Buhari And His Certificate Saga

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We have been trying to stay out of the controversy surrounding President Muhammadu Buhari and his West African Schools Certificate result, because we believe that any other person could have been in that position, but would perhaps, have handled it differently.

In other words, it is possible that Muhammadu Buhari would have been drafted into the Nigerian Army without possessing the necessary academic qualifications based on the prevailing circumstances at the time, or due to some political considerations.

On the other hand, it is also possible that Muhammadu Buhari would have actually sat for the West African Schools Certificate Examination, but did not pass all the subjects offered, or that he did pass the examination, issued the necessary certificate, and on joining the military, was asked to submit the certificate to the military board, but somehow, along the line, the certificate got missing.

All these are possibilities and there is nothing criminal about that. So if Muhammadu Buhari had found himself in any of these situations, he would not be hanged. What however we found nauseating or embarrassing is the way and manner the entire certificate saga was handled.

We know for sure that whether or not Muhammadu Buhari possesses a secondary school certificate it would not have stopped him from being the President of Nigeria, since the Nigerian Constitution did not expressly state that unless one possesses a secondary school certificate he should not aspire to rule the country.

Our concern, however, border on integrity or truthfulness, the ability to decipher the truth and stand by it. When they tell us that Muhammadu Buhari is Mr. Integrity, we believe him to be so, and expect him to come out clean at all times in everything he does. This is, as the saying goes, he who seeks for equity, must come with clean hands.

Now, let us examine the story about Buhari’s certificate saga. In 2003, Buhari wanted to contest the Presidential election, he swore an oath that he possessed a secondary school certificate, but that the original certificate was with the Military Board. We agreed with him.

In 2007, Buhari again took an oath that the original of his certificate was with the military. We equally agreed. In 2011, he did the same thing, and we equally concurred. On each of these three occasions, we did not stress or put Buhari to task, that he must produce his original certificate. We merely took it for granted, relying on his integrity, and that he was under oath.

In 2015, however, some Nigerians began to smell something fishy. Why would Buhari always claim that his certificate was with the military board?, they asked. Why wouldn’t he have retrieved it from the military and include it in his other documents which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission? They then began to press him to do so.

However, in a dramatic turn of event, the Military quickly came out to categorically deny that they were with Buhari’s original certificate. While some of us did not quite believe the military, taking it to be part of political persecutions against Buhari by the then government in power, some other people decided to press further by dragging Buhari to court, challenging him to produce his school certificate.

Buhari responded by hiring about thirteen senior advocates of Nigeria to meet them in court. These people were later cajoled or intimidated to withdraw the case.

This time around, 2018, Buhari came up with the same antics, took an oath, to say that his certificate was with the military. But not many people believed him. They insist that since Buhari is now the Commander-in-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces, he should authorize the military to release his certificate. Some of them decided to go to court to press the demand.

The next we heard and saw on television was that the West African Examination Council (WAEC) had come all the way from its headquarters in Ghana to present Buhari with an “Attestation Certificate”. We all clapped.

We then begin to wonder and to ask: Why did Buhari travel all the way to Ghana to procure an “Attestation Certificate” while he could have simply ordered the head of the Army to immediately give him his original certificate, which he said was with them? Why was Buhari deceiving us all these while, lying under oath, and claiming that his certificate was with the military, when he knew that it was not with them?

If Buhari could be excused on the four previous occasions he took the oath that the military was having his certificate, not now that he is absolutely in charge, and has access to every information he may need. In other words, before swearing to an oath that his certificate was with the military this time around, Buhari ought to have done a thorough search to find out the status of his certificate. Or did he think that all of us are fools, and that he would continue to pool wool over our eyes?

Now, we have been told that WAEC out of sympathy, had decided to come all the way from Ghana to present Buhari with an Attestation Certificate. But WAEC disagreed, insisting that it was Buhari who first applied for the certificate before it decided to issue it to him.

If we are to agree with the Presidency that WAEC came on its own to present the certificate to Muhammadu Buhari, we wonder how the picture of a 76 year-old man we saw in that “Attestation Certificate” managed to get there?

Please, let nobody disturb me about Somebody being called “Mr. Integrity”, because he has failed to live up to that billing.

About Dons Eze

DONS EZE, PhD, Political Philosopher and Journalist of over four decades standing, worked in several newspaper houses across the country, and rose to the positions of Editor and General Manager. A UNESCO Fellow in Journalism, Dr. Dons Eze, a prolific writer and author of many books, attended several courses on Journalism and Communication in both Nigeria and overseas, including a Postgraduate Course on Journalism at Warsaw, Poland; Strategic Communication and Practical Communication Approach at RIPA International, London, the United Kingdom, among others.

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