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  • Nigeria’s 2019 presidential election has ended, but the contest is ongoing at the tribunal. Politics is a mean
    game - and politicians devise every means to win. That ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar is challenging the
    result doesn’t mean he won. He may have indeed lose and still be imploring the tribunal to return him elected.
    In the same vein, President Muhammadu Buhari’s insistence that he won doesn’t mean he actually did. He may
    have robbed Atiku and still be persuading the tribunal to pronounce him validly elected. Aside determining who
    really won, two major issues are before the tribunal: Atiku’s citizenship determination and Buhari’s certificate
    The suits are distinct. Deciding when and where to be born is beyond Atiku’s control, but Buhari could have
    averted the certificate controversy if he had devoted time to education. Atiku would be suffering for an action
    taking by the colonialist, if the court rules that he is not a Nigerian, but Cameroonian. The genesis of Atiku’s
    citizenship case is the 1884 scramble for, and partition of Africa. His citizenship may not have been a subject of
    litigation, if the western nations had not partitioned Africa. The tribunal thus has an unenviable task of
    determining Atiku’s eligibility to contest for president, on account of the West’s adjustment of his ancestral
    boundary, before he was born.
    The testimonies and evidences presented at the tribunal revived Buhari’s certificate controversy which started in
    2014. Buhari’s witness, Major-Gen. Paul Tarfa (retd) avowed that the Army never collected the certificate of
    the 1962 course officers during recruitment, as earlier claimed by Buhari. This landmark confession revealed
    Buhari’s claim that his certificate is with the military in 2014 is untruth. Nigerians thought then President
    Goodluck Jonathan ordered the military to withhold Buhari’s certificate in order to disqualify him for
    contesting. Suspicion brew after Buhari won the election and still couldn’t present his certificate, despite being
    the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The certificate-with-the-military excuse became untenable.
    Buhari did not attach his certificate to the 2019 presidential nomination form, as lawfully required. To make
    amends, Abba Kyari, the Chief-of-Staff to the President tendered the president’s Cambridge assessment
    international education certified statement of West African School Certificate (WASC). Kyari claimed he
    personally signed and collected the document on behalf of Buhari. Atiku’s counsel argued during cross
    examination that colleges don’t release certificate to third parties. This assertion is untrue. Colleges do release

    certificate to third party on the instruction of the graduate, but certain conditions must be met. Such includes,
    but not limited to: a letter from the graduate indicating that his/her certificate be released to a third party; and
    such party must provide a valid form of identification.
    To strengthen his defense, Buhari brought in Oshindehinde Adewunmi, the Deputy Registrar of the West
    African Examination Council (WAEC) in Nigeria to lead evidence in support of the document Kyari tendered.
    This unfortunately did more harm than good. When shown the document Kyari claimed to have collected on
    Buhari’s behalf, Adewunmi stated that the document is not a WAEC certificate, and he has never worked for
    the body that issued it. The witness said he cannot affirm the authenticity of the document because it does not
    bear his signature.
    A comparison of the two documents Buhari presented – the Cambridge certified statement of WASC and the
    1961 result sheet of the Provincial Secondary School Katsina – revealed some inconsistencies. One stated that
    Buhari sat for eight subjects, while the other stated he sat for six. The name on one is ‘Mohamed’ while the
    other is ‘Muhammadu’, although Buhari’s witness stressed that both names have the same meaning and are
    interchangeably used in Islam.
    The discrepancies in the documents is making people opine Buhari would lose the case. Their argument is
    premised on Section 131 of the constitution, which states that ‘any contestant for the position of president of the
    country must have a minimum qualification of School Certificate or its equivalent’. However, they fail to take
    cognizance that Section 318 (1c) stated that ‘anyone with primary school certificate who has served in the
    Nigerian public or private sector, in any capacity, for a minimum of ten years is deemed to have the equivalent
    of a school certificate’. Buhari is thus qualified to contest and be president having served in the Army for over
    ten years. That however opens the door to new arguments.
    The tribunal can only sack Buhari if his years of military service, which makes him qualify to be president
    under Section 318 (1c) is declared void. If Buhari joined the military with inadequate qualification, could his
    years of service be declared void? If Buhari was recruited into the military without a certificate and was not
    given a duration to produce it, who should be blamed? Buhari or the military? In any case, would it be fair to
    make Buhari suffer for the wrongs of the military recruitment board as the Supreme Court did to Ademola
    Adeleke in Osun?
    The litigations and embarrassment the certificate scandal has brought upon Buhari could have been avoided if
    he had dedicated some time to scholarship. He had enough time to acquire more qualifications after General
    Ibrahim Babangida toppled his military regime in 1983. Retired General Olusegun Obasanjo -- Buhari’s senior
    in age and in the military -- bagged a Bachelor and Doctorate after he left office as President in 1999. Buhari is
    not an accidental president. His three unsuccessful race for the nation’s top job, cumulatively 12 years of aiming
    for president, is enough for him to have bagged a diploma or degree.
    Buhari was yearning to lead but failed to prepare for leadership. This showed in his six-month late appointment
    of ministers in 2015. It is also manifesting in his abysmal performance and mishandling of sensitive national
    issues. His lack of ideas, narrow-mindedness and sectionalism is disintegrating the country and hampering
    growth. He has given little for every much expected. One cannot, in fairness, totally attribute Buhari’s
    shortcomings to insufficient education. The government of his predecessor who holds a doctorate was a colossal
    Nonetheless, that Goodluck Jonathan failed doesn’t mean Buhari should. Buhari’s underperformance hinge on
    his apologists cheering of wrongs. Justifying Buhari’s failure to get educated is moronic. Many of those
    defending him severely punish their children for not scoring ‘A’. They want their children to earn higher
    degrees, but passionately defend a president with a controversial certificate. Some of these apologists demand

