“We have to take an interest in the quality of our leaders and representatives in the level of education. If you look around this country at many levels of leadership, we have elected and we have chosen to elect people who do not have education. And because they are not educated, they cannot give education” —Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II
I must say it is not all the time I am in bed with the views of the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, but I can’t deny him the glory that he shoots straight without minding whose ox is gored. He has carved that niche for himself over the years as one gentleman who is not scared to say his mind whenever he feels strongly on any issue.
That his uncommon candour was on display when he spoke recently at the sixth convocation of Nile University, Abuja.
The Emir pointedly told Nigeria its education is worth nothing today because it has embraced Boko Haram (Western education is sin) in its leadership selection process.
Our country whose education system was so attractive to citizens of other African countries and even American and European nationals in the past, today produces graduates who may not be able to write their names correctly, even if it’s a condition to save their own lives. It would have been the ninth wonder of the world if our outcome had been different as that ancient wisdom remains constant and true: “as you make your bed, so you lie on it.”
A nation that recruits its leaders from among the rest cannot be among the best was the Emir of Kano’s message which sums up the dysfunctional state of Nigeria today.
It is heart-wrenching to recall the days we had leaders like Awo, Zik and Ahmadu Bello who wore knowledge like wristwatch. There is no way you will not be proud to be a Nigerian when you see the video of Sir Tafawa Balewa’s visit to the United States of America on July 25 to 28 of I961. He walked with confidence and spoke impeccable English as he held his audience spell-bound with his masterly delivery. It was a great moment for Nigeria.
Today we have dropped from that pedestal to the lowest of low where it is an embarrassment watching our leaders speak in public and fumbling through prepared speeches in inaudible diction and unpardonable gaffes. There has been a vertical link between the death of intellect in our polity and the dearth of knowledgeable leaders in our country.
There is no better attestation to the tragedy that has befallen our country than the fact that the three most important men in the ruling party in our country today are united in one affliction: questionable and doubtful credentials.
Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the national leader of the APC. In 1999, one Dr Waliu Balogun had written a petition against Tinubu that he did not attend Chicago State University as indicated in his INEC Form 001 filled when he contested the Lagos State governorship poll and that he also lied in the affidavit he attached to the INEC form, in which he declared that he lost his university degree certificate while he was in exile between 1994 and 1998.
Balogun’s other complaints included accusations that Tinubu’s claim of attending Government College, Ibadan, was false and that he lied in the INEC form about his age – that he was born in 1952 as against the 1954 he filled in the documents at the Chicago University. Tinubu was also accused of not participating in the compulsory one-year NYSC exercise.
Generating a lot of controversy, Tinubu was forced to present what he called original copy of his certificate while he dismissed the allegations as “baseless, wicked and unfortunate.”
But firebrand lawyer and human rights activist, Gani Fawehinmi, went to court to compel the Inspector-General of Police to investigate Tinubu. The Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that the IGP should investigate him when he is shorn of immunity. Gani did not follow up the matter when Tinubu left office, partly due to ill health.
By the time Dr Dominic Adegbola brought up the matter in 2013, Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court dismissed the application filed by him seeking to reopen the suit initially instituted by the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi in 1999.
“This matter is grossly out of time and the prayer sought cannot be granted,” the judge ruled.
His complaint was in respect of the contents of form F001 of the Independent National Electoral Commission, concerning a certificate allegedly sworn to by Tinubu, during the election that won him the governorship ticket.
In a 15-paragraph verifying affidavit, the applicant deposed that Tinubu claimed to have attended St. Paul’s School, Aroloya, Lagos, which never existed.
He also averred that Tinubu allegedly claimed to have attended Government College, Ibadan between 1965 and 1968, a claim which the authorities and Old Boys Association of Government College, Ibadan, debunked as false.
Other areas of complaint by the applicant included the alleged claim of Tinubu in the INEC form that he attended Richard Daley College, Chicago, between 1969 and 1971, which he also alleged was false.
Adegbola also averred that the claim of Tinubu that he attended the University of Chicago in the US between 1972 and 1976 and obtained a B.Sc degree in Economics from the same university was misleading.
Tinubu dedicated his “victory” in the scandal to the current vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, at the launch of a book in honour of the silk in Lagos in 2012.
“Osinbajo brought his knowledge of constitutional law and stood by me even at the time when some of my commissioners were planning to resign from the cabinet. He indulged my politics and allowed it to flourish in the face of detractors,” he said.
