The Nigerian Military And The Buhari’s Certificate Drama: Act One Scene Three By Terfa Naswem
When the General Muhammadu Buhari’s (Rtd.) secondary school certificate issue came up, I wrote an earth-shattering article against the Nigerian military and PDP stating that I suspected a foul play in the issue. The article was supposed to be published in the Nation and Thisday. But after due consultations with my media colleagues and two of my friends who are Barristers, they advised me not to send such an article for publication yet and should wait to see how the drama between PDP in collaboration with the Nigerian military against Buhari ends before I can do that. I thought of it and later decided to take a stand-by-the-side-and- watch approach.
My basic responsibility as a professional and practicing journalist is to stand for the truth at all times irrespective of who is involved and to be ready to pay whatever price it takes for justice to prevail. And by the grace of God I have always lived to that responsibility.
Even as I am an ardent supporter of Buhari and hold him in very high esteem because of his integrity and zero tolerance to corruption, I will be among the first to criticise him and his government if he fails to deliver and will launch vigorous media campaigns for his removal through the ballot which kicked Jonathan out and brought him in.
The Punch of January 4, 2015, in one of its headlines titled: “BUHARI’S CERTIFICATES WITH US, SAYS ARMY”, the Army spokeman, Brig-Gen. Olajide Layeye, in an exclusive interview with Punch correspondent in Abuja said that Buhari’s certificate was with the Army.
And to my greatest surprise, another headline in Thisday surfaced that made me to pounder on Buhari’s certificate issue for a very long time as had serious dissatisfaction with the Nigerian Army.
The Nigerian Army issue in relation to Buhar’s certificate was published in THISDAYLIVE on 21 January, 2015 titled: “ARMY: WE DO NOT HAVE BUHARI’S CERTIFICATE”. Below is an excerpt of the story:
—–“In a bid to put to rest the controversy surrounding the credentials of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Army has stated that it is not in possession of his West African School Certificate (WASC) with which he enrolled in the Nigerian Military Training College in 1962.
At a press briefing yesterday in Abuja, the Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Brig-Gen. Olajide Laleye, said the clarification was necessitated after the barrage of requests from individuals and corporate organisations seeking to know the true position of Buhari’s credentials.
But in a swift reaction, the APC warned that those bent on destroying its candidate may end up destroying the country’s military by dragging it into politics.
Providing further insight, Laleye said: “I don’t have that information on whether General Buhari has applied for his credentials. The reason why we put this press conference together is because individuals and corporate bodies have written severally requesting for his credentials.
“We want to make it clear that we hold Buhari in high esteem having risen through the ranks.
“Now the raging controversy concerning this has been what the Nigerian Army presented to you as facts. We have not added anything and we have not subtracted anything.
“In his personal file in the Nigerian Army, we do not have his original copy of his WASC, nor does the Nigerian Army have the certified true copy of his WASC results, neither do we have a photocopy.”
“We don’t have any of them but we do have other documents to show how he was recruited into the Nigeria Army as was entered in Form 199A.”
The army spokesman explained that the available records indicated that Buhari applied to join the military as a form six student of the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, on October 18, 1961.
“He was fully endorsed by the principal of the school, who also wrote a report on him and recommended him to be suitable for military commission.
“It is the practice in the Nigerian Army that before candidates are shortlisted for commissioning into the officers’ cadre of the service, the Selection Board verifies the original copies of credentials presented.”
“However, there is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s,” he said.
Nevertheless, Laleye said the entry made in the Nigerian Army Form 199A at the point of documentation after commission as an officer indicated that the former head of state obtained his secondary school certificate in 1961 with credits in the relevant subjects: English Language, Geography, History, Health Science, Hausa and a pass in English Literature.
“Neither the original copy, certified true copy nor statement of results of Major-General M. Buhari’s WASC result is in his personal file. I hope this explanation will put to rest the raging controversy surrounding the secondary school credentials of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari as it affects the Nigerian Army,” he said.”——–
To my greatest surprise, two days after Buhari was declared the winner of the Presidential election by INEC, the Army magically and mysteriously found Buhari’s certificate, an issue that nearly prevented Buhari from contesting the Presidential election.
