Like a moth to a flame, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC presidential flagbearer, has attracted controversies and roused people’s suspicion with regards to his presidential ambition following his inability to show the members of the public, whom he intends to govern in case he emerges victorious in the forthcoming presidential general election, his certificates.
Tinubu who won APC’s presidential primaries and the flagbearer of the party has been in the eye of the storm since last week following his declaration to the INEC that his certificates were “carted away” during Abacha’s regime during his self-imposed exile.
The former governor of Lagos State noted that he has two degrees from two American universities (Richard Daley College and Chicago State University).
However, he strangely claimed that his certificates were stolen by some unknown hoodlums when he was away from the country in the 1990s.
INEC released the documents where Tinubu claimed to have attended University of Chicago between 1972 and 1976, where he obtained a B.Sc. in Economics. He equally stated that he had B.Sc. in Business and Administration in 1979, as well as a certificate in Public Account.
But he meticulously skipped areas where information regarding his primary and secondary education were requested.
“I went on self-exile from October, 1994 to October, 1998. When I returned I discovered that all my property, including all the documents relating to my qualifications and my certificates in respect of paragraph three above, were looted by unknown persons.
“My house was the target of a series of searches by various security agents from the time the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was forced to adjourn, following the military takeover of government on 17th November, 1993.
“I was the chairman of the Senate committee on appropriation, banking and finance. I was also a plaintiff in one of the two suits against the interim national government in 1993. I went on exile when it became clear to me that my life was in danger”, Tinubu told INEC.
However, his inability to submit his primary and secondary school certificates weren’t the bone of contention that whipped up the public outrage. But, his inconsistency.
In 1999, when he was vying for the post of Lagos State governor following the return of civil rule, Tinubu was reported to have claimed that he attended St Paul Children’s Home School, Ibadan between 1958 to 1964 and also claimed to have attended Government College Ibadan between 1965 to 1968.
Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) vs Tinubu
This isn’t the first time Tinubu will be bisected by controversies vis-a-vis his academic qualifications.
In 1999, some notable media organizations in the country had published a petition against Tinubu that he lied and manipulated the credentials he submitted to INEC before the 1999 election.
Following the petitions by the media organizations, the late legal luminary and Gani Fawehinmi initiated a litigation, which eventually bit the dust, against Tinubu over certificate forgery and perjury.
The litigation was ultimately repugned by the Supreme Court on the technical grounds that Tinubu was protected from prosecution as a serving governor.
The court then made it clear that only the State House of Assembly had the constitutional authority to probe the alleged impropriety.
House of Assembly’s Investigation
Consequently, the House of Assembly on September 21, 1999 set up a five-member ad hoc committee to look into the allegations.
The members of the committee included: Babajide Omoworare, Saliu Mustapha, Adeniyi Akinmade, Ibrahim Gbamijo and Thomas Fadeyi.
After some investigations into the controversy, Tinubu showed up before the committee members with his legal counsel, Femi Falana.
Tinubu explained that the information contained in the INEC form was not supplied by him, but by Tokunbo Afikuyomi. Hence, the “needless mistake” wasn’t from him.
According to the reports from the committee, “The governor told the Committee that as a result of the acrimonious primaries of the Alliance for Democracy in Lagos State and its attendant crisis, the information contained in both the INEC form and affidavit of loss of certificates was supplied by Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi.
“The governor then submitted to the Committee a copy of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) senatorial candidate form dated June 1, 1992, which he used to contest the 1992 senatorial election as candidate of the party for Lagos West. In the form, which he personally filled, the governor attached the certificates of Richard Daley College and Chicago State University. For his educational qualifications he filled B.Sc Accounting only.
‘This, according to him, demonstrated that “needless errors” spotted in the 1999 INEC form were not consistent and that they were ‘genuine errors’. He further directed the attention of the committee to the INEC form CFO1 that bore a wrong date of twenty-eight December 1999 instead of twenty-eight December 1998. The error he said was made by INEC which printed the form. And not even the Commissioner of Oath detected the error. This in his view further confirmed that the hurried and confused manner under which the preparations for the governorship primaries of 1998 were given room to error on all sides.”
Attending university without secondary school?
Despite the fact that Tinubu asserted that the claim that he attended St Paul Children’s Home School, Ibadan and Government College Ibadan was a “needless error” from the person who filled his form for him in 1999 when he was running for the position of governor of Lagos State, Nigerians continue to demand for his primary and secondary educational background.
They continue to ask for his neck and are hellbent on putting his neck into political guillotine and end his political “career”.
But if Tinubu didn’t attend secondary school (at least, he said he finished primary school, but couldn’t continue with secondary school as a result of his parents’ financial impuissance), how did he get a university degree?
According to our research, we discovered that you can get a university degree in the United States if you are not fortunate enough to attend secondary school.
According to Professor Farooq Kperogi, a high school diploma is not a prerequisite for getting into a college/university in the United States.
“Contrary to what some people are saying, you don’t need a high school diploma to get admission to a college in the US.
You can present scores from the General Educational Development (GED) tests (which is a test that adults who didn’t attend or complete high school take) in place of a secondary school certificate. It’s similar to Nigeria’s ‘external GCE’”, he wrote on his Facebook page.
Could Tinubu have gotten admission into Chicago State University through GED? If that’s the route he took as a result of his inability to go to a secondary school because of his parents’ financial weakness, why is Tinubu finding it difficult to say it in the public?
In addition to that, if he attended a primary school, which primary school did he attend? Why is it difficult to state those things and put an end to the needless controversies besieging his aspiration?
Drawing a veil over his primary and secondary academic background will further reinforce and give comfort to the belief people hold against him that “his life odyssey is shrouded in mystery” and that everything about him is “shady”.
As politicking becomes superheated, Tinubu should expect more critical public scrutinies (other candidates alike) and develop a thick skin because his antagonists and traducers will use the chinks in his armor against him as we gravitate towards 2023 presidential election.