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The only certificate we seek

“It is not genius, nor glory, nor love that reflects the greatness of the human heart; it is kindness.” –Henri-Dominique Larcordaire, 19th century French preacher/writer…

“It is not genius, nor glory, nor love that reflects the greatness of the human heart; it is kindness.”

–Henri-Dominique Larcordaire, 19th century French preacher/writer

The one topic that dominated discussions in Nigeria’s commentariat over the last fortnight has been President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s university certificate.

His opponents believe it’s a clear case of forgery, because the certificate he claimed he obtained from Chicago State University, after having studied there for two years, wasn’t identical to the one the university was presenting to its graduates at the time.

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And of course, we all know how the issue of President Tinubu’s academic qualifications became a ‘frontline’ topic for our news outlets.

Nigeria’s former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, tenaciously followed up on his investigation of President Bola Tinubu’s educational qualifications as part of his legal battles to unseat the president. This is after failing to win his case against the February election result.

But President Tinubu’s team will not take this challenge lying down. They quickly jumped into the fray with their own trump card. And it is that Atiku Abubakar’s WASC result bears the name “Sadiq Abubakar” rather than “Atiku Abubakar” and demanded to know where the discrepancy arose.  

Soon after, another team, very likely from the presidency’s PR arsenal, came out with the claim that Peter Obi’s school certificate also has three names apart from Obi and Peter wasn’t one of them.

Atiku’s team, led by his spokesman Paul Ibe, has already released a statement explaining why their principal’s WASC result has Sadiq rather than Atiku as his first name.  

And they still insist that it is Tinubu who has a forgery case to answer.

Peter Obi’s team is yet to respond to the “name issues” on the presidential candidate’s educational documents.

But the key question here is: How does the ordinary Nigerian feel about this certificate forgery allegation against the president?

It might be safe to assume that he feels nothing. This is not because Nigerians do not value honesty or are immune to lack of integrity. It is to say that Nigerians have a lot on their plate to worry about forged certificates, forged birth dates, and non-existent families and schools, attributed to the current president.  

It is to say that with Boko Haram back with a vengeance, widespread abductions of farmers and students in both North East and North West, recurrent floods and the persistent inflation nationwide, we certainly have more to worry about than the president’s moral deficit.

Right now, he has opened our borders and agreed for certain items to be imported into the country in order to ease the scarcity created by the policies of the previous administration. But how far will this go in easing things up when another fuel price hike is said to be on the way?

We have witnessed two monumental hikes in the five months of this administration, can we survive another fuel price hike?

People like me are actually thinking it’s time the president had a re-think and pegged the fuel price at N200 per litre, pending when our refineries can be turned around to work at full capacity. I never thought that something worse than what we are going through was being cooked against us.

Like I said here some weeks ago, a rise in fuel price is the one thing guaranteed to affect every Nigerian, except the top political office holders who live off the fat of the land.

But the same government that believes in a continuous rise in fuel price, not minding the pain and agony of its citizens, is also the same one budgeting huge amounts for unnecessary things like brand new cars for legislators and similar luxury pursuits.

How can we applaud such insensitivity and lack of empathy?

Therefore, the only certificate we Nigerians really seek from any president is that of concern and kindness. We want our worries to be his worries, our priorities to be his priorities and our pains to be his pains.

And this is why neither Atiku nor Obi will win our sympathy. They both had, as part of their campaign promises, the plan to remove fuel subsidy. Which means if either of them had made it to the presidency, we would still be in the current mess we are in.

So, while they continue to battle each other over who forged what and who should lose office over it, let them know that Nigerians won’t care a hoot over their losses.

It is how they treat us that will matter to us and the generations to come. Their academic qualifications, real or forged, will not matter to us in the long run.

Some of the legacies we’ve inherited from the First and Second Republics, as well as under military rule, were achieved by leaders who did not even have first degrees.  

Yet the first PhD holder to lead Nigeria had “clueless” as his middle name.

If it’s a chain of degrees that ensures a good and people-oriented government, then Dr Jonathan’s five years in office would have been the best in our nation’s history. But we all know they weren’t anywhere close.

So, with statistics showing that over 60 per cent of Nigerians are now living below the poverty line, our president and his opponents should know that their school certificate sagas are only their headache; the only thing that concerns us is their certificate of conscientiousness and good governance.


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