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All Progressives Congress candidate for Ngor Okpala and Aboh Mbaise Federal Constituency Imo state, Matthew Nwogu and the party's Imo Governorship and presidential candidates in the forthcoming election, Owelle Rochas Okorocha and General Muhammadu Buhari seem to have something in common: certificate strangeness and incongruity

Then witness this. On all his posters lined conspicuously in all the parts of Aboh Mbaise and Ngor Okpala, Nwogu indicated that he is an attorney and a doctor. This is indeed instantly verifiable as his posters are currently common sights.

Now witness the absurdity and inconsistency. While filing his Independent National Electoral Commission forms as a prerequisite to run for the House of Representatives he indicated that his highest academic qualification is West African School Certificate (WASC). His long established academic qualification claims which he replicated on his posters of being a trained attorney and a doctor vanished on the altar of INEC form.

This information is contained on INEC's website which published names and qualifications of candidates running for different elective positions in the 2015 general elections. The publication signed by Mrs Augusta Ogakwu, Secretary, INEC was posted on 13th January, 2015

Similarly, Governor Okorocha has made several inconsistent claims about his academic qualifications and the institutions he attended. He has not only claimed to have finished his first degree from the University of Jos; he has told those who care to listen that he has a degree in law.

On the current INEC website he claimed to have just masters without specifying correctly and fittingly whether it is Masters of Science (MSC) or Masters of Arts (MA) or even Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and so on. His Deputy and co-traveler, Eze Madumere is interestingly sincere enough to fill on INEC form that his highest qualification is First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC), meaning that he did not attend secondary school

This obvious irregularity has spawned increasing doubts about Okorocha's qualifications and eligibility to rule Imo. Not a few Imolites have raised a big question mark on his qualification. His opponent in People's Democratic Party (PDP) Rt Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has on several occasions raised doubts about Okorocha's qualifications, challenging him to produce his academic certificate and to name some of those who were his classmates at least at secondary and University levels.

Okorocha's response to Ihedioha's weighty challenge has been weak and at best begging the issue. He had told Ihedioha and the entire Imo people that at the appropriate time he would produce his certificates and name his classmates. And the question many have asked is: which time is more apt and appropriate to provide incontrovertible clarifications than now Imolites are going to the polls to elect the person who will rule them in the next four years.

Akin to Nwogu and Okorocha, General Muhammadu Buhari who is APC's presidential flag bearer has a related and bizarre case. His West African School certificate has remained a huge source of contention across the nation, putting Buhari's candidature at jeopardy

As at today there are four sides and even more to Buhari's certificate saga. The first was told by those who insist Buhari does not have WASC. The second side of the story was told by Buhari defenders who have maintained that Buhari has WASC but lost it to crisis. The third side came from Buhari himself who stated that the certificate was with Military Board and later contradicted that his school, Katsina College had furnished him with his certificate and later that INEC was in possession of his result

Directorate of Information, Army Defence Headquarters that provided what appears to be a much more credible account of the situation clarified that Buhari does not have any WAEC result in his military file. Rather what the Army found in his file was a letter from his former principal recommending him in 1961 for military enlistment based on his physical fitness and was accordingly enlisted.

Reacting to Buhari's contradictory statements over the certificate controversy senior special assistant to President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okukpe noted: “we consider this un- statesmanlike assault on the intelligence of Nigerians and it represents the greatest challenge between General Buhari and the office he seeks to occupy

“It will be recalled that Buhari has in the last few weeks domiciled the custody of his secondary school certificate in three different quarters namely the Military Board, his former school and now INEC. Unfortunately for APC candidate, the examination body, WAEC, which has the final say on the issue, has also recently declared that it does not have any records of Buhari's result just as the military authorities did”

Nigerian lawyers are not taking the matter unconscientiously. They have forged a united front to confront Buhari legally. They have headed for the court seeking in the main the disqualification of the APC candidate from the presidential race.

The lawyers and Okupe are right. It is a long established axiom that he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. In other words, he who must seek the people's mandate and hoping to get that legitimacy must first of all be credible, candid, balanced, and far more significantly pass reliability and integrity tests. These APC candidates have indeed failed these basic tests of legitimacy

Agreed that Matthew Nwogu and Owelle Rochas Okorocha may have obtained the minimum qualification of WASC required by the INEC Act to be House member or Governor but why should these people seeking to lead us be claiming certificates they don't possess which thus border on character, public trust and integrity. It is incontrovertible that our fledgling democracy is gradually getting consolidated while the electorate is becoming increasingly critical and responsive to vote out those who lack the character and uprightness to lead the envisioned new Imo and Nigeria.

Written by Dr Uganwa.

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