Yesterday the West African Examination Council (WAEC) handed to the President the attestation of the certificate issued to him in 1961. And in different reactions, the Presidency described the development as an end to the smear campaign of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against the President while the PDP described it as a tragicomedy insisting that “Mr. President has no school certificate”.
The PDP had turned Buhari’s inability to submit his WAEC certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress into a major campaign issue in the build-up to the 2015 election.
Buhari had explained then that his certificate was with the military, but the then ruling party insisted that he had no certificate in spite of a statement of result provided by Buhari’s former school and retired General Alani Akinrinade’s claim that it was the tradition in the military to take the certificates of new recruits.
And while the matter appeared to have been settled with Buhari’s victory in the 2015 presidential election, it reared its head again with another presidential election in the offing and Buhari once more the presidential candidate of APC.
The controversy was however laid to rest with WAEC’s presentation of an attested version of the President’s certificate to him in Abuja yesterday.
Receiving the certificate, President Buhari thanked the examination board for upholding its integrity over the years, saying that he expected nothing less from the institution. The President said it would have been impossible for him to attend the Defence Services Staff College, India (1973) and thereafter, United States Army War College as a Nigerian military officer if he did not sit the WASC examinations in 1961.
Reacting to the development in a statement yesterday, the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, described it as god-sent, considering that WAEC is a non-political entity.
“This should put to rest the absurd allegations by the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, brought up again and again, that he (President Buhari) did not attend a secondary school.
“The unreasonable position of the PDP had been sustained all along in spite of testimony by classmates who read with him in school and graduated together, and that fact that a court of law had given a ruling on the matter,” Shehu said.
“But what do you expect of a group that has stopped thinking, just blowing hot, toxic air, indulging in divisive politics and is raking up sectional issues so that the people will forget the real issues of corruption, infrastructure, security and economy for which they have no plans?”.
Meanwhile, the PDP yesterday described the attestation received by the President WAEC as tragicomedy. Reacting to the President’s receipt of the document, spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the PDP never expected President Buhari to dramatically come this low because “you cannot have a certificate and be calling it an attestation.”
Ologbondiyan said: “What are they attesting to? We stand by our position that Mr. President has no school certificate.
“It’s simply a political certificate. We have said that the Buhari presidency and his handlers are always fretting at the mention of a certificate, so they want to mislead Nigerians to say that Mr. President has a school certificate.
“If Mr. President has a certificate, why did he not use it in the 2015 election? Why is the certificate suddenly emerging a few months to the election?
“And have you checked the photograph that was attached to the certificate? In 1961, was it the requirement of WAEC to have a passport attached to school certificate?
“Even in our own generation, was it a condition in WAEC that you must submit your passport to be attached to your certificate?
“They should come off it. It’s too low.”