Integrity is not a word Nigerians can be said to love or respect; neither do they care much about a good name which the Scriptures say is more “desirable than great riches”.
This is why we salute Mrs Kemi Adeosun for resigning from her top job as the Finance Minister.
We commend her, whether or not her resignation was stage managed or choreographed as some critics have said. Despite the internal politics that may have been involved, the circumstances surrounding her resignation and the time it took to happen not minding the weight of the offence, we congratulate her for opening up the door of integrity, however narrowly.
The Finance Minister resigned her position as one of the most powerful people in the Buhari Government, over her NYSC discharge certificate scandal. Since the news broke, the civil society has been calling for her resignation and getting an excuse instead. Eventually, she resigned last week.
Government officers in Nigeria neither admit wrong doing nor resign, however heinous the offence is. We even have cases of those who were allegedly fired but rehired through the back door. We make noise for a while and everything dies down. The result is business as usual.
Unlike others before her, Adeosun admitted she was wrong and apologised. We do not care that it took well over a month for her to do the right thing. All we wanted was that she should resign and she has resigned, in a country where public officers hang on to power as if it belongs to them personally.
Whether Mrs Adeosun was forced to resign or not is no longer important. If she quit the job to protect her “good name” or those of the “powers that be” who are preparing for the 2019 general elections, it is all well and good. Let all other “forgers” and “dodgers” toe the Adeosun line and quit in the nation’s interest.
Adeosun has challenged what we know as the norm. She has given us a new normal which we must sustain. We beg others to follow her example and bring some common sense into governance; we live in the 21st Century and it cannot be business as usual. Nigeria can’t run its own brand of democracy, and it is sad that this is what is happening.
What Adeosun has done is not common in Nigeria. Except the likes of Idika Kalu, a former Finance Minister who quit his job because his advice on the IMF was not taken, we are not aware of any public officer, at that level and in recent times, who has resigned for ethical reasons.
No one is willing to give up a good Government job in Nigeria, for anything. Even those who have committed serious offences and have been caught have found dubious means to keep their jobs. This is where ethnicity, religion, tribalism and other Nigerian monsters come in. Public office is seen as a lifeline to power, wealth and riches, resigning even for the worst offence is unthinkable.
This is why we salute Mrs Adeosun for taking the part of honour, even in dishonour. She has done what many would not do. She has done what we only hear or read in foreign news and marvel.
We need more leaders like her. But let not the Buhari Government take credit for her action because there are many bad eggs within it. This is personal to Mrs Adeosun. We seriously hope there are others who will take a leaf from the ex-Finance Minister, choose a good name and resign. There is no alternative to integrity, here and elsewhere.