In the midst of a rapidly approaching 2023 presidential election in Nigeria, a contentious debate has emerged regarding the authenticity of the academic certificate presented by President Bola Tinubu to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The controversy has sparked heated exchanges between the Presidency and former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s camp. While this dispute continues to make headlines, it is imperative to examine the facts and implications surrounding the issue.
The Presidency’s Position
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Temitope Ajayi, vehemently denies claims that President Tinubu’s certificate is forged. According to Ajayi, Chicago State University (CSU) did not cast doubt on the authenticity of the certificate Tinubu submitted to INEC in its deposition. Instead, CSU affirmed under oath that Tinubu attended and graduated from the institution. Moreover, Ajayi asserted that the university is not responsible for replacing lost certificates.
In a passionate defense of the President, Ajayi took to social media, stating, “We should be clear. In the deposition made by the Chicago State University, there was nowhere the University said the certificate presented to INEC by President Tinubu is fake. The University insisted under oath that President Tinubu graduated with honors, and even at that, replacements for lost certificates are done by vendors, not the University.”
Ajayi further challenged the notion that a person can forge a certificate they already possess, emphasizing, “The claim that President Tinubu submitted a fake certificate to INEC does not make sense. A man cannot forge the academic records he possesses. You can only forge what you don’t have.”
Foreign Affairs Minister’s Perspective
In contrast to the claims made by President Tinubu’s camp, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, dismissed the controversy as a distraction. Tuggar argued that the administration does not have time to waste on “trivial matters.” He cited former President Muhammadu Buhari’s similar experience of facing scrutiny over his academic qualifications and suggested that such controversies are a common distraction in Nigerian politics.
Tuggar highlighted that international leaders and organizations have shown little interest in the issue, emphasizing the importance of focusing on national development amid the challenges the country faces.
“The foreign leaders that we’ve been engaging and the international organizations clearly are disinterested in wasting time on such. We pay no mind to that,” Tuggar stated.
Paul Ibe, Special Adviser to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, strongly disagreed with Tuggar’s dismissal of the controversy. He deemed Tuggar’s comments “irresponsible and shameful,” and questioned whether Tuggar was validating forgery and perjury.
Regarding President Tinubu’s alleged forgery of his academic records, Ibe indicated that the matter might be taken to the Supreme Court. He stated, “That is up to the lawyers. I am sure they are working on that.”
The Implications for Nigeria’s Image
The Labour Party expressed concern over the ongoing controversy surrounding President Tinubu’s academic records. According to the National Publicity Secretary of the LP, Obiora Ifoh, this issue extends beyond the debate of whether or not the President attended Chicago State University. It raises questions about the message Nigeria is sending to the rest of the world.
Ifoh emphasized the need to wait for the Supreme Court’s final pronouncement on the matter before drawing conclusions. He stated, “We will wait for the Supreme Court to make its final pronouncement on the matter. We will take it from there.”
The dispute over President Bola Tinubu’s academic certificate has become a focal point in the lead-up to the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria. While the Presidency vehemently asserts the authenticity of the certificate, opposing voices, including that of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the Labour Party, continue to challenge its legitimacy.
As the nation awaits the Supreme Court’s verdict on this matter, it is essential to remember that the outcome will not only affect the President but also have broader implications for Nigeria’s image on the international stage.
In the midst of this controversy, it is crucial for Nigerians to remain focused on the nation’s pressing issues, such as development and economic challenges. Regardless of the outcome, Nigeria’s growth and prosperity remain paramount.