By Danladi Abubakar
As a dispassionate observer of the travails of Mrs. Adeosun over the past weeks and based on the contents of her letter of resignation made public by the Presidency, one could not but be emotionally and psychologically sympathetic to her cause, despite her failings to understand how the Nigerian project is being ‘executed’ by those that have mortgaged the future of the country in their exploitative, uncompromising and predatory holds on power for decades.
Agreed, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun made a big mistake – as most of us do – by trusting some ‘associates’ to help her process her application at the NYSC headquarters. But what is certain is that based on her upbringing and over 30 years of orientation in an environment that is run purely on transparency, accountability, justice and forthright virtues, the former minister could not have intentionally, genuinely and deliberately elect to take the ignoble course of procuring a fake document.
Now, stretching this opinionated argument further, one feels that having trusted her ‘associates’ so much to help her process the NYSC exemption certificate, she could not have upon collection of the certificate from the NYSC office begin to verify whether the signature on the certificate was genuine or fake.
Let me illustrate here. To many who are chanting ‘crucify’ her, I doubt if any of them could not have fallen into the pit of betrayal as Oluwakemi did. The experiences at all levels of public governance in Nigeria show clearly that as applicants, the moment approvals are granted to our requests or certificates issued to us by any public institution in Nigeria, nobody gets pre-occupied with verifying that who actually signed the document is the genuine person.
For God sake, how can any applicant be concerned with the signature of who signed a document become the pre-occupation of a beneficiary who has gone through weeks or months of harrowing experiences to get any document? Let us be fair and just in our views on the Adeosun saga.
To me, she is primarily a victim of the ‘Nigerian factor’ which, for decades, has made Nigeria a big nation with clueless political leaders, who after travelling and seeing what obtains in saner climes, have failed to imbibe the culture of good governance and selfless service to their fatherland.. For instance, if the former minister were to apply for the same certificate in the UK or U.S, she can complete all the processes electronically and appear for collection personally only when the certificate is ready. That is where institutions and structures are put in place to drive public governance and accountability in leadership.
A cursory appraisal of Mrs. Adeosun’s brief sojourn in the nation’s landscape with a view to assessing how she fared reflected a woman who gave all and sacrificed so much to reserve the seething decay in the nation’s public finance system. In the short span of her tenure, Mrs. Adeosun has demonstrated an uncanny sense of patriotism, like her immediate predecessor, sense of discipline, and professional competences in the discharge her responsibilities.
She has, within the context of the political settings, consolidated on the achievements recorded by Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, in all facets of the nation’s fiscal and monetary policy regimes and by so doing, opened the economy up for improved private sector investments. This is even when the nation’s revenue earnings from the oil sector remained at the lowest ebb ever. Remarkably, some of the minister’s achievements which no political bad blood and hatred can rubbish in a hurry include the establishment of an Efficiency Unit (E-Unit) to monitor the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government (MDAs) for the purposes of checking leakages in the public finance system, the introduction of a Whistleblower Policy, the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS).
Others include, the insistence that all MDAs and revenue collecting agencies comply with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) rules, the financial bail-outs for states, initiative on continuous audit of MDAs, Payment of Inherited Pension Arrears, establishment of the Development Bank of Nigeria, the launching of the Asset Tracking and Management Project (ATM Project), establishment of the Road Trust Fund (RTF), introduction of the Fiscal Sustainability Plans and Budget Support Facility for States of the Federation, amongst others.
What these initiatives show is that Mrs. Adeosun, despite her relatively young age and reticence, exhibited the technocratic, professional skills required to deliver on her mandate. Some have said that Nigeria borrowed so much to keep the government running under her watch. The question is: Could the government have done otherwise in the face of dwindling resources and irrepressible desire to transform lives? The truth is that even the blind can feel the infrastructure projects of the government across geo-political zones as the war against graft in public sector garners traction and predators of the economy now groan helplessly in subdued tones.
Rather than joining the crowd calling for Mrs. Adeosun’s head and prosecution over an error of judgment that even Socrates could have made in the same debased political system, I elect to stand on the side of the few that feel she deserves commendations for sacrificing all she had to contribute to the nation’s development agenda. She has done exceedingly well under the President Buhari-led administration by serving diligently her fatherland in the last few years, and because she has not mortgaged her conscience in the midst of the raging anomie that has characterized the political landscape in recent months, Mrs. Adeosun deserves to be celebrated and not prosecuted!
The truth about the latest experiences of Mrs. Adeosun before she finally ‘took a bow’ and resigned her appointment a few days ago and which all of us should learn from is that in the Nigerian political system, no matter how conscientious you may be as a political leader or public servant, there will always be people who are seeking your downfall.
As Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala made it clear in her recent book ‘Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines’ which reflects her experiences in political leadership as two-time minister in the country, the Adeosun’s saga has validated, once again, her predecessor’s position that it is dangerous to fight corruption in Nigeria. In fact, it is deadly!
Let me say as I end this piece that Mrs. Adeosun left with many of us, who could interpret fairly the language of the polity, holding her in high esteem for leaving ‘a comfort zone’ to serve a fatherland that hardly rewards its genuine labourers. On a final note, I think it is also appropriate for me to make it clear also that all through her tenure in office or before then, I have neither met Mrs. Adeosun in person in life nor benefitted either in cash on in kind from all her initiatives.
Abubakaris resident in Zaria, Kaduna State