Her continued silence has resonated across the world and shockingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has remained quiet.
The Christian Holy Bible is a very interesting book in a lot of ways. Besides providing a moral compass for Christians all over the world, it stands out as one of the most life moulding and destiny influencing piece of literature for those who adhere to its ordinance. Some neutrals, most of them hermeneutical scholars, free from hypnotic fanaticism and mindless extremism have described the Holy Bible as the most complete book of knowledge. As a historical compendium, it furnishes the world with a creation account widely held to be sacrosanct. It also outlines to humanity the origin of disobedience and its consequences illustrated with the story of Adam and Eve.
According to the Holy Bible, Adam, the first man created by God surrendered to an entrapping procedure which started with the beguiling serpent, through to the perfidious Eve and which finally found in him a willing victim. After he ate the fruit which God had warned him not to eat, he realized his mistakes and hid himself. Indeed, he was smitten by guilt to the extent that he sought refuge in the green foliage which beautified the Garden of Eden.
Realizing that Adam, like a recalcitrant child, had done evil in the sight of his maker, God called him from the hallowed sanctuary of His celestial supremacy, “Adam, where are you?” Filled with guilt and self- reproach, Adam’s trepid reply was “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid, because I was naked, I hid myself”. Some hermeneutical scholars have inferred that Adams prompt response when God called him must have mitigated his punishment and had he kept quiet and ignored God, his punishment would have been more severe.
The above Biblical account, in many ways, reminds one of the kinds of situation which Nigeria’s finance minister Kemi Adeosun has found herself. Some weeks ago, reports emerged in the media that the finance minister is alleged to have forged her NYSC exemption certificate after she returned from the UK where she had acquired formal education. Since the report, Adeosun has ominously remained silent and Nigerians are asking her, where are you?
That the finance minister has chosen to keep quiet with such a grave allegation hanging on her neck is a collective slap on the faces of every Nigerian citizen. Although the Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to fight corruption, the silence on Kemi Adeosun queries the whole effort and supports the view that the fight against corruption is an illustration of integrity in parody. Why has the finance minister remained silent, going about her normal duties as if nothing happened?
Why, in good conscience has the NYSC leadership not said anything concerning the grave allegations surrounding the elevated office of Nigeria’s exchequer? Why, indeed, has the government not made any official statement on the matter? Is it possible that Nigerians, like certified victims of amnesia, will forget the matter and move on? It is possible that Kemi Adeosun is innocent of the allegations. It is also possible that she is guilty of the allegations. She cannot be both at the same time. She is either guilty or not guilty.
But the point is that she must, in line with the integrity signpost erected by the government, say something, address Nigerians and clear her name. If she does not do so, it follows that she is guilty as alleged and should as a matter of immediacy resign her position as Nigeria’s finance minister. If she does not address Nigerians or resign her position, then God, through Nigerians will continue to ask the question “Kemi Adeosun, where are you, did you forge your NYSC exemption certificate or not?”
The government’s fight against corruption should not be circumscribed to financial embezzlement. Forgery is a criminal offence which attracts some years in jail if the offender is proved to have forged any insignia of the Federal Government or any of its agencies. In the face of this allegation, Adeosun does not have any moral or ethical justification to occupy the office which she presently occupies. Not because she is guilty as alleged, but because there is an allegation on her neck and she has obdurately refused to make a comment on the matter daring Nigerians to do their worse.
Her continued silence has resonated across the world and shockingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has remained quiet. This casts aspersions on his administration’s stance on corruption. Or has forgery been expunged from the list of corrupt practices as enshrined in our constitution? Is it actually possible that Nigerians are helpless in the matter and cannot do anything other than to continue to ask Kemi Adeosun, where are you? Although it appears that Nigerians have a handful with survival in the face of a harsh economic atmosphere, although Nigerians are disillusioned with the spate of defections in the political space, although Nigerians are insulted with various acts of brigandage and daily desecration of the national assembly, the Adeosun allegation grates on the most sensitive part of our intelligence as the biggest executive insult of 2018. If someone has deceived Nigerians through forgery and went scot free, it should not justify or lead to the entrenchment of daring criminality. No nation makes progress in that way. It is in the interest of Adeosun to clear her name or resign. Otherwise, she would be digging her grave in Nigeria’s public service arena.
I am wondering what options Nigerians can take to make the government respond to this allegation surrounding the corridors of our finance establishment. What if ASUU goes on indefinite strike demanding that the government, NYSC, or Kemi Adeosun should make a statement? What if civil society groups, NUPENG, NLC, NUT, come together and grind proceedings in this country until the Adeosun’s matter is resolved? What if all Nigerian university students flood the streets and demand that Adeosun resigns or say something? Does NYSC still have credibility if an allegation is made concerning the forgery of their exemption certificate without a word from them?
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As long as Adeosun is still our finance minister under the APC led government, do we see this government as a bastion of corruption or integrity exemplified? I foresee a situation where, if this matter is not resolved, it will set a very dangerous precedent in Nigeria’s public service aviary. Gradually, forgery will become a norm in our social circles because we would have lost the moral right to condemn anyone involved in forgery. If this matter is not resolved, it will certainly reverberate in the future that such heinous allegation took place under the administration of a self-styled integrity crusader. The embarrassment in the international community will never be forgotten in a hurry and will go on to define the image of our country badly battered by fraudulent practices. Perhaps we should dust our buttocks, shake hands and collectively agree with Ayi Kwei Armah that The Beautyful Ones are Not Yet Born.
Adiele writes from Department of English, University of Lagos via [email protected]