A former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, says she was very ashamed and couldn’t work for over three months during the National Youth Service Corps certificate saga.
In 2018, an exclusive report by Premium Times revealed how Adeosun did not participate in the mandatory one-year national youth service scheme but rather forged an exemption certificate many years after graduation.
Three years after this, Taiwo Taiwo, a judge at the court in Abuja granted a declaration that Adeosun cannot be subjected to any penalty or forfeiture in relation to her occupation or assumption due to her NYSC certificate.
Reacting at the time, Adeosun said the ruling of the Federal High Court that she could serve without the certificate of the National Youth Service Corps has vindicated her.
However, speaking on her experience at the time, Adeosun said she cried for three months and was unable to do any work.
Speaking at the 10th anniversary of the Uncommon Woman Conference organised by the Jesus House Church, United Kingdom, Adeosun explained that she felt like she was in a horrible pit.
She said, “That period of life was tough for me. I went to step into the shoes of someone like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. So, I was under fire from day one, it looked like things were not working. Then all of a sudden, the economy started to improve. It was like I was beginning to see the desired result. Then out of nowhere, the certificate scandal came. And before I knew it, everything turned upside down. And that was how the issue went viral.”
Adeosun said it was sad that she was unable to tell her side of the story and had to resign when she could no longer bear it.
The former minister said, “I was born and raised in the United Kingdom; indeed, my parental family home remains in London. My visits to Nigeria up until the age of 34 were holidays, with visas obtained in my UK passport. When I finished school, there was no opportunity for dual citizenship; I either renounce my British citizenship or hold on to it and work here. I didn’t renounce mine. I finished school at 21 and started working at 22.
“I obtained my first Nigerian passport at the age of 34 and when I relocated, there was debate as to whether the NYSC law applied to me. Upon enquiry as to my status relating to the 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. Until recent events, that remained my understanding.
“On the basis of that advice and with the guidance and assistance of those I thought were trusted associates, the NYSC was approached for documentary proof of status. I then received the certificate in question. Having never worked in the NYSC, visited the premises, been privy to or familiar with their operations, I had no reason to suspect that the certificate was anything but genuine.
“Indeed, I presented that certificate at the 2011 Ogun State House of Assembly and in 2015 for the Department of State Services clearance as well as to the National Assembly for screening. I sought legal advice and there was no problem I could get an exemption for the NYSC.
“I was so ashamed at that time because I was into teenagers’ mentoring and all of that. So, the experience negated the lessons I had taught my teenagers. I cried every day for three months; I didn’t do anything for anyone or myself for those months. I just cried, cried, and cried.
“I thought I would feel better when I got vindicated by the court but I still wasn’t happy. The court cleared my name three years later but it took another time of counselling and therapy before I felt better.
“It was thereafter I forged ahead with life and started my charity work.”