Adams Oshiomhole is the national chairman of APC. It was General Charles Airhiavbere who challenged his re-election as a governor in 2012 on the basis of certificate forgery and perjury. He alleged that the elementary school Oshiomhole claimed to have attended was not in existence at that time. He also claimed that the governor tendered a fake certificate on oath to INEC from Blessed Martins Modern Secondary School from which he dropped out, which, going by a constitutional provision, does not qualify him to contest the election.
Oshiomhole claimed to have attended Iyamoh Primary School, Iyamoh, in the then Midwest state from 1957 to 1962, his claim is contrary to an investigation by the Edo State Ministry of Education which revealed that Iyamoh Primary School was founded in 1963, a year after the governor said he graduated from it. His name is said not to be in the class register nor among the graduated class of the Blessed Martins Secondary Modern School that he claimed to have graduated from in 1965. If he was born in 1953 and graduated from a secondary school in 1965, as declared under oath, could it be correct that he completed secondary school at the age of 12?
Curiously, the name on Oshiomhole’s primary and secondary school certificates simply bore Adams Aliyu and his Ahmadu Bello University Adult Education certificate submitted to INEC bore Adams O. Aliyu, while subsequent certificates bore his current name Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. This disconnect in his names was made evident when the comrade governor in a handwritten affidavit that he personally deposed to INEC, stated that he had no previous names other than Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole. The discrepancy in Oshiomhole’s stated dates, names and schools belie the veracity of his claim and may be considered as perjury.
The Supreme Court eventually gave Oshiomhole a technical respite, set aside the ruling of the Court of Appeal, which ordered the Edo State Elections Petitions Tribunal to hear afresh the certificate scandal which it dismissed as pre-election matter.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour, who read the Supreme Court judgment, said the Court of Appeal erred in its ruling as the Edo elections petitions tribunal, which earlier struck out the paragraphs relating to non-qualification, was correct in doing so.
The Supreme Court maintained that the respondent, Major General Charles Airhiavbere, made an unpardonable blunder of not including the ground of non-qualification in the original pleadings at the tribunal.
The apex court maintained that the court is not a Father Christmas that dishes out what is not asked for and that a party is bound by his pleadings.
General Muhammadu Buhari is incumbent President and APC candidate for the 2019 elections. He was ensnared in a controversy in 2014 when he submitted an affidavit to INEC that his credentials were with the military. The army promptly denied being in possession of such. The matter moved to the courtroom where order was sought to disqualify him. A battery of SANs deployed all technicalities in their books to get reprieve and he went on to win the elections.
Four years after, the president is back in INEC with affidavit that his credentials are still with the military which denied it ever had such. The president’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, became the mouthpiece of the army and said the body has lost the credentials of the president.
Few days after the claim, WAEC Nigeria did some home delivery service at the Villa, bringing some attestation to Mr President. Rather than resolve the issue, this has raised more controversies as the Head Office of WAEC in Ghana had, in a response to an inquiry by Move on Nigeria in 2015, emphatically stated it had no records of examinations taken by any “Mohammed Buhari in 1961.”
Besides, the attestation graded the president in A3, C6, P7 when gradings in 1961 was from 1 to 9. Irrefutable evidence has also come out that attestation from WAEC usually bear “original certificate number.” This column has “NA” (Not Available) in what one mischievous Nigerian has called “Honorary WASC” presented to Mr President.
And, as if all these were not enough, Garba Shehu made an odious claim that the home delivery was an initiative of WAEC while the examinations body has countered that only Buhari or the court can ask for the certificate. They issued because he asked for it.
When the three APC musketeers meet in the Villa today, giving education to the country will not top the agenda but convincing “fellow Nigerians” about doubtful education they claim. The true meaning of the Emir’s statement.
…..Bami Awolowo, Iba!
In making this debut, I must salute the legendary and visionary Chief Obafemi Awolowo who established the oldest surviving independent newspaper in Nigeria in 1949.
Even when we miss his physical presence, his numerous ground-breaking achievements shall be in the book of remembrance for generations yet unborn as they define the true essence of a Titan. His moral grandeur remains our shade.
Awo remains our standard and he puts us to shame when we look around today and see base and empty men we have unwittingly surrendered leadership to around us, messing up a people’s destiny on the evil altar of greed and avarice.
What would our lives have been if what we have now has always defined us?
Mojuba, e je ko jumi se!