APC AND THE 'SETTLED' ISSUE OF BUHARI'S CERTIFICATE
The dismissive manner with which Lai Mohammed, the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, sat on Channels Television on Thursday, January 22, 2015, and told Nigerians that the issue of General Muhammadu Buhari's West African School Certificate (WASC) is now a “settled matter” was amazing. Equally stunning was his arrogance and intolerance of anyone, including Senior Advocates of Nigeria, whose views on the topic of Buhari's certificate did not coincide with his. At the end of Lai Mohammed's appearance on that day's edition of the Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, all one could say was, “Incredible!”
Lai Mohammed's attitude, which seemed to equate the insistence by the Peoples Democratic Party that General Buhari should produce his WASC with the peskiness of a mosquito, was so hard to believe because during the course of the TV programme it became clear that he and, by extension, the leadership of the APC are out of touch with the feelings of many Nigerians on the Buhari certificate issue.
For the APC presidential candidate himself, who has built his entire campaign around his integrity, to fail the basic requisite condition to occupy the office which he seeks, and to then turn around to make a muddle of things with weak explanations and the release of a questionable brand new statement of result, is a scandal of huge proportions. And for Lai Mohammed to then go on air and declare the matter “settled” betrays the deep disregard and contempt that the APC leadership has for Nigerians.
Since Lai Mohammed, the APC leadership, and General Buhari himself appear oblivious of the enormity of this scandal, it is important that the errors of their ways be pointed out to them as patiently as possible.
To begin with, the basis of Buhari's eligibility to enlist in the Army was the same WASC Nigerians would now like to see. That Buhari did not have such a certificate at the time he applied to join the Army is no longer in contention. Indeed, the endorsement written by the then principal of Katsina Provincial School stated: “I recommend Mohammed Buhari for consideration as a Potential Officer. I consider that Mohammed Buhari will pass West African School Certificate with Credits in English, Maths and three other subjects.”
The above testimonial, which may have seemed glowing when it was written in 1961, is the finishing blow to this matter as it confirms beyond any doubt that Buhari was not eligible to enlist in the Army. As several eminent lawyers have pointed out, there is an age-long legal principle which is rendered in Latin as Ex, nihilo nihil fit, meaning “out of nothing, nothing [be] comes.”
The implication therefore is that Lai Mohammed can wax lyrical about the military schools and courses Buhari attended and the diplomas he obtained for as long as he likes and it will still amount to nothing, simply because Buhari was never eligible to attend the schools and courses in the first place. And for Buhari himself to imply that the discrepancies surrounding his WASC is a distraction is to dishonour his claim of being the “Mr Integrity” of Nigeria's politics.
Moreover, Nigerians can take it for granted that if President Goodluck Jonathan was the one caught in a certificate scandal Lai Mohammed and the APC leadership would have hounded Jonathan all the way back to Otuoke, Bayelsa State, if not a maximum security prison. Lai Mohammed would have been on every media channel in Nigeria and even beyond; he would have issued several press statements every single day demanding not only the President's resignation but his prosecution. So, for Lai Mohammed to dismiss Buhari's certificate scandal like the inconsequential buzzing of a tiny mosquito is hypocritical to say the least.
In any case, as Lai Mohammed must be aware, the buzz of a tiny mosquito may indeed be inconsequential but the mosquito's bite is certainly not without consequence. Apart from the immediate pain often inflicted on the victim when a tiny mosquito bites, a single bite may, in due course, result in malaria. And while malaria is curable, every Nigerian, including Lai Mohammed, the APC leadership, and General Buhari, knows well enough that malaria is not something to be toyed with. By extension, every Nigerian knows not to toy with mosquito.
In conclusion, Lai Mohammed and the APC leadership may carry on with the self-delusion that Buhari's certificate scandal is a “settled matter,” but for the rest of Nigeria the matter is anything but settled. If the APC does not do the honourable thing and withdraw General Buhari from a contest that he has not met the basic requirement to participate in, they will discover that their dismissive attitude and contempt for Nigerians will have severe consequences in due course.
Written by Johnson Momodu.