By Tunde Rahman
Former Vice President and roundly defeated presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was a pitiful sight to behold on Thursday at the Shehu Yar ‘Adua Centre, Abuja as he sat like a wreck after addressing what he called a world press conference. He had gone on a wild goose chase to the United States in search of President Bola Tinubu’s certificate.
The former vice president however returned empty-handed after spending a fortune. Atiku himself admitted his exploratory journey was at a hefty cost.
At the press conference, the Waziri Adamawa discovered no new thing; he found nothing incriminating or untoward against the President. He is only currently engaging in political sophistry. Apparently deluding himself that he came back from the US with a smoking gun, at his press briefing, he sermonised on the important issue of leadership and responsibility. Alhaji Atiku assaulted the memory of the late irrepressible lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, claiming Fawehinmi inspired his shameful, worthless and self-seeking expedition.
Commending David Hundeyin, the rabble rouser who styles himself as an independent journalist, whose work he also said inspired him, it became apparent that both Atiku and Hundeyin were actually working together to embarrass President Tinubu.
Overwhelmed by his inordinate ambition, the failed PDP presidential candidate also shamelessly called traditional, religious, community and political leaders in the country including Labour Party’s Peter Obi and NNPP’s Senator Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso to rally round him in his political vendetta against President Tinubu.“This quest is not for or about Atiku Abubakar. It is a quest for the enthronement of truth, morality and accountability in our public affairs,” he said. And you wonder, what morality Alhaji Atiku was preaching. This is the same man who was indicted in the 2009 conviction of his accomplice, former United States Congressman William Jefferson, over bribery charges. Same man whose principal, former President Obasanjo, wrote a damaging testimonial on and whose years in Customs were signposted by corruption allegations.
If you have not read it, this is what former President Obasanjo said about Wazirin Atiku in Volume 2 Pages 31-32 of his book “My Watch”: “What I did not know, which came out glaringly later, was his parental background which was somewhat shadowy, his propensity to corruption, his tendency to disloyalty, his inability to say and stick to the truth all the time,a propensity for poor judgment, his belief and reliance on marabouts , his lack of transparency, his trust in money to buy his way out on all issues and his readiness to sacrifice morality, integrity, propriety truth and national interest for self and selfish interest.”
It is pertinent at this juncture to clarify some of the issues that emerged from the deposition by President Tinubu’s former school, Chicago State University, in order to understand Atiku’s deliberate and malicious distortion.
Speaking on oath in the testimonies contained in a deposition made in the Office of Angela Liu, Atiku’s legal counsel, in Chicago, US, CSU Registrar, Caleb Westberg declared that President Bola Tinubu attended and graduated with honours from the institution in 1979. He in fact asserted that President Tinubu is the same person who attended the school from 1977 to 1979. “We believe Bola Tinubu who attended CSU is the same person who is the President of Nigeria today. Tinubu is an unusual name in the US. He matched the records in the file against the information provided by the student or on behalf of the student.”
On the insinuation by Atiku’s lawyers that the Bola Tinubu who attended the school was a female on account of a clerical error spotted against Tinubu’s name, Westberg disclosed that the admission letter issued to the Nigerian President evidently proved he was a male and attended the school between 1977 and 1979.
Probed further to confirm if the Tinubu that enrolled at the school was a male or female, the registrar insisted, “Tinubu applied to the university as a male and a letter of admission was issued to a male.
“There were materials in Mr. Tinubu’s records that show he was a male in the application to CSU. Mr. Tinubu identified himself as a male. His letter of admission identified him as a male. It says: ‘Dear Mr. Tinubu’”, he said.
It is relevant to point out that in the US, premium is not placed on certificates, otherwise called diplomas, as we do here. Certificates are merely ceremonial. The emphasis is on transcripts. Employers and schools offering admissions for higher education will only ask for previous transcripts.
In most cases, the certificates are also printed by third party vendors. Many certificates are left uncollected because what is important is the transcript. The CSU has diplomas that students didn’t pick up in its possession.
“I have the diploma that was made available to Mr. Enahoro-Ebah in our possession because Mr. Tinubu did not pick it up. I do not have the diploma that was submitted to INEC in our possession because he had picked it, ” Westberg clarified while responding to another question.
Other matters also came up during the over five-hour interrogation session that I do not want to bore you with in this piece. However, it is surprising that Atiku and co would claim President Tinubu forged his certificate simply because the CSU Registrar said he could not authenticate the certificate presented to him by Atiku’s lawyer as the document Tinubu presented to INEC for the 2023 Presidential Election. He said he cannot confirm because only Tinubu has the certificate which he ordered and which had been picked up for him and that the school does not keep students’certificates. Nowhere in the interrogation did Westberg use the word fake or forged as Atiku’s lawyer tried to make him say so. Fact is there is no scintilla of doubt that President Tinubu attended and graduated from CSU. As my colleague, Temitope Ajayi, pointed out in his widely-publicised tweet, “You can only forge a certificate you never earned.” President Tinubu honourably earned his degree and he had no reason to forge the certificate of a degree he had in his kitty. He graduated Summa Cum Laude, with distinction. He was on the Vice Chancellor’s Honour List for all his years in the school. Insinuation by anyone that he forged a certificate he worked for is sad and misleading.
Indeed, attempts by some to liken the situation with those of the disgraced former House of Representatives Speaker, Salisu Buhari and former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun are disingenuous.
Former Speaker Buhari forged the certificate of Toronto University he never attended. He was removed from office for the forgery. Former President Obasanjo later pardoned him. As for former Minister Adeosun, those who brought her to limelight and sponsored her for the ministerial appointment arranged a fake NYSC exemption certificate for her to scale Senate screening. The same people did her in when disagreements broke out between them, giving her away as a certificate forger over which she eventually resigned. The cases are markedly different: President Tinubu earned his stripes.
In the final analysis, it is yet unclear how Atiku plans to benefit from whatever he claims to have brought back from the US. Certificate forgery was not pleaded in his election petition now at the Supreme Court. Without being a lawyer, this is a civil case and I understand you can’t make new pleas or present new evidence in a case that has passed the court of first instance and is at present on appeal at the Supreme Court.
What the Waziri Adamawa has demonstrated in all of his Shenanigans is that he is a sore loser. Will he gain what he failed to get at the ballot through his present indecent and unpatriotic overseas search and unfounded and hollow discovery, making a mountain where there is even no molehill, uneccesarily heating up the polity and denigrating the Justices of the Supreme Court? I don’t think so!
-Rahman, former Editor of Thisday on Sunday Newspaper, is a Presidential Aide.