Twenty-five days after PREMIUM TIMES exposed the finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, for procuring a forged National Youth Service Corps certificate, President Muhammadu Buhari has announced he is taking a 10-day holiday.
He is travelling abroad without acting on what is clearly Nigeria’s biggest scandal of the moment.
On Wednesday, the presidency said President Buhari informed the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives of his decision to observe the holiday.
“In compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, a letter has been transmitted to the President of the Senate, and the Speaker, House of Representatives to that effect,” presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said in a statement.
“While the President is on vacation, Vice President @ProfOsinbajo will be in acting capacity as President. President Buhari will be in London for the holiday.”
Mr Buhari was elected into office on his promise to tackle corruption.
He has also publicly vowed to punish any of his appointees found to be involved in corruption.
But he is now departing for vacation without acting on the calls by Nigerians from all walks of life for almost a month for him to take action on the forgery and blackmail allegations against one of his key ministers.
It remains unclear why the president has so far failed to act. Initially it was thought that he did not understand the issues.
But he has since received detailed briefings on the matter from several of his key appointees, presidency sources said.
Our sources said the president has however come under tremendous pressure from state governors who are desperate to get Mrs Adeosun to release the third tranche of the controversial Paris Club debt refunds.
“The governors believe that if Adeosun is removed, her replacement may not be favourably disposed to the payment,” one of our sources said.
“So they are telling the president that the plot against Adeosun is an opposition game, and that her removal might lead to the collapse of the economy, giving the opposition advantage as the general elections approach.”
Apart from President Buhari, other key federal officials have also kept sealed lips on the matter. Authorities of the National Youth Service Corps claimed they were investigating the matter but have failed to provide updates.
The Ministry of Youth and Sports also made a similar claim and then went quiet on the matter.
The office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation also wrote to the NYSC demanding information on the matter. It has since failed to update Nigerians on the feedback it received.
While the government has failed to act, foreign diplomats and representatives of bilateral agencies have continued to inundate PREMIUM TIMES with requests for additional information on the scandal.
“If this had happened in my country, the official involved would not have spent a minute more in office,” one western diplomat said, asking not to be named so his comment does not spark diplomatic row between his country and Nigeria. “It appears your country will continue to baffle the world for a long time.”
Mrs Adeosun skipped the mandatory national service for all Nigerians who graduated from universities or equivalent institutions at less than 30 years of age, a PREMIUM TIMES investigation showed.
The investigation also revealed that Mrs Adeosun presented a fake exemption certificate to cover her track.
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.