President Buhari, WAEC, PDP’s Toxic Air -By Garba Shehu

Filed under: National Issues |

The West African Examinations Council (WAEC), on Friday, said that the controversy concerning President Muhammadu Buhari’s school certificate is embarrassing and felt a sense of duty to produce and deliver to him a confirmation and attestation of his results, in form of a duplicate certificate.

This is a god-sent, with WAEC being a non-political entity. This should put to rest the absurd allegations by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), brought up again and again, that he did not attend a secondary school.

The unreasonable position of the PDP had been sustained all along in spite of the testimonies of classmates who studied with him in school and with who he graduated, despite the fact that a court of law had already given a ruling on the matter.

Between 2014 and 2015 when they raked up the issue, I remember that it took the courage of the then principal of the college he had attended to issue a statement of results to him from available records. In doing so, he defied the ruling PDP government in the state, which asked the educationist not to.



At the time he received the results sheet, reports had it that the government had determined to send arsonists to burn the school to ashes so that the existing records would be obliterated.

This was against the backdrop of the shocking claim by the Army Records office in Lokoja, that they didn’t keep any documentation of General Buhari as a military officer.

Curiously, the Army Records office had once come under Muhammadu Buhari, as military secretary who, during his tenure, streamlined the records of the entire officer corps, and could not, by any stretch of imagination, have left his own records in a mess. General Alani Akinrinade (Rtd.) reportedly dismissed this mischief as an insult to the military.

After doing his conscience’s duty by daringly releasing those results, the then government of Katsina State punished the Principal by stripping him of his seniority and posting.

As we said in a number of past statements, the matter of the president’s qualification to run for office is a non-issue, nonetheless feasted upon by the PDP, which has stopped thinking and has nothing to offer to Nigerians.

On the basis of the argument that “education gives a human being the power to discriminate between right and wrong,” the 1999 Constitution stipulates a minimum educational qualification for citizens who intend to contest for elections at all levels, which requires that they must possess at least a secondary school education or its equivalent.

The provision above has itself come under serious re-examination by scholars who argue that the possession of a secondary school certification does not necessarily mean that a person is intelligent. It is equally argued that it is a mistake to assume that a person with a certificate has higher knowledge or intelligence than the one who doesn’t have.

In an article published by the Daily Trust a day or so ago, Professor Shehu Zuru quoted Wendy Sherman, the author of the book Not For The Faint Heart that, “courage and integrity are critical attributes that you cannot acquire from a classroom because they are the inert fabrics of human conscience that dictates the power of the negative and the power of the positive.”

As far as his educational career is concerned, President Buhari attended the Katsina Provincial Secondary School, before enrolling in the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) Kaduna (1962), which was renamed the Nigerian Defence Academy in 1964.

As narrated by Major-General Sani Saleh (Rtd), “I worked at the Nigerian Defence Academy so I know the processes. You cannot get in with a forged certificate, it is impossible.

“At the time (Muhammadu Buhari enrolled), the army was still controlled by the British…Nigerian Army was a select and (an) elite organisation, we had very few Army Officers at that time. I don’t think the whole Nigerian Army Officers were up to 50. You can imagine what it takes for you as a Nigerian to be one of those…and today, somebody will be accusing you that you don’t have a certificate.”

From NMTC, Muhammadu Buhari went to the Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, United Kingdom (1962-63), the Defence Services Staff College, India (1973) and thereafter, the United States Army War College, which upon completion, awarded each of its graduates a Master’s degree in strategic studies.

In the belief that the nation has the right to know the educational details of their president, Candidate Muhammadu Buhari laid bare everything and tendered an affidavit in respect of the WAEC certificate.

The masquerades wielding the real power behind the PDP, some of who played an active part in his overthrow as military head of state in the mid-eighties, are deliberate in keeping this issue alive. As a thoroughbred, toughened general, he won’t cry out that his home and office were vandalised by scoopers when they threw him out of power.

In meeting the eligibility for the contest in 2015, President Buhari 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.

With these, the unnecessary controversy should have ended. It is equally hard to fathom how such a dead issue should get the type of attention given it by the media, considering the many matters of serious concern to the citizens – internal security, which was given a short shrift for 16 years by the PDP; the diversification of the economy, involving the focusing on key sectors (apart from oil) that can create jobs and generate revenue such as agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing, which the Buhari administration is keenly doing. Also, the ongoing pursuit of more reforms and better governance; the bolstered efforts towards poverty alleviation; ending corruption and insurgency and ploughing the savings therefrom to put in place needed infrastructure and so forth.

Does the PDP know that the Nigeria Airways, NITEL and other pensioners they left in the cold and unpaid when they sold public assets to cronies or to themselves, are getting their dues under this dispensation? If these things had been done when the oil price was as high as US$140 per barrel, Nigeria would not be in its current predicament. We would not be suffering if we had no cash reserves but had regular supply of electricity, a good rail system, good roads and good housing. These are the issues dear to the hearts of our people.

In its political fight for 2019, the PDP is not relying on the big issues of the day – security, corruption and jobs but on small, distractive matters that take little or no account of national interest. But what do you expect of a group that has stopped thinking but is just blowing hot, toxic air, indulging in divisive politics and raking up sectional issues, so that the people will forget the real issues of corruption, infrastructure, security and economy for which they have no plans?

Garba Shehu is the senior special assistant to the president on Media and Publicity.