    for Bachelor’s degree, National Youth Service Corps certificate, and five years working experience before they
    can hire and pay 70,000 Naira (about $200) per month. Such a brazen show of double standard is galling.
    Sections 131 and 318 of the 1999 constitution needs to be amended. The framers made it possible for anyone to
    be president, so long as they can “read, write, understand and communicate in English language to the
    satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission”. The best may never get to lead the rest if the
    constitution is not amended. The less educated ones would continue to govern; appointing and issuing directives
    to professors. Nigerian leaders, many of whom are not so educated, controls the resources and earn huge, while
    the professors and citizens earn peanuts. The professors that should be ruling the less educated are the ones
    conducting elections to bring them to power.
    Nigerian education needs oxygen. The struggle to make ends meet has turned many professors to political job
    seekers and errand boy. High fees, vast unemployment, and inadequate reward for academic excellence is
    discouraging people from becoming educated. A friend once said “education is the master key” and “Bata re a
    dun kokoka” loosely translated “you would wear the best shoes if you’re educated” inspired many to invest in
    education, but they’ve gained nothing. Politicians and political thugs are the ones wearing the best shoes.
    Everyone must endeavor to be educated despite the challenges and discouragements. Buhari and Osun state
    former governorship candidate, Ademola Adeleke’s ordeal is a strong lesson that the education you fail to
    acquire may be all you need to win tomorrow.
    Things are turning around for the good of the educated. Education is changing the game. Faster than anyone
    imagined. The educated ones are bringing innovation to businesses and taking over the jobs from the
    uneducated. Booking taxi through apps is gradually gobbling the job of the uneducated drivers. Many people
    view education has the ticket to working in an office, dressing corporate. No. Education ideally gives you a
    knowledge of the world around you and the skill to do things in a better way.
    The case of Wunmi comes to mind. Wunmi is a female university graduate who studied mass communication,
    but earns a living from furnishing homes. She uploads furniture pictures on e-commerce platforms and contract
    artisans to produce them when she has order. The artisans’ inability to open and manage an e-commerce store is
    fetching Wunmi money. She wouldn’t have been an intermediary if the artisans are educated. She is earning
    huge, thriving and expanding, while the uneducated artisans are earning less. That’s the power of education.
    Buhari, Adeleke, and Wunmi are lessons. Learn.
    *Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via

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