Since last Friday, the Presidential Villa, Abuja, has been in celebratory mood. The West African Examination Council (WAEC) had presented our President, Muhammadu Buhari, with a brand new certificate. They officially called it confirmation and attestation of his results. The powerful WAEC delegation was led by its registrar, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae. And it was an elated Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, who announced the heart-warming news to the whole world. Now that Buhari has scored this major goal, Adesina wondered what naysayers or wailers would say next.
The mood in the Villa is understandable. Buhari’s WAEC certificate has been a thorny issue. The President claimed to have attended secondary school. But since 2003 when he started gunning for the Presidency of Nigeria, he never presented any certificate to back up his claim.
Opposition parties had used it to campaign against him. Some had even put modalities in motion for legal fireworks to stop him on account of this non-presentation of the certificate. Even now that WAEC has presented this attestation of result, they are still not satisfied.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) national publicity secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, put it succinctly: “If Mr. President has a certificate, why did he not use it in the 2015 election? Why is
the certificate suddenly coming out few months to the election? And have you checked the photograph that was attached to the certificate? In 1961, was it the requirement of WAEC to have a passport attached to school certificate?”
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, captured the scenario vividly.
He wrote, “This is a god-sent, with WAEC being a non-political entity. This should put to rest the absurd allegations by the PDP brought up again and again, that he did not attend a secondary school … In 2014-2015, when they raked up the issue, I remember that it took the courage of the then college principal to issue a statement of results from available records. In doing so, he defied the ruling PDP government in the state, which asked him not to.”
According to Shehu, Buhari met the eligibility for the contest in 2015 as he “presented the WAEC results and the other degree and non-degree-related results. He went through the verification process in the party, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the court. He ran and won against the PDP.”
Many questions are begging for answers here. One, if Buhari had presented WAEC results and other degree and non-degree-related results as Shehu claimed, why didn’t he submit same for the election? Why did he swear affidavit that his credentials were with the military?
Or how does one even explain that the WAEC headquarters in Ghana reportedly noted in 2015 that it had no results of Buhari in its records. Also, the military had in 2015 said none of the President’s original copy, Certified True Copy, or statement of result was in its archive? The Army Records office in Lokoja had claimed it didn’t have any records of General Buhari as a military officer.
The Presidential spokesman wondered why “a dead issue” should get the type of attention given it by the media. To him, there are many matters of serious concern to the citizens such as internal security, diversification of the economy, more reforms, better governance, poverty alleviation, job creation, ending corruption and so on.
To some extent, I agree with Mallam Shehu. More people have continued to commit suicide as a result of hardship occasioned by poor economy. More people have died because of serious internal insecurity. Many more people are disillusioned by the rampant display of nepotism and corruption that has festered over the years. So, he is right that we should devote more time to such issues.
But he is not totally correct to wish that we dismiss the certificate controversies surrounding our President. It should be a matter for serious scrutiny. If not, the Presidency wouldn’t have erupted in jubilation when WAEC people came calling with a brand new result duplicate or attestation, as the case may be.
Incidentally, it is even the ecstasy in the Villa that has surprised many Nigerians. Immediately the news broke last Friday, a friend of mine, Emeka Okpala, quipped, “Is this country, Nigeria, cursed? People are celebrating that the President of the most populous country in Africa has gotten O’level certificate to govern his nation in this 21st century! It’s a shame!”
Another friend sent me a bromide of the two circulating certificates, the one allegedly issued in 2015 by the then principal and the second one issued by WAEC and noted: “Same certificate, different results and same person, same school. Fraudsters.” WAEC has explained the seeming discrepancy though. Mathematics and Woodwork were omitted in the attestation because Buhari got F9 in the two subjects.
The opposition political parties under the aegis of Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) saw the presentation of the results as suspicious, laughable, and unbelievable. As far as the opposition parties are concerned, the result may have been hurriedly released to stall the commencement of the suit seeking to disqualify the President from contesting the 2019 presidential election.
The coalition added, “Let Nigerians be reminded that, few days ago, the opposition raised the alarm that there was ongoing move to tamper with the records of WAEC and pressure the leadership into manufacturing a result for President Buhari.
“Today’s (Friday) action of WAEC has vindicated our earlier fears and confirmed our stand that WAEC is now competing with Oluwole Market in manufacturing documents.
“WAEC should either present the original 1961 ledger and booklet containing the names of the 1961 candidates who sat the exam from the school in Katsina to backup their confirmation of result issued to President Buhari or apologise to Nigerians for attempting to mislead them with the booklet and destroy the credibility of the once-respected examination body.”
It is pertinent to note that Buhari’s qualification to run for the office of the president is not the main issue. For me, the cardinal issue is integrity, which the President is presumed to have in abundance. That perception of integrity is seriously waning. For one, the anti-corruption war is feeble and insincere. Recently, a national newspaper published a report indicating that at least eight of the politicians working for the re-election of Buhari have pending corruption cases worth N232 billion.
And now, we have this certificate saga. If the President claimed to have a secondary school certificate, but it later turns out to be false, then there is a serious problem. Since he claimed to have attended the Katsina Provincial Secondary School, the onus is on the Presidency to clear all doubts about the issue. Resorting to name-calling and abuse of those fishing for answers to the certificate conundrum will not help the situation.
I want to join the Presidency and some others to celebrate the discovery of this long-lost certificate. But I can only do that if I am fully convinced that there is no attempt to deceive the people.
Re: Nigeria must go?
Dear Igbokwe, “Nigeria must go” refers. When Nigeria, as our home, is in tatters and the head of the house is busy pursuing rats instead of gathering the pieces for re-construction, what do you expect our neighbours to do to us? Become sympathetic? Please, use your tongue to count your teeth.
– Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731
Sir, thanks indeed for your Buhari wahala. Don’t be surprised if you read his “media carpenters” in the Presidency and APC coming with insulting empty words glorifying and twisting facts.
– Anonymous, +2347035390254
Well, it is very unfortunate and sad that our leaders are not living up to expectations in governance to stop Nigerians from travelling out of this country for greener pastures, when we have resources to make Nigeria a better place for all. Our leaders should do something about good governance to stop Nigerians from travelling out because what they went through here is very unbearable.
– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535
Dear Igbokwe, your article of Monday, October 29, 2018, page 46 of Daily Sun is good but your problem is that sometimes you allow sentiment to becloud your good intentions. First, if any Nigerian feels that he has another country other than Nigeria, is it wrong to ask such a Nigerian to go to that country, instead of causing confusion in Nigeria? I want to remind you that one is not legally annoyed because one is aggrieved.
– Chief (Hon.) Urom A. Collins, +2348080276172
- First published in The Sun of Monday, November 5, 2018.