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The National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) has come under intense pressure since the publication of an exclusive story by PREMIUM TIMES exposing how finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, avoided the obligatory national service and fraudulently obtained an exemption certificate.
Mrs Adeosun, who graduated at 22 in 1989 from the University of East London, ought not to have been issued with a Certificate of Exemption of the service. The minister does not fall in the category of those entitled for exemption.
The story has generated outrage from Nigerians who asked the minister to resign from her post or be fired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Details published by this newspaper on Monday showed that the purported certificate was among the set of documents submitted by the minister for her appointment and screening in 2015.
NYSC management on Monday issued a rather vague press statement distancing itself from the certificate paraded by Mrs Adeosun, but at the same time claiming it was investigating its source. It confirmed the minister had applied for the certificate.
Mrs Adeosun is yet to respond to the issues raised, 72 hours after publication of the story.
Many Nigerians were unsatisfied by the NYSC’s response with some seeing it as a first step in giving the minister a dubious cover.
PREMIUM TIMES understands that the press statement was extracted off the NYSC after a high-level lobbying and pressure mounted on the director general of the service, Suleiman Kazaure.
Mr Kazaure, a brigadier general, was said to have come under severe pressure since the publication on Saturday with a governor believed to be Mrs Adeosun’s godfather repeatedly reaching out to the NYSC boss.
Also in the league to persuade the NYSC to “help the minister out” is a senior government minister. The minister is said to be working round the clock “to avert a PR disaster for the government”.
The two politicians are said to be playing the cards of national interest and the need to save the government from embarrassment to the director general.
Mr Kazaure is said to have resisted the initial pressure but was later cajoled to give a non-committal statement pending the presidency taking final position on the matter.
“If you read the NYSC statement it is non-committal at all, although they tactically disowned the document,” said a source familiar with the issues. “They can come out tomorrow and say even though the woman applied, no certificate was issued. But if the pressure is sustained they can own up to the flawed certificate.”
The atmosphere at the NYSC secretariat was charged throughout Monday with senior officials locked in winding meetings to find a solution to the scandal at hand.