• Says Stories Were Mere Conjectures
Contrary to speculations that has been making the rounds early in the day, the Presidency yesterday night dismissed insinuations that Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly and the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, met together with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Presidency, in a statement signed by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, yesterday claimed that the reports were far from the truth and just mere conjectures.
Specifically, the Lagos cleric and former running mate to President Buhari in the 2011 presidential election, Pastor Bakare, was earlier on Friday seen alongside the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, as they walked into the President’s office in Aso Rock, Abuja.
Speculations were rife that the duo was in the villa, ostensibly to facilitate a soft landing for the embattled Minister, who has been embroiled in a NYSC certificate scandal.
The duo, at 2:30 pm, walked past State House Correspondents on the alleyway shortly after the Jumma’at prayer session by Muslim faithful at the Presidential Villa. They were engrossed in a discussion as they proceeded straight to the President’s office.
It could not be officially ascertained why Pastor Bakare was in the company of Adeosun in Aso Rock yesterday, but sources said the visit was not unconnected with the controversy dogging the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate allegedly being bandied around by the minister.
However, Pastor Bakare left the villa at 4:00pm, leaving Adeosun behind. Fielding questions on why he was in the villa with Adeosun, Bakare told curious newsmen that his visit was not connected with the certificate scandal.
He quipped, “no, no, no! We met here,” as he walked away.
The minister later emerged 45minutes after Pastor Bakare. Curiously, she did not speak with the newsmen nor exchanged pleasantries and banters, as she would usually do in the past.
An online newspaper had broken the news earlier this week that the Minister of Finance obtained a “fake” NYSC exemption certificate.
The minister, who is said to have graduated from the Polytechnic of East London (now University of East London) in 1989 at the age of 22, did not participate in the one-year compulsory national scheme.
The Finance minister remained in the UK where she worked until 2002, at age 35, when she returned to the country.
The NYSC in reaction to the scandal had said that it would investigate the source of the allegedly forged exemption certificate purportedly being used by the minister.
Director of Press of NYSC, Adeyemi Adenika, in a statement confirmed that Mrs. Adeosun, who had skipped the scheme, applied for an exemption certificate.
However, fielding questions on why the government was yet to speak on the scandal, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, last Wednesday said officials of the NYSC have already spoken on the matter hence there was nothing more to add to the issue.
Mohammed who briefed State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Mohammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said, “the government has spoken. NYSC is part of government and I have nothing to add to what NYSC has said.”
Mrs. Adeosun is yet to react to the allegation since the report of the fake exemption certificate being used by her broke out.
However, reacting to the development, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, yesterday, said the stories with insinuations making the rounds that Pastor Bakare and Adeosun, met together with President Buhari at State House, Abuja, was just a figment of the imagination.
“It is far from the truth,” Adesina said in his clarification.
The statement read: “The Minister was at the Presidential Villa in connection with the Annual General Meeting and 25th Anniversary Celebration of African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK) holding today in Abuja, which would be graced by President Buhari.
“She ran into Pastor Bakare, who was on a scheduled visit to see the President, and they exchanged pleasantries. The cleric particularly thanked the Minister for finding time to attend his mother’s funeral, which took place in Abeokuta, Ogun State, penultimate weekend.
“Mrs Adeosun had seen President Buhari not fewer than three times earlier in the week, and did not need to meet with him again on Friday (yesterday).
“This statement is to put events in proper perspective, and dispel all conjectures and fictive reporting.”