Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, resigned last Friday after discovering that an exemption certificate she received from the National Youth Service Corps(NYSC) had been improperly obtained. Here is a review of her tenure, which lasted nearly three years. Adeosun was sworn in as a minister in November 2015.
Intervention for states
One of Adeosun’s first duties was to arrange bailout funds for states in the country running into trillions of Naira. Without this, most of them would have run into crisis. In exchange, the states were required to adopt policies that would engender fiscal prudence.
Treasury Single Account (TSA)
While Ngozi Okonjo Iweala under the Goodluck Jonathan administration made a feeble attempt to implement the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy, Adeosun embraced it and took it to a conclusion.
Though commercial banks in the country felt the pinch from the withdrawal of funds, and some departments and agencies complained of being starved of needed funds, the policy created prudence in the management of government revenue.
Adeosun also created an efficiency unit in the Ministry of Finance. The unit worked across Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to prevent duplication of expenses. This resulted in savings of over N10 billion annually.
Adeosun actively pursued the whistleblower policy which led to the country recovering billions of Naira, most notably the Ikoyi gate. At the peak of controversy surrounding the nonpayment of the whistleblower, Adeosun stated that he would be paid and over 20 whistleblowers were paid so far.
The erstwhile finance minister was also instrumental in promoting the Voluntary Income and Asset Declaration Scheme (VAIDS). VAIDS resulted in the number of taxpayers increasing from 14 million to 19 million.
Increased excise taxes
During her tenure, excise taxes were increased on alcohol and tobacco. The increase in taxes which will be phased from now till 2020, are as a result of an ECOWAS policy and recommendations by the IMF.
Debt service remained high
Under her watch, debt service remained high. Debt service as a percentage of the 2016 budget was 24.4%. For the 2018 budget, it only dipped marginally to 21.9% of the budget. In nominal terms, it rose from N1.48 trillion in 2106 to N2.0 trillion in 2018.
FAAC receipts dwindled
Despite the rebound in crude oil prices, FAAC receipts had dwindled in the months prior to her resignation. The dire situation led to FAAC meetings being deadlocked severally, as state commissioners of finance walked out in protest.
$426 million helicopter
The government’s decision to pay $426 million for helicopters without the approval of the National Assembly. Was a big query.
Failure to resign on time
In what is arguably her biggest miss, Adeosun failed to address the controversy surrounding how she obtained a certificate exempting her from the National Youth Service Core (NYSC). The scandal rid her of credibility, towards the end of her tenure and prevented her pushing with needed reforms.