X-raying General Buhari’s certificate scandal
The recent media report credited to Alhaji Lia Mohammed, the publicity secretary of All Progressive Congress, to the effect that the ongoing efforts being made by some concerned Nigerians in the Court of Law by seeking an incontrovertible clarifications on sundry issues pertaining to Major General Mohammadu Buhari’s certificate controversy amounted to an attempt to scuttle our fledgling democracy, is, to say the least, completely misplaced. This is because in any democratic setting or any society that is sincerely committed to upholding the principles of rule of law, the Court of Law remains the orthodox channel through which aggrieved citizenry are meant to ventilate their disaffection and dissatisfaction to the fullness, as opposed to taking recourse to violence for same purpose. Little wonder that the Law Court is often regarded to be the last hope of a common man.
Incidentally, there is clearly nothing wrong for concerned Nigerians to drag General Muhammadu Buhari to the court of law over his questionable and contradictory claims pertaining to his seemingly nonexistent Cambridge University WASC, and neither is there anything sinister about the intention of litigants on the matter as being hallucinated and fussed about by Alhaji Lia Muhammed the APC spokesman. After all, it is a well established position of the relevant provisions of the Electoral Act that Nigerians who feel dissatisfied with any contestant’s information/documents as attached in INEC’s contest form should do what some litigants are currently doing on the issue concerning General Buhari’s certificate scandal. Needless to say that with this approach, our democracy is not only gaining consolidation but also has begun to ensure that those who offer themselves for the service of Nigerians do so with a sense of rectitude and self assurance. To this end, there is an urgent need for Lia Mohamed and his ilk to desist from utterances capable of undermining the spirit, the validity and the good intentions of our laws.
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No doubt, as it were, only a competent Court of Law is at the moment apparently positioned to either validate of vitiate whatever claims that Major General Mohammadu Buhari and all interested litigants are currently holding on to over the former’s certificate saga.
However, based on the prima facia inconsistencies arising from Buhari’s certificate scandal so far and upon which barefaced lies have thus emerged, nothing could be further from the truth. To begin with, Buhari’s averment under oath that his credentials were with the Nigeria Military Board, a copy of which he reportedly submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in wrong fulfillment of the provisions of the Electoral Act, remains a controversial issue that needs to be sorted.
On the other hand, the subsequent refutation of this Buhari’s bogus claim by the Nigeria Army Authority is yet another matter that has brought to the fore the abysmal level of integrity bankruptcy of General Mohammadu Buhari. Probably speaking with a pang of malice, this may even help to explicate the real rationale behind his disposition towards the issue of restructuring the army.
But beyond this refutation, it smacks of immense curiosity that at a time, in 1961 to be precise, that Mohammadu Buhari claimed in his 199A form (ie in his Army recruitment form) that he had credits in English language, Geography, Health Science, Hausa and a pass in English literature, the principal of his Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, “in recommending Buhari for commissioning as an officer, said I recommend him for military commissioning; I consider that Mohammadu Buhari will pass the West African School Certificate in English, Maths and three other subjects”. But like many Nigerians are wont to ask: at what point then did the young Buhari credit the foregoing subjects? Could it be in the same 1961 when he applied to be recruited into the Nigeria Army and following which he sought and obtained the foregoing recommendation from his principal at the time? Or could it be after he had been commissioned as an officer in the Nigerian Army? These and more are all questions of abiding interests.
Meanwhile, as these puzzles linger, it is important to note that no sooner did the Army speak out in swift denial of General Buhari’s baseless claim about the custody of his credentials than the General helplessly recanted, blurting out a gaffe like a child aroused from a nightmarish slumber. Thus on 20th January, 2015, General Buhari publicly announced to the chagrin of many Nigerians and his supporters alike - while addressing a press conference in Kano State over his Secondary School Certificate - that “I had assumed all along that all my records were in the custody of the military Secretary of Nigeria Army. Much to my surprise, we are now told that although a record of the result is available, there are no copies of the certificates in my personal file”. To say the least, this is really an aberration. How could a man reputed to have served as one time secretary to the Nigeria Military Board be wallowing in the world of assumption? Or is this assumption in any way devoid of the legal offence of perjury. Or could ignorance in the prevailing circumstance constitute sufficient grounds or plea for the breach of law as relates to lying under oath? Or is Nigerian law going to be construed to suit and accommodate General Bahari’s ignorance with impunity? If that is so, would that be in tandem with the universal concept of rule of law and the government’s propensity to philosophize about it? Anyway, as the date of the Presidential election draws closer Nigerians and the world are keenly watching and awaiting the judicial interpretation on this matter at the earliest.
