President Buhari
President Buhari

BY EDE-ANYA GEORGE

There has been much fury in the clan of PDP, Nigeria’s main opposition. Drily voices vibrated in consuming chants; there were ruckus hullaballoos or inexplicable excitement in the opposition camp everywhere. They were demanding President Muhammedu’s Buhari’s secondary school certificate. So, tongues meaninglessly wagged in haughty ambience.

Similarly in 2014, when President Buhari as the then main opposition Presidential candidate of the APC, contested against the PDP incumbent, former President Goodluck Jonathan, same queries and voices of discontent stampeded every ear. Then, as now, PDP members were piqued that Buhari failed to submit to INEC, his West African School Certificate (WASC) obtained in 1961 from Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, now Government College.

Since Buhari was a formidable force in the 2015 election, which eventually ousted the PDP government, the onus fell on them to expose Buhari’s certificate “scandal.” They had every weapon to their advantage. But they reneged after discreet investigations confirmed Buhari indeed, sat and wrote the said exams. They retreated quietly.

But glued to the penchant of mendaciousness, now oiled by pathetic scarcity of ideas for campaigns, the PDP resurrected Buhari’s certificate issue again in 2018, as the President guns for reelection. The West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has laid to rest the ghost of Buhari’s certificate saga , by issuing him with an “Attestation Certificate.”

But it has rather stirred fresh, but more empty and funny probing by the PDP and their sympathizers. The PDP and their allies are questioning the Attestation Certificate which the Registrar of WAEC, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae led other senior staff of the council to present to President Buhari on November 2, 2018.

The greatest problem is the sanity of the fresh posers on the certificate narratives by the opposition. The Conference of United Political Parties (CUPP) in a statement in Abuja signed its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ikenga Ugochinyere claimed it was a “desperate effort to mislead the court and shield the President from disqualification from participating in the election.”

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CUPP demanded for master sheet of the exams, containing names of other candidates who sat for the exams with Mr. President in 1961. But it could not wait for WAEC to either reject or accept and act on the request. Rather, they hastened to pass a condemnatory verdict, which preempted the exams body by concluding that it is a; “manufactured result which is not backed with any evidence to show President Buhari participated in the 1961 exams.”

PDP laughably said through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan that, “It is a tragicomedy. We never expected Mr. President to dramatically come this low because you cannot have a certificate and be calling it an attestation. What are they attesting to? We stand by our position that Mr. President has no school certificate.”

Shame! Are Nigerians to believe PDP’s argument that attestation certificate is not issued in cases where original certificates are missing for whatever reason? The PDP and its distractive elements have built thick conjectures around the issue of Buhari’s certificate.

And the only obvious reason is how to rubbish President Buhai’s hard earned integrity. They are not really concerned with the substance of the case, or else, the opposition actors know where to verify the accuracy of the information tendered on Buhari’s WASC. PDP should be telling Nigerians of the contradicting versions of their independent findings.

When the same controversy sprouted in 2014, an online news portal Premium Times, stretched its independent investigations to the University of Cambridge, which then regulated the West African School Certificate Examinations (WASCE), which issued the WASC to Buhari in 1961. It was confirmed President Buhari sat for the exams.

The medium wrote that it “obtained the computer printout from Cambridge University as well as a statement of result, signed by the current principal of Katsina College, dated January 21, 2015.”

Other interconnected details such as the examination centre number given as 8280, while candidate (Buhari) number 002 were released to the public. Additionally, the Cambridge print out also showed the result of 17 other candidates at the centre, including the Late Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua, a former Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters and Justice Umar Abdullahi, a former President of the Court of Appeal.

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Assuming PDP and its apologists dread the possibility of WAEC’s connivance with Buhari to shield him. But is it not an added advantage to the inquisitors that the records of WASC in contention were also domiciled with an institution outside the shores of Nigeria, which is immune from manipulations from local interests?

In a the globalized world of today, It takes no extra pain, expenses or efforts to contact the University of Cambridge using the exam details in public domain to ascertain the truth or otherwise.

Except those perpetually tethered to the sentiments expressed by the PDP and its goons, like the President himself stated, without a basic school certificate, he could not have neither been allowed to attend the Defence Services Staff College, India in 1973 nor later, the prestigious, United States Army War College, where Buhari is listed as one among the few distinguished alumni.

It also sounds hollow that the Army would have allowed Buhari to rise to the rank of a Major General before retiring. Its hogwash completely. Much as PDP attempt to erode the integrity of President Buhari in the public eye, he has always come out unscathed.

Nigerians who have followed the trend of the PDP against Buhari would know that the certificate issue is not the first smear campaign against President Buhari. First, the PDP screamed loudly that Buhari at 74 plus was too old to rule Nigeria. But when an opportunity offered itself for PDP to anoint a presidential flagbearer, they opted for a 72-year old Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and the sermons on age eased out quietly.

The PDP claimed, President Buhari suffers perennial ill-health; he is not strong enough, physically unfit and may likely die on seat if reelected President. But like a divine intervention, President Buhari is no longer down with ill-health and astonished his traducers when he showed his other side of Athlete Carl Lewis. It quieted them.

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The PDPists disparage President Buhari’s performance records. But when the records of his three and half years Presidency are unveiled, it surpasses PDP’s performance in the 16 years they were on the saddle. And they began to speak in hushed tones. It, therefore, explains PDP’s passionate attachment to smear campaigns on President Buhari’s integrity over an imaginary perjury over WASC.

Pleasantly, PDP’s sensless push against Buhari has finally confirmed and conferred the status of saintliness on Buhari, a man of integrity. The certificate vampires would have to craft another tale, to busy themselves. They question Buhari’s certificate but are less vocal on Atiku’s alleged under-declaration of personal income and underpayment of tax.

President Buhari is consoled that sometimes when your enemies maliciously vilify you, they wake you from slumber to achieve what ordinarily would have attracted your attention.

It has surely dawned on Mr. President’s antagonists’ that the fog is clear and they have no option than to face real campaign issues. Nigerians would want to know why the ousted PDP government could not complete and commission the numerous capital projects it initiated, but monies fully paid, but wishes to be given credit when Buhari completes and commissions’ them and so forth. These are the issues for 2019.

If indeed, President Buhari has no certificate or faked one, as alleged by PDP, the party should be happier to challenge it in court and retrieve the mandate Nigeria would again entrust with Buhari in 2019. No one knows why the PDP or any Nigerian prefers to make noise in the media instead of challenging the issue in court.

George wrote this piece from University of Southern California, USA.