“Why I Intervened in Buhari’s Certificate Saga” – Professor Kaita

Professor Haruna Kaita, is a Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. In this interview, he spoke on the reasons why he intervened in the certificate saga of retired major general Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential flag bearer.

Many observers were taken aback when your name appeared as one of those who were searching for Buhari’s school certificate?
Well, I have to say that as a citizen concerned with issues of propriety, this is not a matter that people should remain silent about. Indeed, conscientious Nigerians, following the twists and turns of political campaigns between our two dominant political parties, would have anticipated this type of personality attacks on opponents.

Attack, counter-attack and mudslinging are expected from people struggling to garner support for their own candidates and political parties. This is normal. However, what is not so normal is the way in which some politicians become desperate in their attempts to run down their opponents. I took special interest in order to ascertain the truth on the allegations leveled against General Muhammadu Buhari, in my considered opinion, a very credible person. Keep politics aside, Buhari is a man of integrity as most people are aware.

Are you saying that Buhari’s integrity is one of your motivating factors?
Of course, we are discussing the murky waters of partisan politics where anything goes. The APC, as a political party, should have anticipated smear campaigns against its presidential flag-bearer and prepared itself for counter measures.

The Buhari handlers apparently overlook the fact that the trenches have been dug since before now.

The PDP is not only apprehensive of the APC’s recent successes, but also badly bruised due to sustained campaigns, portraying the PDP as a party that lacks integrity with such baggage such as Stella Oduah’s certificate story and other impertinent actions.

As it is right now, the PDP may grab any chance the opposition will offer to even raise the scores out of desperation and fear of defeat at the polls.

In specific terms, initially, I was reluctant to intervene on the certificate issue, but for the complacent manner the APC dismissed the scandalous allegation on Buhari’s academic qualifications.

To my understanding, the target of the secondary school certificate campaign waged against Buhari is having a double-edge sword effect. For one effect, the certificate issue is set as a trumped-up story to challenge the constitutional eligibility of a credible presidential contestant, who is now contesting for the fourth time, especially now that he has remarkably gained nationwide acceptability due mainly to PDP’s impunity. For another effect, the certificate campaign is meant to cast doubts on the very foundation of General Buhari’s sterling military career. The attempts are strategically intended to demolish the very foundation for his recruitment into the army, and logically any subsequent positions he held as something that happened fraudulently.

Again, Buhari assumed he could satisfy the opposition by simply explaining that he contested elections before with a sworn affidavit and no one contested his basic qualifications then.

But how would you explain the rationale behind the use of affidavit instead of original credentials?
Ideally, this question should have been referred to General Buhari himself and not me. But there are lots of stories regarding Buhari’s decision to tender affidavit instead of his original certificates in the pursuit of his political career. We shall come to that.

First, we must acknowledge that the issue of using affidavit by anyone in Nigeria is a legitimate one. This is duly recognized and accepted by the laws of the land. It is indeed a legal way of handling missing documents or certificates. This law cannot therefore change because of Buhari or any other person for that matter.

However, anything could have happened to Buhari’s certificate s to warrant his resort to affidavit. For example, there was this story surrounding Buhari’s documents which were lost during the 1985 coup, which toppled Buhari’s military government. It was alleged that Buhari’s documents were carted away from his residence and never returned to him since then.

There was also another allegation that even the copies of his documents in his service records were removed with the intention of setting the stage for the unfolding drama. Whatever the case, the evidence produced by the school he graduated from in Katsina should have arrested the matter once and for all. I do not believe the burden of proof should squarely rest on Buhari’s shoulders. In any case, anyone who is not satisfied with the evidence provided by his school authorities can take the matter a notch higher by extending their investigation to the authorities of Cambridge University Examination Board.

Don’t you think that your decision to get involved in Buhari’s certificate saga has taken you to the reign of partisan politics instead of your lecturing job?
Ordinarily, I would have ignored the lack of certificate allegation leveled against General Buhari, which I see coming like all the other politically motivated allegations made against him before now. But I noticed that the more the APC supporters wish the certificate saga to fade away, the more exciting and resilient the issue becomes. To worsen the situation, even the institution that should have vouched for the credibility of Buhari’s qualifications was ambivalent about it.

Without mincing words, the statement of the military spokesman on the issue, which was officially made in a press conference, did not help at all. Whatever the reason that informed the decision of the military officials to approach the matter in the manner they did is best known to them.

For me, I felt duty bound to wade into the issue. Consequently, I contacted General Muhammadu Buhari’s political handlers for their consent to apply for his secondary school result in order to clear the air, especially going by the garbage that is being circulated in the social media over Buhari’s qualifications.

Having come from Katsina myself, the same state with Muhammadu Buhari, it was quite easy for me to apply for any information of public interest from the appropriate authorities in the state. I therefore applied for evidence of Buhari’s secondary school qualification from the Principal of his former school. Thereafter, his statement of result was duly issued to me on behalf of General Buhari.

I, accordingly, sent the result to Buhari’s political handlers, upon which they promptly made it public. I noticed that it instantly went viral on social media. You may wish to know that what is even most amazing about the retrieval process is the fact that the school is meticulous with its record keeping.
You will be surprised that in that school, student records dating as far back as 1932 are still intact. Out of the whole lot, Muhammadu Buhari’s 1961 final examination records were fished out. They were then entered into the standard result format issued to all secondary school students who graduated from schools in Katsina state.

For each school, the Principal and the Examination Officer are the signatories to results issued from the master list sent to the school by the relevant examination bodies as you must have seen it on the copies of the statement of result circulating in public.

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Source: Daily Trust

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