In defense of Kemi Adeosun against those trying to destroy and shame her – By Simon Ateba, Washington DC

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Updated: March 7, 2021

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I have seen Kemi Adeosun, the Nigerian Minister of Finance, go to war here in the United States, and come out shining like a Nigerian star, as she stood up to the international community again and again, and demanded accountability from multinationals not paying taxes or foreign governments claiming to be helping African nations fight corruption, but refusing to repatriate stolen assets.

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In these international gatherings, I have seen many African leaders who could not even express themselves, and seeing Kemi Adeosun articulate Nigerian and African policies in a smart and intelligent way, made me proud of her, even though I have disagreed with her many times.

To those in attendance, many of them whites and westerners, she was just another stupid black or Nigerian woman invited to say a few things, but each time she finished talking, there was an unsettling calm in the room. The shock was palpable as she delivered her message with her British accent where she studied up to the highest level.

For those who do not live in the United States, or those who live here but do not have the level of access that I have as an accredited journalist, seeing her perform in front of thousands of people watching, and seeing her represent and defend Nigeria, made me proud of her, even though, I have had my little clashes with her.

Believe me, if you were a Nigerian, an African, a woman or a black person in those gatherings, you would also be proud of her.

On several occasions at the World Bank/IMF Springs and Annual Meetings in Washington DC, I have seen her sell Nigeria to investors, plead for debt reduction, ask multinationals like Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and others to pay taxes in Nigeria and in Africa.

I have also seen her explain why she was desperately going after tax evaders, and inform the world about progress being made in her drive to recover stolen assets and get Nigeria’s borrowing appetite within reasonable limits.

I may not dwell too much on her achievements. But there are many. I will name a few to refresh the minds of those ejaculating over an NYSC certificate still under investigation.

One of her biggest achievements is the landmark whistle-blower policy. Under the policy, the Federal Government of Nigeria has recovered N7.8 billion, US$378 million and GBP27,800.

In May 2018, the Government paid N439,276,099.86 to about 14 whistleblowers who gave specific tips on tax evasion.

The policy came about as a way of encouraging public participation in the fight against corruption. The Minister introduced the landmark whistle-blower policy in December 2016. The policy is designed to support the fight against graft by exposing financial crimes and rewarding credible informants of such malfeasance.

Working through PICA, the Ministry has received 8,373 communications as a result of the whistle-blower policy on contract inflation, ghost workers, illegal recruitment and misappropriation of funds.

Out of the total communications, 1,231 are whistleblowing tips. The Ministry has undertaken 791 investigations and completed 534 of those investigations. Ten are presently under prosecution and four convictions have been secured, her spokesman said in a well crafted opinion article some months ago.

From the specific information provided on companies which underpaid their taxes, the Government was able to recover the sum of N13.8 billion as a result of those specific tips. The Whistle-blower policy has helped tremendously in facilitating recoveries of ill-gotten funds and assets.

Another major success began on June 29, 2017, when the Federal Government of Nigeria launched a revolutionary and bold reform initiative – the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS), through which citizens (tax payers) are offered a window of opportunity to regularize their tax status relating to previous tax periods, without incurring penalties.

Prior to the introduction of the policy, Nigeria’s tax compliance record was very poor with only about 14 million out of an estimated 70 million economically active Nigerians paying their taxes.

This had become more compelling, given Nigeria’s Tax Revenue-to-GDP ratio of 6%, which has remained one of the lowest in the world in comparison with countries in Nigeria’s peer group. The robust implementation of VAIDS has seen an increase in the number of tax payers from 13 million before the assumption of Office by the incumbent Administration to 14 million in 2016 and 19.3 million in 2018. It is instructive to note that some local and foreign companies are now disposed to the VAIDS initiative, and have started to regularize their tax status.

Other critical areas where the Minister has made very commendable impact on the Nigerian economy, include the Treasury Single Account.

Even where the Treasury Single Account (TSA) project was conceived by the previous administration, its aggressive and successful implementation was midwifed by Mrs. Adeosun as the Minister of Finance.

Under this initiative, all Federal Government’s accounts with the Commercial Banks were transferred to a pool account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), known as the TSA. The Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF), an agency under the Minister, had the statutory mandate to drive the implementation of this policy with support from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The TSA has further brought about transparency and effective tracking of Government’s revenues and blocking of leakages and abuse, which hitherto characterized Public Finance Management in Nigeria. Other benefits of the TSA include: to ensure availability of funds for the execution of government policies, programmes and projects, control aggregate cash flows within fiscal and monetary limits, improve management of domestic borrowing programme, enable investments of idle funds and improve transparency and accountability in the management of all FGN receipts and have a consolidated view of Government’s cash flow.

We can go on and on and name many other achievements, including clearing of Inherited Pension Arrears, Establishment of Development Bank of Nigeria, Addressing the Huge cost of Government’s Borrowing, Asset Tracking and Management Project or the Fiscal Sustainability Plans and Budget Support Facility for States of the Federation. 

These clear achievements, even before the NYSC comes out with an answer regarding what happened after she applied for an exemption certificate having studied in the United Kingdom, show that even without participating in the NYSC scheme, she has served Nigeria more than many who have been there and who still stole Nigerian assets.

Nigeria is a country where a few folks try to destroy those who are doing the right thing and fighting corruption.

But it is my belief that the reason she is being so viciously attacked is because those who triggered the “NYSC” so called certificate scandal, are trying to get at President Muhammadu Buhari.

It would be a huge mistake to get rid of her now, especially because there remains so much to do to cleanse Nigeria of many bad corrupt eggs.

This is not an article against journalists who have published some articles demanding genuine answers, and I do not say that the wrong thing should be done or encouraged, or even that the law should be broken with impunity, but there is a difference between those who published the article and are in search of genuine answers, and those who “leaked” the so-called “damaging information”, and now using it to bring the government down, just months to a general election beginning in February.

My opinion is that with the billions she has recovered, the taxes she has brought back into the system, the pensioners who have benefited, and many other achievements she has recorded, it’s inconsequential that she did not spend one year doing NYSC and came back to apply for an exemption certificate years after.

Go a step further: Read what she has said about the Nigerian economy

This article was written by Simon Ateba, a renowned international journalist based in Washington, District of Columbia, USA. The opinion expressed here is mine and does not reflect the opinion of https://www.https://www.todaynewsafrica.com

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Simon Ateba Washington DC
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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