Moreover, on the recent statement reportedly released by the incumbent principal of Buhari’s Provincial Secondary School (now Government College) Katsina, it is crystal clear that Buhari’ s futile attempt so far to improvise a Cambridge University WASC for himself has only ended up breeding more lies. For one, unlike the initial report of having made credit in mathematics as contained in his personal file with the Nigerian Army, the same Buhari reportedly scored F (failure) in the same subject as evidenced in the said statement of result recently released. Similarly questionable is the emerging twist associated with Buhari’s name. Curiously, while Buhari had always been known and addressed over time as “Mohammadu” which is evidently attested to by both the letter of recommendation on him issued by his School Principal in 1961 and the name in his personal service file with the Nigeria Army, his emerging novel name “Mohamed” as contained in the recent Statement of result released by the current principal of Government College (aka Provincial Secondary School) Katsina, leaves much to be desired. In fact, in no small extent, it bugles one’s mind how these names -“Mahammadu” and “Mohamed” - and their respective spellings could now be considered same and as appropriately belonging and referring to one and the same man who had never effected any change of name ab intio or, at least, publicly confessed otherwise.
Viewed from all ramifications, therefore, it is embarrassing that up till now General Mahammadu Buhari has not deemed it timely, essential and imperative to show Nigerians and the world at large the authentic copy of his West African School Certificate, if at all he possesses one. Also, it is a pity that all General Buhari has been telling us and doing all this while concerning the barrage of questions about his so-called Cambridge University WASC has mainly bordered on attempts at whipping up irrelevant sentiments and striving in the process to usher in unnecessary diversion of attention from the vexed issue. Even more ignominious on the whole is the crass remark often heard from Buhari’s supporters and fellow party men, especially from certain supposedly educated minds amongst them, to the effect that it does not matter whether or not the retired General has lied under oath about his credentials or indulged in the outright forgery of his Cambridge University WASC. According to their thinking, even if it is a marriage certificate that General Buhari is able to produce in the long run as an evidence of his secondary school education, that of course should be accepted rather than rejected or be used as a basis for disqualifying him for not abiding by the stipulations of the laws of Nigeria. Funny enough, this line of thought is similarly and shamelessly being echoed and propagated by no less a person than Alhaji Lia Mohammed, the publicity secretary of All Progressive Congress (APC). In an interview with Saturday Tribune Newspaper of January 31, 2015, Alhaji Lia Mohammed contends that “I think what Nigerians are saying is that even if all he (Buhari) has to show is a NEPA bill, they will vote for him”. Hmm! Wonders shall never cease! Just imagine a nation in this 21 ist century mortgaging its sovereignty and feature to a man whose qualification for desiring the authority to govern derives validity from the notion that he possesses his electricity bill (?). This is utterly ridiculous. And it is high time Alhaji Lia Mohammed and his ilk desisted from making Nigerians and Nigeria a laughing stock.
All said, as far as democracy is concerned, General Mahammadu Buhari must adhere to the dictates of our laws and there is no other time than now. The fact that the issue about his secondary school education result was not emphasized in his previous Presidential contests is no excuse to ward off or suppress the clamor for it now. If the allegation by Alhaji Lia Mohammed that the current and commendable efforts of some patriotic Nigerians in the court of law aimed at compelling General Muhammadu Buhari to produce an authentic copy of his so-called Cambridge University West African School Certificate (WASC) is conceived by the All Progressive Congress as an attempt to scuttle our democracy, then it may not be out of place to submit that the APC is totally bereft of the culture of democracy. Of course stopping Major General Buhari from participating in the forthcoming Presidential election on whatever legitimate grounds by a competent court of law is never tantamount to an attempt to scuttle our democracy. After all, General Buhari is only one out of other Presidential aspirants in the current race for the Presidency. And nobody, man or woman, is forcing any of these Presidential aspirants not to tell lies about anything, but if they must do that such must be done under the circumstances of our laws which must be justified.
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