Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, did not participate in the mandatory one-year national youth service scheme. Instead, she forged an exemption certificate many years after graduation, Premium Times reports.
The one year service, organised by the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), is compulsory for all Nigerians who graduate from universities or equivalent institutions at less than 30 years of age.
In addition to being a requirement for government and private sector jobs in Nigeria, the enabling law prescribes punishment for anyone who absconds from the scheme or forges its certificates.
Eligible Nigerians who skipped the service are liable to be sentenced to 12 months imprisonment and/or N2,000 fine, according to Section 13 of the NYSC law.
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 as Mrs Adeosun has done.
Subsection 4 of the same section also criminalises giving false information or illegally obtaining the agency’s certificate. It provides for up to three-year jail term for such offenders.
Mrs Adeosun’s official credentials reportedly obtained by Premium Times show that the minister parades a purported NYSC exemption certificate, which was issued in September 2009, granting her exemption from the mandatory service on account of age.
Mrs Adeosun graduated from the Polytechnic of East London in 1989, at the age of 22. According to her curriculum vitae, Mrs Adeosun was born in March 1967.
The institution changed name to University of East London in 1992. Mrs Adeosun has her certificate issued in the new name.
Having graduated at 22, it is obligatory for Mrs Adeosun to participate in the one-year national service, for her to qualify for any job in Nigeria.
However, at the time of her graduation, the young Folakemi Oguntomoju, as she then was, did not return to Nigeria to serve her fatherland.
Upon graduation in 1989, the Applied Economics graduate pursued fast-paced career in the British public and private sectors.
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 told Premium Times.
Mrs Adeosun’s ‘certificate’ is dated September 9, 2009, and was purportedly signed by Yusuf Bomoi, a former director-general of the corps.
Officials said Mr. Bomoi stepped down from the NYSC in January 2009, and could not have signed any certicate for the corps eight months after. The retired brigadier general passed on in September 2017.
According to the online newspaper, following an investigation of Mrs Adeosun’s so-called NYSC certificate for months, it determined eventually that it is fake.
“This one is an Oluwole certificate,” a top official of the corps said after he was showed 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.
The NYSC leadership has declined to respond on the matter.
Oluyinka Akintunde, the spokesperson to Mrs Adeosun, who was briefed on the outcome of the investigation on her boss is yet to send a response to inquiries.