John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi, Eniola Akinkuotu, Olalekan Adetayo, Gbenro Adeoye, Tunde Ajaja, Olaleye Aluko and Jesusegun Alagbe
Many Nigerians on Friday expressed outrage at President Muhammadu Buhari’s refusal to submit his educational certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission, as required by law and his claim that the documents were with the military.
Buhari had in a sworn affidavit he submitted along with his forms to INEC on Friday, said all his credentials were with the Secretary to the Military Board.
Angered by the development, several Nigerians on Friday expressed outrage over the President’s “perpetual excuse” of his certificates being in custody of the military, having given same excuse in 2015.
Of the over 420 comments that followed the story on PUNCH website alone as of 11pm, a commenter with the pseudonym, Alex Writes, said, “Buhari, up till now, still makes this silly excuse? Haba! You have contested the Presidency in Nigeria five times without any documents.
“You are busy swearing affidavits up and down. This is a travesty, I must say. It makes no sense whatsoever. Is the military on mars or in this same Nigeria?
A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, pondered over the President’s statement, saying, “Once again, Buhari has refused to submit his West African Examinations Council certificate to INEC. Once again, he says that it is with the military authorities.
“Even though he has been Commander in Chief for the last few years, he has been unable to retrieve them. May God save Nigeria from this man,” Fani-Kayode wrote via his verified Twitter handle, @realFFK.
Another Twitter user and United Nations fellow, Abang Mercy, knocked the President over his statement.
She asked, “This thing Buhari is doing and walking away with, one day we will all see it in much clearer terms. If INEC is demanding WAEC certificate, why can’t Buhari approach WAEC for a reissue? Why does he keep telling us this story about the military? It is the silliest narrative ever out there.”
A Facebook user, Pastor Oluwatosin Olunuga, asked if INEC would have tolerated other presidential candidates if they didn’t have WAEC certificates.
“This is the silliest excuse by any living President. What has he been doing all these years, knowing he was going to need his certificates to contest?
“President Buhari is taking us for a ride and it is corruption. This President is corrupt if he can’t follow due process,” another Facebook user, Jackson Ude, wrote.
Vita, another Punch Online commenter, said bluntly, “I strongly feel that Buhari is a cheat. Thus, he must be disqualified from running for any public office.”
A Twitter user, Thankgod Ukachukwu, with the handle, @kcnaija, wondered why the President was giving the save excuse, while Solomon Oluwatobi, with the handle, @Sololuwatobi, asked the President, “Credentials still with the military? Fine, but did you give them the original copies or don’t you have copies? Why can’t you put devil to shame by saying the truth, Mr President?”
Likewise, @evansodeh2015, threw a jab at Buhari, saying, “Dear President Buhari, Permission to lead a protest on your behalf to demand for the release of your WAEC certificate by the military. We are willing to ‘collect’ tear gas for you, sir.”
On Nairaland, Allwility said, “INEC shouldn’t accept this crappy excuse again. The military should present the said documents or INEC declare Buhari ineligible to run for office of President,” while another commenter, Pacino26, said “They can make a photocopy of it and send na.”
Also, Princemilla wrote that the President should not come up with the same story, saying, “No, we don’t want that story again. We voted Buhari without certificate to oust GEJ. This time, Buhari should show us his certificate.”
Goldcircle said the “affliction should not occur a second time,” while TonyeBarcanista said the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, should instruct the Secretary of Military Board to give (President) Buhari his certificate.
Equally, Seborrhic said the President’s claim only buttressed insinuations in some quarters that he did not have a certificate.
Meanwhile, among the several comments on Facebook, one Celestine Okonkwo, said, “Mr. integrity did not present his credentials to INEC, says it’s with the military. Why did Jega manipulate Buhari into power?”
PDP, CUPP, others hammer Buhari over certificate saga
Meanwhile, opposition political parties also challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to make public copies of his school certificates to prove he really attended secondary school.
The Peoples Democratic Party, in a statement on Friday signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, specifically challenged the President to show proof of his integrity by presenting his academic documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission, instead of bugging the commission with affidavits.
The PDP said while its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had submitted his educational and other relevant documents to INEC, Buhari “is rather seeking ways to short-circuit the system, instead of complying with set rules.”
Ologbondiyan said, “Indeed, a situation where President Buhari has been dodging the certificate issue raises a huge question of integrity, which demands that he makes available his credentials or apologise to Nigerians, if he has none, so that the nation can move ahead.”
Speaking in a similar vein, the co-spokesperson for the Coalition of United Peoples Parties, Mr. Mark Adebayo, said it was now clear to all Nigerians to see that the President simply did not possess the minimum requirement to contest the 2019 election.
Also, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, said he was surprised the President would make the same mistake he made in 2015 when he said his certificate was with the military.
Agbakoba added, “It’s a fairly serious matter that the court would have to interpret. Any Nigerian concerned with upholding the constitution could take the matter to court, and they won’t be considered a meddlesome interloper in the matter. Let the court decide.”
According to the National President, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Mr. Malachy Ugwummadu, the President should be disqualified from contesting to retain his seat should he fail to provide the required credentials.
The Director of Strategic Communications, Coalition for Nigeria Movement, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, said it was hypocritical of Buhari to be claiming to have integrity when he kept failing at “small issues” like this.