By Bola Bolawole
I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep for ever
-Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s certificate saga is trending again! As in the run-down to the last presidential election in 2014/2015, Buhari is again unable or unwilling to present his certificates. Specifically in question is the president’s West African School Certificate, which is a prerequisite for candidates seeking elective posts in any election in the country. Nigeria must have one of the mildest electoral requirements in the whole world. What is required of the candidate is not a pass in WASCE (mere secondary school level) but evidence that he attended school up to that level and that he sat the exams, even if he records F9 parallel, as they say, like Senator Nurudeen Ademola Adeleke, PDP’s governorship candidate in last September’s election in Osun state. There is evidence that Buhari attended secondary school but what is in contention is whether or not he completed it – and whether or not he sat for the WASC examination. A school of thought is that he never sat for it; that army recruiters came while he was in school and recruited him into the Army and he never went back to complete his secondary school education. If this is the correct narrative, why is the president or anyone hiding the truth? For a fact, the various Army courses Buhari attended while in active military service and the cognate experience chalked up in his chequered public service career are more than the WASC and, I dare to say, are enough academic qualifications for the office of president.
Why, then, is Buhari hiding the truth and dodging behind one finger? It is likely that, from the outset, he had been misadvised and misled to play politics with this matter. Once he fell into that pit, like many other Nigerian politicians, it became difficult for him to extricate himself. He must continue to stick to his earlier narrative so as to appear consistent, no matter how awkward, laughable, and indefensible that position might seem. Salisu Buhari, the young Speaker of the House of Representatives at the outset of the Fourth Republic in 1999; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu; and, lately, Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun are some other Nigerians who have fallen into similar pit. Our political leaders, rather than speak up, often apply political solutions to glaring inadequacies; which was why the late Zik, when he was caught napping on tax issues, played the ethnic card rather than own up. “I am being victimised because I am Igbo”; he cried out and, pronto, he was left off the hook! They don’t own up here; rather, they give untenable excuses, like Adeosun did and like his Communications colleague, Adebayo Shittu, is doing with their NYSC discharge certificate scandal. Our leaders lack self-esteem and deem us, the people, as scum that they simply bluff their way through, like Shittu and another presidential aide, Obla, are doing right now and like the Jagaban did in his own time. President Buhari did similarly in 2015 and is again trying to do now. But if Buhari’s alibi of “my certificates are with the military and I have no access to them” sufficed in 2015, it no longer does now for the simple fact that as President/Commander-in-Chief, Buhari by now should have access to his certificates.
In 2014/2015, Buhari was candidate of the opposition All Progressives Congress while the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan were perceived by many as playing dirty politics with Buhari’s certificates. No one expected Buhari to have access to his certificates if truly they were in possession of Army authorities; so the doubt was, therefore, resolved in his favour. Even when the Army spokesperson, Brig.-Gen. Olajide Laleye, said Buhari’s certificates were not with the military, few believed him. Everyone thought it was politics; that PDP and Jonathan were merely trying to rubbish Buhari ahead of the 2015 presidential election. That was then. When Buhari won the election and became President/Commander-in-Chief, one of his very first actions was to retire Gen. Laleye. Four or five years after, however, the same alibi of “my certificates are with the military” no longer suffices for Buhari for the same simple reason that he now has access to his certificates. And he should go get them! The only excuse or explanation that can save Buhari now is: if the Army comes out to say that Buhari’s certificates got lost or got burnt in its possession. Otherwise, the president is guilty of telling a lie under oath and that is perjury, a criminal offence punishable under our laws – laws which Buhari had sworn to uphold and defend and which he has been applying to others. It is now time to apply the same laws to Buhari himself.
Buhari need not travel the ignoble, ignominious, and reprehensible path of lying under oath. He need not be desperate for office, too. He should simply declare the truth and let the truth stand up for him. What will be; will be! Qui sera; sera! For sure, truth will out, no matter how long and not minding whatever is done to cover it up. As matters stand today, the famed integrity of Buhari is gutted and his garment of probity in tatters. Using the above prisms, one begins to have a clearer understanding of who Buhari really is. He might have been unduly over-priced. We may all along have bedecked him in borrowed robes. We have poured on him accolades he least deserves. As we begin to have better understanding of why he is surrounded by the likes of Tinubu, Fayemi, Amaechi, Kyari, Okorocha, Shittu, Babachir Lawal, Daura, Maina, etc., we have better clarity why his anti-corruption war is skewed; and why corrupt politicians who defect to his side are immediately and automatically declared saints and left off the EFCC hook. One cannot but shudder to recall the decadent Christian era of the days of Martin Luther of the Reformation when stinking corrupt Catholic Church leaders sold indulgences to sinners for a fee and decreed their sins forgiven!
If gold rusts, what will silver do? If our “incorruptible” leader is who we have now come to perceive him to be, what level of probity should we expect of his followers? Could this not be the reason why the Presidency is inchoate and everyone is law unto himself; why impunity and corruption run riot right under Buhari’s nose; why Mr. President is powerless in dealing with obvious cases of corruption and other administrative lapses to the consternation of reasonable Nigerians; why cabals do as they wish and the “lion” (to quote the First Lady, Aisha) is unable to rein-in the hyenas, jackals, wolves, etc? I have had enough glimpses into the corridors of power to know that once aides have hold of their bosses’ secrets, they exploit them to utmost advantage. Once they have you by the balls or, quoting another colleague, once they know your template or weak points, aides become uncontrollable and act rampantly only to feather their own nests. Why end the career of Gen. Laleye when it is now obvious he spoke the truth? That was abuse of power. It was injustice and it was corruption. Political leaders like kings Ahab and David, who abused their office to oppress hapless citizens, were given exemplary punishment by the Most High God. Placed side-by-side and with the benefit of emerging facts, I will rather recommend Adeosun, and not Buhari, for sainthood.
This, then, is where we close with Jefferson’s immortal words quoted above. God is a God of justice. He may be slow, as some will say, but He will surely act. His justice may tarry but it will not sleep forever.
“Oshiomhole: What goes around comes around” was an interesting piece. – 08033227983.
Yours on Oshiomhole was instructive. May your pen never dry! My take, however, is that Oshiomhole should answer to Bishop Ochei’s accusation. – Uzor.
What Oshiomhole suffers today was his inability to see beyond the trap set for him by Oyegun who, when his plan for tenure extension failed, went ahead to conduct kangaroo congresses that brought back most of the old chairmen and he hurriedly inaugurated them even when most of them were being challenged in court. When Oshiomhole came on board, he was not smart enough to see that some of these chairmen were planted to frustrate his leadership while “angelizing” Oyegun. Oshiomhole’s first action should have been to dissolve them and conduct a new congress in states where there were parallel EXCO emanating from Oyegun’s evil arrangement. In so doing, he would have caged the raging tigers because most of them would have lost out and there would have been peace in those states where there are problems now; for instance, Enugu state. -Engr. Frank.
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