20 included Czechia, the United Kingdom, and Lithuania, 18th to 20th.
The same countries tend to appear in the top twenty year after year, with 19 of this year’s top 20 also being there last year. The exception is Lithuania, which has steadily risen over the past six years, from 52nd in 2017 to 20th this year.
Throughout the rankings, except at the very top and the very bottom, the three-year average scores are close enough to one another that significant differences are found only between country pairs that are sometimes many positions apart in the rankings.
War-torn Afghanistan (137) and Lebanon (136) remained the two unhappiest countries, according to the survey.
Others at the bottom of the list were Zambia 128, Tanzania 129, Comoros 130, Malawi 131, Botswana 132, Congo Democratic Republic 133, Zimbabwe 134, and Sierra Leone 135.
The researchers said people’s evaluation of happiness had remained “remarkably resilient’’ in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, with global averages from 2020 to 2022 just as high as those in the pre-pandemic years of 2017 to 2019.
SLB Opens New Regional Office in Lagos
By Adedapo Adesanya
Global technology company, SLB (formerly known as Schlumberger), has officially opened its new West Africa regional office in Lagos, which the firm says embodies its bold sustainability roadmap through daylight harvesting, interactive and collaborative hotspots for employees, disability access, and other exciting features that bring forward the company’s evolved identity and culture.
SLB stated that the new West Africa office reflects this new identity and will optimize employee experience and create a sustainable business environment for all stakeholders.
Speaking at the office’s opening in Lagos, which coincided with the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of SLB’s presence in Nigeria, Mr Sopiribo Ideriah, managing director for SLB in West African countries, said, “As a technology leader, our unmatched market breadth, differentiated performance, and unique portfolio of products and service, has always positioned us for growth and advancement in the energy industry.”
“All of this is owed to our people, who are the backbone of our organization. I would like to thank all SLB staff – past and present – for their commitment and passion in delivering high-quality services to our customers.
“For seven decades, SLB has worked in Nigeria as a local company. In 1952, SLB logged Nigeria’s first commercial oil well in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State, and has since logged several other historic wells in the country.
“Our ability to continuously drive technology innovation has led to the development of new oilfield technologies that enhance our customers’ operational performance while maintaining the highest standards in HSE, ultimately delivering value to all our stakeholders.
“Investing in local socio-economic projects and developing local talent through our borderless career culture, we have significantly contributed to the capacity development of Nigeria and are confident that we will continue to do business in ways that benefit our people, society, and the country,” Mr Ideriah added.
Also speaking at the event, Mr Wallace Pescarini, president of the Offshore Atlantic Basin at SLB, said “I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to our various stakeholders for their support over the years, including our clients, suppliers, contractors, and other business partners.
“We are thrilled to live our purpose of creating amazing technology to unlock access to energy for the benefit of all and could not have achieved this without your trust. As we look to the future and its evolving energy landscape, we remain committed to creating value for our customers and key stakeholders in Nigeria.”
Recall that in October 2022, the company launched a new identity focusing on energy innovation and decarbonization to address the world’s energy needs today and to forge the road ahead for the energy transition.
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