Between the NYSC and Governor Mbah 

Mr. Peter Mbah governor of Enugu state has chosen a path that leads to nowhere. His current effort to discredit the 50 years old National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), one of the post-Civil War institutions designed to give effect to Nigeria’s quest for national integration and unity is an exercise in futility. The NYSC, one of the key national institutions that has refused to be brow beaten by politicians to their whims, has already established a highly regarded tradition of saying it, the way it is. Mr. Peter Mbah latest effort of slamming a suit of 20 billion naira against the NYSC is largely a distraction that fools no one.

A civic group, Save Nigeria Movement (SVM) has recently characterized the Court Case the governor has instituted against the NYSC as a “barefaced attempt to force the scheme into accepting a fake document” and wisely predicted that Mr. Mbah Court shenanigans which it described as “ego trip would end in utter disgrace” of the governor. The issue at stake is fairly straightforward and simple. Mr. Peter Mbah presented a fake discharge certificate.

The director-general of the NYSC, Brig. General Y.D Ahmed was precise, unequivocal and frankly unambiguous in clarifying the situation about Mr. Mbah NYSC discharge Certificate. According to the DG. of the Scheme, Mr. Mbah” came to me and I called my Director to confirm the Certificate  and we discovered the certificate was fake and I told him”, For full effect, the NYSC D. G added “I wonder how elites who have gone to school will resort to black market Certificates. Everyone knows how we issue our Certificate in NYSC; we don’t give it in hotel rooms or houses.”

The Director-general of the NYSC scheme is the most competent person to speak, attest and confirm certificates issued by the body and to demonstrate his due diligence, he called in the director of the relevant department, with whom, Mr. Mbah was conclusively informed of the status of the Certificate he has paraded. 

Mrs. Kemi Adeosun reputed as one of Nigeria’s competent finance ministers, and who was also caught up in the whirlwind of fake NYSC discharge Certificate, despite having no personal role in procuring the fake Certificate did the most honorable and decent thing:, left the job immediately it become clear to her that the Exemption Certificate she has held was not issued by the NYSC authorities. She should have chosen to flex legal muscles, prolong her stay in public office and raise unnecessary red flag to tarnish and undermine the institution as Mr. Mbah is currently doing. Mr. Mbah is in a futile race against the tide and time and his effrontery to embarrass and undermine a key national institution represent the most bare-face of all impunities and has zero chance of success.

The first citizen of a sub-national state is not only a political leader but a moral exemplar. Mr. Mbah or his representative should stand to take salute from corps members to be discharged from the NYSC every year in Enugu state and how does a man who paraded a fake NYSC Certificate stand in good conscience to oversee the award of genuine discharge Certificate to deserving corps members. With growing concerns about how a large swath of contemporary youths seek Certificates without commensurate work or study outputs, how would the first citizen of a state lead a campaign against such vices, when he is actually a prime culprit. Peter Mbah moral baggage is too heavy and humongous to be discharged by any sort of political smartness. Despite the electoral heist that brought him to office, now, a matter of judicial contest with those he out maneuvered, the moral baggage of a Certificate forger is a clear  red line, no leader of worth should dare to cross.

Even the clergy have balked at Mr. Mbah’s moral outrage. The South East Zone of the Network of Evangelical Bishops of Nigeria, prior to his inauguration as the governor of Enugu State called on the Nigerian Police to arrest him, and described him “as unfit for public office.” According to the body “he is not a fit and proper person to hold public office, let alone the exalted office of the Enugu State governor.” The group which expressed shock at his effrontery to not only obtain an ex parte court order to bar the NYSC from testifying on the authenticity of the discharge Certificate but wondered why “a pathological liar, forger and black mailer would have audacity to announce to sue the NYSC for 20 billion naira for telling the truth which everyone knows.” The clerics further warned that “only a person with integrity can sue for libel where he or she will prove that his reputation has been tarnished by a publication,” and added that “a forger has no reputation to protect and, therefore does not have the grounds to sue for libel or slander.”

The clergy group who ostensibly understood the back hand strategy of Mr. Mbah further clarified that he was then “merely striking postures meant to cow the public institutions and our society at large, so that he can find himself into government House on May 29th and begin to use the state resources and apparatus brazenly to barricade himself against the long arms of the law.”

However, Mr. Mbah is even more vulnerable in the government house than he was outside, because he would be covering himself with only a thin veil. Despite that sometimes democracy resembles an organized chaos, yet it has rules and it is the rule that elevates it beyond mob excitements. Its basic rule is that it has entry point and this defines the benchmark for participation.

It is not for nothing that billions of naira is spent to prepare a credible electoral register, and the permanent voters cards, all clearly articulating a qualified voter and authenticating his or her genuineness. If the voter has a humongous burden to establish his or her credibility to cast the vote, the person to be voted has even a bigger burden to establish his or her suitability to be voted for. 

If a prospective voter is ineligible to vote by any deficit of the enabling qualifications, the one putting himself or herself forth to be voted cannot imaginably come close to public office attained through credible voting, if he or she is short of the basic rudiments of qualification. Mr. Mbah cannot seek to benefit from democratic participation if he so flagrantly comes short of the basic rules, defining its framework.

Since he was sworn in, 1on the 29th of May, he seemed to have embraced the strategy of high visibility ostensibly to impress himself to the sub-consciousness of the people as fait accompli. But the great injustice of leading a highly enlightened Enugu people by a man tarnished by Certificate forgery cannot be alleviated by any splash of political sun-bathing.

Onunaiju, public affairs commentator writes from Abuja.