In a press release by APC United Kingdom through Sunday Akoji on April 2, 2015 titled: “MATTERS ARISING”, on its twitter says that: “Back in January, there was a clamour over the inability of Buhari to be produce his Secondary School leaving Certificate. The certificate issue became a saga after the Nigerian army which claimed it had the certificate later retracted its statement saying the certificate was not in its possession.”
“Someone working for the PDP obviously removed the certificate from his file at the Defence Headquarters.”
Akoji said that it was even most disgraceful that the Director General of the PDP Presidential Campaign organisation was a Retired Colonel, in the person of Ahmadu Ali. He should have cautioned them about bringing the Military to disrepute. He did not.
“This singular act as far as I am concerned did more damage than good to the PDP”.
“Beyond bringing out Buhari’s certificate, there is an urgent need to restore pride and sanity to the military. As it stands now, the Nigerian Army, is an Army of anything goes! There have to be a clean sweep and overhaul of the military from top to bottom! The entire top echelon at the Defence Headquarters should turn in their resignation and leave with President Goodluck Jonathan on the 29th of May, so that the process of rebuilding and restoration shall begin in earnest,”he said.
With the Army suddenly releasing Buhari’s certificate after it became obvious that they would face the music made me to ask some basic questions:
- Why did the Nigerian Army publish in THISDAYLIVE on 21 Jan. 2015 that they do not have Buhari’s certificate?
- How come the Nigerian Army later released Buhari’s certificate?
- Where did they find it? Or has the certificate become a magical and mysterious paper that can appear, disappear and reappear when it pleases it?
- Why did the Nigerian Army later claim that they have Buhari’s certificate but he did not follow due process to apply for it?
- Why has the Nigeria Military been inconsistent in its statements regarding Buhari’s certificate?
- If Buhari was not elected as Nigeria’s president, would his certificate ever be found by the army?
- When Buhari was sued by Sen. Alphonsus Igbeke; A legal practitioner, Mr. Chukwunweike Okafor, and their “subterranean group” of PDP members for beaching relevant provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act 2010, why did the Nigerian army refuse to come to his rescue by presenting his certificate to the court to vindicate him?
There are so many questions that space could not permit me to ask the Nigerian military with regard to Buhari’s certificate issue.
It is very unfortunate that the Nigerian army could allow itself to be politicised by the corrupt Jonathan and his government which made Nigeria army to lose its integrity and dignity locally and internationally.
The Nigerian military officers who allowed Jonathan and his extremely corrupt party, PDP to use them to frustrate Buhari’s Presidency pursuit through the ballot are already fighting a lost battle because there is nothing under the heavens that they will do or say that will save them since Buhari will definitely play Azonto music for them while he sits and watches with delight how they will dance to the music.
NTA and AIT among other media were busy promoting anti-Buhari campaigns and making it emphatic that Buhari has no secondary school certificate because of their selfish interests. NTA and AIT among other media that contributed in painting Buhari black have made a mockery of the journalism profession locally and internationally which I am a strong member. I am absolutely convinced that NTA and AIT among other journalists who played damaging parts in Buhari certificate issue understand that this is the kind of situation where investigative journalism takes the central stage. But they ignored it.
These media practitioners ignored the tenets of journalism which include principles of accuracy, objectivity, fairness and balance in reporting and promoting damaging TV documentaries on Buhari. I just pray that Buhari should find a place in his heart to forgive them.
ACT ONE SCENE ONE: BUHARI’S CERTIFICATE WITH US, SAYS ARMY
ACT ONE SCENE TWO: ARMY: WE DON’T HAVE BUHARI’S CERTIFICATE.
ACT ONE SCENE THREE: WE HAVE FOUND BUHARI’S CERTIFICATE.
Nigerians are just waiting to see what ACT ONE SCENE FOUR will be like when Buhari is sworn in on May 29, 2015.