President Bola Ahmed Tinubu faces controversy for allegedly forging his university certificate from the Chicago State University. The news threatens to further jeopardize Nigeria’s already fragile global image and political credibility.
The 2023 general elections in Nigeria have been a whirlwind of debacle ranging from electoral fraud to violence. Even as the elections close out and Nigeria welcomes a new president in Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the complexities of the season have ceased to die down as former presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has questioned the authenticity of the university certificate President Tinubu presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
SO, THIS HAPPENED
On 02 October 2023, the Chicago State University in the United States released President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s academic records to Atiku Abubakar. The documents shared include President Tinubu’s admission records, and a letter dated 27 June 2022 confirming that he attended the university from August 1977 to June 1979 when he was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. This release follows controversy over Tinubu’s enrolment in the university as well as the authenticity of the certificate he presented to INEC prior to the 2023 general elections.
Since Tinubu was announced the winner of the election, his opponents, Atiku of the PDP and Peter Obi of the Labour Party, have filed various petitions against his campaign which they presented to the Court of Appeal. His university controversy is the latest issue raised which Atiku plans to present to the Supreme Court after it was initially dismissed during the presidential tribunal. It is imperative to consider how such a scandal adds to the many global embarrassments Nigeria faces as a country that lacks integrity even to the presidential level.
BUT IT’S NOT THE FIRST
What does it say of a country if its president could forge his university certificate, and at least for some time, get away with it? Is it gullibility, carelessness, or purposeful ignorance from the electoral body?
The controversy surrounding President Tinubu’s educational credentials is not an isolated incident but rather symptomatic of deeper problems within Nigerian politics. It highlights the prevalence of false credentials among politicians, where embellishments and dishonesty about educational qualifications or work experiences are not uncommon.
We recall the notorious Toronto Saga of 1999 when former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari, admitted to falsifying his age and university certificate. Former president, Muhammadu Buhari also faced a similar controversy. Furthermore, forgery has either trickled down into the masses or is a testament to how corruption seems to also exist from young ages, maturing when put in major seats of power. In July 2023, 19-year-old Mmesoma Ejikeme was barred from seating for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board examination for three years after she was found guilty of inflating her score from 249 to 362.
It is also not President Tinubu’s first certificate controversy. After receiving the documents from the Chicago State University, Atiku held a press conference where he paid homage to the late Gani Fawehinmi, who in 1999, sued Tinubu for lying under oath that he attended Government College Ibadan and Chicago State University. He said, ‘Now he can truly rest in peace in the assurance that what he started about 23 years ago has come to fruition. Gani’s vindication today gives credence to the saying that no matter how fast a lie runs, the truth will someday overtake it.’
This controversy has brought the lack of accountability within Nigerian politics to the forefront. While allegations emerge, there is rarely any definitive consequences for those involved. This pattern underscores the broader issue of politicians acting with impunity, knowing that there will likely be no repercussions for their actions.
The unfolding controversy has far-reaching implications, not just within Nigeria but across the globe. Nigeria is widely considered the giant of Africa as it has the biggest population and economy on the continent. Yet, it continues to be subjected to scrutiny from the global community. President Tinubu’s alleged dishonesty threatens to further impact Nigeria’s already fragile global reputation.
One of the most immediate consequences of the controversy is the erosion of trust and credibility in Nigerian political leadership. Already facing scepticism from the international community, this controversy further fuels doubts about the honesty and integrity of Nigeria’s leaders who have now become synonymous with corruption.
Moreover, Nigeria’‘s ability to attract foreign investments and foster strong diplomatic relations with other nations is contingent on its image as a trustworthy and reliable partner. Such a controversy reaching the presidential level poses a serious threat to foreign investments, as it raises questions about the nation’s integrity.
In the coming months, the world will closely monitor Nigeria’s response to this controversy and its commitment to political reform. The outcome will not only impact President Tinubu’s legacy but also shape the trajectory of Nigerian politics and its standing on the global stage⎈
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