by Diana-Abasi Alphonsus Udoh
It took Buhari one month to even officially respond to his certificate issues. And now that he has finally release an official statement that he has requested his Secondary School to release his WAEC, let’s hope it doesn’t take the school another one month to respond to his request or release his certificate.
“Defending Buhari’s military Diploma gotten from USA isn’t the issue here. It’s like a man who actually attended but never finished University for his bachelor’s degree and was either expelled or had problems and couldn’t graduate then he goes on to fake the University transcript or certificate and goes to USA or UK and make distinctions in his MSc and PhD. The law is clear, whosoever comes to equity must come with clean hands or clean body. Everything built on that faulty foundation automatically becomes illegal and nullifies the other certificates one acquired.”
Many of us used to think that it was a common school certificate until we just realised today that it wasn’t so common after all, if not most people wouldn’t have needed a full month to respond to its request or even needed a world press conference to address were the common school certificate might be. Before today it was commonly acknowledge across the country that most Nigerians who have seen the four corners of basic education could produce it even if they were woken up from sleep in the middle of the night; but not so for Pa Muhammadu Buhari the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who required almost an entire month to even officially address the issue. And when finally his media handlers announced that he was going to once and for all address the issue so that we can all move on to other serious campaign issues on Wednesday 21st January 2015, many of his supporters and generality of Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief that finally the common school certificate which is a basic constitutional requirement to seek the highest political office in the land will be produced.
By morning of 21st January 2015, as early as 8am many of us were already monitoring live news channels across Nigeria for the press release scheduled for 9am. But by the appointed time, no word was heard. We thought maybe the 73 years old retired General must have been exhausted from his rigorous campaign trail or probably stuck searching through his briefcase for his common school certificate which has now become a national embarrassment. Noon arrived yet no word from Buhari or his handlers. Only for him to surface later in the afternoon before the camera in Kano Government House together with Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso to announce to the eager world that he never knew the Army wasn’t with his common school certificate. That he had thought all along that the Secretary of the Military Board had a copy until he also heard the announcement from the Army spokesperson the previous day that they do not have in their possession neither the originals or the photocopies of his credentials except a letter of recommendation written by his School Principal in Provincial Secondary Katsina (which is now known as Government College, Katsina).
In his press release, Buhari states correctly that he graduated the year 1961 and also remembers vividly that he graduated alongside other prominent Nigeria such as former Chief of staff to the Supreme Military Headquarters General Shehu Yar’Adua and Justice Umar Abdullahi, a former President of the Court of Appeal. He perfectly remembers that they all sat for the Cambridge/ WASC Examination together in 1961 and the 73 year old General perfectly remembers his Examination number as 8280002 which many of us would have forgotten by now after 53 years by he still has a perfect knowledge and remembers. But after all the elaborate details, he couldn’t flash “a common school certificate or its photocopy which many of us left disappointed had thought he will pull it out of a briefcase and brandish to the world while addressing the press conference and in between he would lambast the ruling party for ever asking him for such “a common certificate “. But lo and behold, this wasn’t to be the case as the certificate isn’t that common at least in some people’s portfolio. It took Buhari one month to even officially respond to his certificate issues. And now that he has finally release an official statement that he has requested his Secondary School to release his WAEC, let’s hope it doesn’t take the school another one month to respond to his request or release his certificate. Another scenario we hope to avoid is that the prestigious school doesn’t mysteriously burn up in a fire just to kill evidence. For most people already, the longer the people’s General has been dragging on the issue the clearer it gets that there’s something fishy underneath. For many if the General still fails to produce the certificate then it will call to question a system which allowed a man rise to become a Major General in the Nigerian Army through a mere recommendation letter from a school Principal. It will really be a slap on all of us and a show of arrogant nepotism that a man will steadily be promoted through the military ranks with no qualifications other than “pally-pally” arrangements. Meanwhile it is this born to rule mentality which many are already citing as a reason why Buhari should have risen through the ranks while many Nigerians of Igbo origin couldn’t be found worthy or qualified to serve as Chief of Army Staff until President Jonathan came and appointed Lt. Gen. Azubuike Iherjika a South Easterner as a Chief of Army Staff.
Unfortunately while the missing certificate scandal of a Presidential candidate rages on, many Nigerians have weighed in their opinions with some people embarrassingly asserting that even if Buhari presents a NEPA bill as certificate they will still vote for him as they want change. The question is “in a country of over 170 million people must we always put forward our worst foot?” we can do better than this and APC shouldn’t have looked backwards towards the past to present us with another dark chapter of our sad history which we are trying to close when they are new fresh air they would have presented. This shame steadily unravelling won’t just be on Buhari alone but his handlers and ardent supporters who fail to step immediately into the light. It is hugely worrying that many Nigerians miss the core of the issue here surrounding Buhari’s certificate. Of course Buhari distinguished himself in the Nigerian Army and left the Army as a two Star Major General with Diplomas and certificates from the best war colleges across the world to show for it if you care to demand for it. But you can’t build something on top of nothing, and that’s the basis of the law. Illegality begat illegality and anything built on a shaky foundation corrupts the entire structure on top of it. Defending Buhari’s military Diploma gotten from USA isn’t the issue. It’s like defending a man who actually attended but never finished University for his bachelor’s degree and was either expelled or had problems and couldn’t graduate then he goes on to fake the University transcript or certificate and goes to USA or UK and make distinctions in his MSc and PhD. The law is clear, whosoever comes to equity must come with clean hands or clean body. Everything built on that faulty foundation automatically becomes illegal and nullifies the other certificates one acquired.
The above scenario happened in the University of Uyo few years ago when Professor Hogan Akpan Ekpo was appointed the Vice Chancellor. He set up a committee to audit certificates awarded by the institution since inception and it was discovered that there were many fake certificates out there purportedly awarded by the University. Many of these people had moved on with their lives and bagged Masters Degrees in USA and other foreign institutions. A particular case which stood out and was publicly rumoured in the University circle was the case of an Executive with Exxon Mobil in Texas, USA. The University had to write to Mobil and the man was in deep scandal, which he had to run down to Nigeria to pull some political strings to pull the plug on the probe.
As a matter of urgency and decency many people are already thinking APC should immediately shop for a replacement candidate for Buhari as many foresee a scenario in which if at all he should win the Presidency the Supreme Court denies him the exalted seat. The case against him will be winnable in court even if it is handled by a fresh lawyer from law school. One wonders what his party is hoping to achieve or what gamble are they banking on if Buhari should fail to tender his WAEC certificate at the end of this circus run.
Let’s not underestimate the length the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) will go to use this matter to hurt Buhari’s campaign as events would have been the exactly the same had the tables been turned around and Jonathan was the one on this same position. This isn’t the time for Nigerians to play the hypocritical card but we must protect our pride as Nigerians because the man whom most people saw on TV speaking during his campaign trail was far from coherent and will ridicule us before the world if he gets to that seat. Added to this is the certificate mess again. We as a country can definitely do better than this. With over 170 million people there’s definitely someone better than this man out there.
Diana-Abasi Alphonsus Udoh is a Ph.D Research student at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Udoh tweets from @dian4real.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.
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