Nigeria gets a new Finance Minister as certificate forgery forces one out

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has accepted the resignation of Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun, who resigned Friday following a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate scandal. He has appointed Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed in Adeosun’s stead.

The NYSC was set up by the Nigerian government to involve University and Polytechnic Graduates in nation building and the development of the country. Nigerian Graduates are ineligible for employment in governmental establishments (and most private establishments) until they have completed the mandatory one-year service or obtained the relevant exemptions. Adeosun was believed to have been exempted from the service until local news platform Premium Times revealed about 70 days ago, that the Minister’s exemption certificate was forged. This was followed by calls for her resignation or outright sack by the government but the presidency urged Nigerians to await the conclusion of investigations on the matter before an action is taken.

In a letter to the president, Adeosun wrote: “I have, today, become privy to the findings of the investigation into the allegation made in an online medium that the Certificate of Exemption from National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) that I had presented was not genuine. This has come as a shock to me and I believe that in line with this administration’s focus on integrity, I must do the honourable thing and resign.”

Adeosun, who was born in the United Kingdom explained that she only obtained her first Nigerian passport at the age of 34 when she relocated to Nigeria. Not sure whether the NYSC Law applied to her, she made enquiries. “Upon enquiry as to my status relating to NYSC, I was informed that due to my residency history and having exceeded the age of 30, I was exempted from the requirement to serve.”

“On the basis of that advice and with the guidance and assistance of those, I thought were trusted associates, NYSC were approached for documentary proof of status. I then received the certificate in question,” she wrote, stressing that she had no idea that the certificate was forged.

She wrote further: “I am proud that Nigeria has brought discipline into its finances, has identified and is pursuing a path to long term sustainable growth that will unlock the potential in this great economy.

“Under your leadership, Nigeria was able to exit recession and has now started to lay the foundations for lasting growth and wealth creation. Repositioning this huge economy is not a short term task and there are no short cuts, indeed there are tough decisions still to be made but I have no doubt that your focus on infrastructural investment, revenue mobilisation and value for money in public expenditure will deliver growth, wealth and opportunity for all Nigerians.”

A statement by Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina said the President has approved that the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, oversee the Ministry of Finance, effective immediately.

Ahmed holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Nigeria’s Ahmadu Bello University and an MBA from the Ogun State University.