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Tinubu: Where did he obtain his certificate?

The trending saga in respect of questions over the certificate issued to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu by the Chicago State University (CSU) on his graduation…

The trending saga in respect of questions over the certificate issued to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu by the Chicago State University (CSU) on his graduation from the school in 1979, seems to have come to another head recently. That was with the deposition in the US last week, by the Registrar of CSU Mr Caleb Westberg, in which he disowned the certificate tendered by Tinubu to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 2023 presidential polls, as it was different from the original one issued by the school.

This came to be, following the compliance by the CSU with a US Court order that the institution should release Tinubu’s certificate to Abubakar Atiku the Presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 presidential polls, who had prayed the court earlier for such a relief.

Incidentally, while many had zeroed in on Atiku’s motive to be his interest in   stretching his legal matter so far, he has debunked such a notion, claiming that his enterprise is not about his ambition. Rather, he claimed in a recent press conference that rectitude in the country’s body politik, remains his concern. That contemplation is at least for now a matter for another day.

Meanwhile, as things stand there are two different certificates purportedly from the same school, for the same person – Tinubu, and for the same course of study. The one which was submitted to INEC is not known to the purported issuing school – CSU according to its Registrar Mr Caleb Westberg. This raises the question of its source which is ‘where did Tinubu get the document’?

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Was it from the infamous ‘Oluwole’ forgery mill which is adjacent to Tinubu Square in Central Lagos? As is popular knowledge, the said Oluwole Street in Lagos is one enclave that parades the dubious stigma of serving as the headquarters of document forgery in Nigeria. Forging of legal instruments such as bank cheque books and sundry business as well as financial instruments, school certificates of all types, examination papers, marriage certificates, travel documents and in all likelihood currency notes, is fair game in the place, with the nefarious practices even upgraded by the arrival of the more potent, latter day, IT empowered forgers and hackers.

As it is, the Tinubu situation has deepened the divide of the country over his the certificate saga. Until the deposition by the CSU Registrar the matter of authenticity of Tinubu’s certificate was trending in the terrain of conjecture with many of his supporters hoping to be saved from the disturbing eventuality that the insinuations of sleaze associated with his certificate saga, would not actualise.   That state of limbo, however, ended with the clarification by CSU, leaving the matter now at the disposal of the Nigerian public to make hay or dross out of it.

And the public follow-up to it has not been slack. For many Nigerians, they see Tinubu’s submission to the INEC as an unmistaken forgery. This position falls in line with the authoritative ‘Black’s Law Dictionary’, which defines forgery as an “act of fraudulently making a false document or altering a real one to be used as genuine…’.  To accentuate the grouse of this first school of thought, the discrepancies on Tinubu’s submission to INEC are not mere typographical errors, but clear cut alterations, which make the document a far cry from the original one.  There is also the fact that Tinubu’s submission to the INEC was not a latter day amendment of the features of the school’s certificate but a different document that is completely unknown to the CSU.

In a situation where lying and telling a lie are two sides of a coin, Tinubu’s enterprise in this certificate saga indicts him as committing both offences. Having submitted to INEC a document he knew to be different from the original by any measure, he not only deliberately lied, but also offered it being a lie. This is just in case he was not the author of the fake certificate.  This is the basis for the stringent calls for his resignation from office or be removed statutorily.

The second mindset is shared by those who contend that whatever discrepancy that is associated with Tinubu’s submission to INEC remains too tenuous to qualify to give him and his camp any bellyache, not to talk of removal from office as President of Nigeria.  Expectedly, this school of thought comprises Tinubu’s   political camp and much of the government establishment, who believe in the use of state power to wade off any doomsday tendency that can scuttle the President’s tenure and their comfort zones.

Indeed, not a few members of this lobby have mounted spirited campaigns to interpret the saga in one twisted light or other, with the hope that the bad dream as it were, will simply vanish into thin air. However, just as wishes cannot be horses, contemplations that the Tinubu certificate saga will simply vanish – even with stringent, official ,policy supported advocacy in that direction, amounts to burying one’s head in the sand like the ostrich. Sooner than later, complications and implications associated with it will crop-up, just like a pregnancy that is conceived in the dark, but manifests with time, in the open.

An immediate implications of this situation is the resurgence of opprobrium against Nigerians and the country across the civilised world, which see Nigeria and its leader from the perspective of a credibility deficit. It needs to be recalled that the country had been through a similar era of suspicion in many parts of the world with Nigerians suffering undue additional scrutiny and harassment at foreign airports, etc.  Considering that such has occurred before the proliferation of social media, it can be imagined what a new, runaway dispensation of stigmatization will do to the country.

In the final analysis, given the humongous wherewithal of state apparatus at his disposal, Tinubu may not be disposed to resign and toe the path of honour. He is for now staying in office not on the basis of constitutional legitimacy, but on the grounds of impunity and hero worship by his acolytes. Hence his legitimate removal shall be possible only by other statutory means – such as through the Supreme Court, or the National Assembly through an impeachment process.

It is in this context that the pro-Tinubu lobby – while rooting for him as their hero, may also be aware that they are consolidating the platform for uncomplimentary backlash against the country. And that is not patriotism.


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