In 2014, the subject of President Buhari’s eligibility to contest as APC’s presidential candidate for the 2015 general election against former President Goodluck Jonathan sparked great tension as accusations were made based on the issues ranging from his age to his academic qualification.
As requested by law, one of the requirements to be submitted your academic credentials to the INEC but President Buhari only submitted an affidavit, stating that his academic qualification documents was with the military board.
Olajide Laleye, the Director of Army Public Relations as at then, replied that the Army did not have Buhari’s original, certified true copy or statement of results.
He was quoted saying, “Records available indicate that Buhari applied to join the military as a form six student of the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, on Oct. 18, 1961. His application was duly endorsed by the principal of the school, who also wrote a report on him and recommended him to be suitable for military commission.
“It is a practice in the Nigerian Army that before candidates are shortlisted for commissioning into the officers’ cadre of the service, the selection board verifies the original copies of credentials as presented. There is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s.”
The Army’s denial of having Buhari’s certificate sparked new litigations and suit against INEC, seeking that Buhari be disqualified from the race.
Buhari while in Kano in January 2015, addressed the issue of his certificate, stating that he sat and passed for the exams.
“Let me say for the record that I attended Provincial Secondary School, Katsina. I graduated in 1961 with many prominent Nigerians. We sat for the University of Cambridge/WASC Examination together in 1961, the year we graduated.
“My examination number was 8280002, and I passed the examination in the Second Division.”
But it looked like all became a forgone issue when he won the presidential election against Jonathan in 2015 before it came back again in 2018 when it was revealed that the president had, once again, provided a sworn affidavit in lieu of a certificate.
When PDP was busy fielding on Buhai’s inability to provide his academic qualifications, the presidency shook the entire nation when the President’s certificate suddenly materialized.
In a well-orchestrated event, the West African Examination Council (WAEC) led by Registrar of the Council, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae and other senior staff of the council of the council while on a State House to Presidential Villa in Abuja presented attestation certificate and confirmation of school certificate result to President Buhari.
The presented certificate caused frenzy among political pundits, comedians, politicians and Nigerians criticized the move to an extent that Buhari’s picture on the certificate became a meme but like all things within Nigeria, the scandals withered away till it died down and we moved on to the next new thing.
Before Buhari’s certificate came under scrutiny, his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan’s academic qualification had also been pieced apart and analyzed.
Like a salvo during the 2015 general election, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo hauled a bombshell that must have unsettled and rattled the leadership of the PDP and others who revered Jonathan and never ceased to laud him as the first doctoral degree holder to lead Nigeria.
According to THE PUNCH, Obasanjo was quoted saying, “Even Jonathan did not finish his PhD course but when it was presented, we stated that it does not matter but many people did not know because it was a PDP thing.”
Jonathan reportedly holds a BSc in Zoology with second class honours; an MSc in Hydrobiology and Fisheries Biology; and a PhD in Zoology, all from the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
His supporters felt Obasanjo was making desperate efforts to discredit the then president ahead of the 2015 presidential poll to ensure he would not win the election.
In a response to an inquiry by THE PUNCH, the university had dismissed such accusation as having “neither legs nor grounds to stand on.”
The institution, through its Deputy Registrar, William Wodi, had said concerning information on Jonathan’s qualifications, “We have absolutely nothing to hide as an institution that has a statutory mandate to advance the frontiers of knowledge.”
A civil society organisation, Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, also requested for Jonathan’s academic records through the Freedom of Information law.
In reply to the request, the university was quoted saying, “The Management of the university has carefully considered your request vis-a-vis the FOI Act. It is my instruction to inform you that your request does not come within the relevant provisions of the FOI Act for its practicability or for the university to provide such details as requested. Details of the PhD Degree of President Goodluck Jonathan in the University of Port Harcourt cannot therefore be made available to you.”
In 2017, when THE PUNCH had published a news story titled ‘Prominent Nigerians with certificate scandal’, Jonathan had said there is no justification for his inclusion.
Speaking through his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, Jonathan said his academic qualifications can be verified at the schools he attended.
The former president also noted that his classmates from primary school to the university were still alive to corroborate his attendance.
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