Cer­tifi­cate scan­dals threaten 2019 dreams

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and em­bold­ened his crit­ics while cu­ri­ous vot­ers were seen snap­ping the doc­u­ment with their hand­sets and flip­ping through other pa­pers at­tached to the form.

Ef­forts to see what Jib­rilla pre­sented to INEC ahead of 2015 were not suc­cess­ful. Be­fore he be­came gov­er­nor, Jib­rilla had served as se­na­tor and it is only what hap­pens in the com­ing days in the court that will un­ravel the mys­tery be­hind his cre­den­tials.

Ashiru’s cer­tifi­cate case and Kaduna PDP

There have been re­ports since Al­haji Isa Ashiru emerged the gov­er­nor­ship flag bearer of the PDP in Kaduna State, that there are is­sues with his cre­den­tials.

It has re­mained one of the is­sues his me­dia team had to bat­tle with it for weeks but just as the mat­ter was about to die down, a ma­jor stake­holder in the party, Dr. Muham­mad Sani-Bello, brought it up.

Dr. Bello, one of the PDP gov­er­nor­ship as­pi­rants who later with­drew from the race to sup­port Ashiru, made the ob­ser­va­tion about dis­crep­an­cies in the ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tion of Ashiru for­mal by pub­licly mak­ing it an is­sue in the fac­tors that made him re­sign from the PDP.

While an­nounc­ing his de­ci­sion to quit the PDP, Dr. Bello said he was not com­fort­able work­ing with Ashiru as his aca­demic cre­den­tials were al­legedly un­der ques­tion.

He said, “Based on my find­ings, the doc­u­men­ta­tion of the can­di­date con­tains cer­tain flaws which re­main un­ex­plained,” but made no ef­fort to ex­plain fur­ther.

Checks by our cor­re­spon­dent at the INEC of­fice in Kaduna showed that Ashiru at­tached pho­to­copies of all the ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions to his form to sub­stan­ti­ate his claim of at­tend­ing var­i­ous schools from pri­mary to univer­sity.

Ashiru in the form said he at­tended LEA Pri­mary School Ku­dan, Kufena Col­lege in Zaria, Katsina Polytech­nic, Kaduna Polytech­nic and Bayero Univer­sity, Kano from where he ob­tained the LEA Pri­mary Cer­tifi­cate, the Gen­eral Cer­tifi­cate of Ed­u­ca­tion, June 1980, Na­tional Diploma Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, 1985; Higher Na­tional Diploma Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion 1989; Post Grad­u­ate Diploma, Mar­ket­ing, 1999 and Mas­ters in Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion, 2002.

The PDP can­di­date who said he was born on Oc­to­ber 23, 1962, said he com­pleted the Na­tional Youth Ser­vice Corps (NYSC) pro­gramme in Borno State in 1990.

Ashiru ex­plained that there are no dis­crep­an­cies in his cre­den­tials and that his cer­tifi­cates which he pre­sented to INEC for the forth­com­ing elec­tion are all gen­uine and com­plete.

He de­scribed the al­le­ga­tion as a man­i­fes­ta­tion of the des­per­a­tion of the APC to cre­ate doubt and con­fu­sion in the minds of the peo­ple of Kaduna State about him.

The PDP can­di­date had con­tested and won elec­tions four times in the past as he was a mem­ber of the Kaduna State House of Assem­bly from 1999 to 2007 and mem­ber of the Fed­eral House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 2007 to 2015.

Since Dr. Sani has left the PDP, our cor­re­spon­dent learnt that no for­mal com­plaint has been sent to the party to in­ter­ro­gate the is­sue fur­ther.

There are in­di­ca­tions how­ever that one of the as­pi­rants who con­tested the pri­mary with Ashiru is try­ing to take up the mat­ter with the party so that the ticket of the party would be handed to him.

PDP lead­ers in the state say the mat­ter is not an is­sue as they are sure that Ashiru’s pa­pers are gen­uine but the APC, our cor­re­spon­dent learnt, is highly in­ter­ested in the mat­ter and is try­ing to es­tab­lish the dis­crep­ancy as a counter-strat­egy in the scheme to­wards dis­lodg­ing the PDP at the polls.

Atunwa’s prob­lem in Kwara

There are al­le­ga­tions that the gov­er­nor­ship can­di­date of the PDP in Kwara State, Razak Atunwa, did not par­tic­i­pate in the NYSC pro­gramme.

Atunwa was al­leged to have sourced a forged NYSC dis­charge cer­tifi­cate which he sub­mit­ted to the PDP to prove his el­i­gi­bil­ity for the of­fice of gov­er­nor.

In his pre­vi­ous con­test, it was gath­ered that no­body knew what he pre­sented since the is­sue of cer­tifi­cate was not as se­ri­ous as it is to­day, but Atunwa is said to be a grad­u­ate of Law.

For this elec­tion, it was learnt that Atunwa sub­mit­ted a sec­ondary school cer­tifi­cate.

The devel­op­ment has gen­er­ated a lot of dis­quiet in the state and among mem­bers of the party, with in­sin­u­a­tions that if fully es­tab­lished, he might likely be re­placed by Malam Bo­laji Ab­dul­lahi, the erst­while na­tional public­ity sec­re­tary of the APC who re­cently fol­lowed Se­nate Pres­i­dent Bukola Saraki to the PDP.

Sources within the party say things have re­ally “fallen apart” and the “cen­tre can no longer hold.”

It was ru­moured that one of the PDP as­pi­rants dur­ing the pri­mary elec­tion who is close to Gov­er­nor Ab­dul­fa­tah Ahmed, blew the whis­tle about the fake NYSC cer­tifi­cate.

Find­ings re­vealed that Atunwa re­mains the pre­ferred choice of Bukola Saraki even though other forces within the party want some­one else.

It was gath­ered that the as­pi­rant who blew the whis­tle be­lieves that if Atunwa is even­tu­ally dropped as the PDP can­di­date, he might get the ticket but sur­pris­ingly, Atunwa’s name ap­peared in the INEC list as the PDP can­di­date for the next year’s elec­tion.

Mean­while, Atunwa while re­act­ing, said, “I did not sub­mit any un­sup­ported NYSC cer­tifi­cate as sug­gested by you.

“I strongly ad­vise that you ver­ify each and ev­ery as­ser­tion you wish to make. You may wish to make for­mal en­quiries/ ver­i­fi­ca­tions of all in­sti­tu­tions con­cerned.

“You should also be cir­cum­spect enough to au­then­ti­cate the prove­nance of any doc­u­ment you may be handed if it’s not from a for­mal and of­fi­cial source.”

Atunwa may sur­vive the heavy wind be­cause of the sup­port he en­joys from Saraki who is the po­lit­i­cal leader in the state and con­sid­er­ing that he only sub­mit­ted his sec­ondary school cer­tifi­cate.

But, in the event he must be re­placed, many feel the ticket might be given to some­body from Kwara North, in­clud­ing Zakari Muhammed, Aliyu Ah­man Pategi and Shaaba Lafi­agi, while oth­ers feel Malam Bo­laji Ab­dul­lahi might still be the lucky man.

Ade­bayo Shittu screened out

The Min­ster of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Mr Ade­bayo Shittu could not also ac­tu­al­ize his dream of be­com­ing gov­er­nor in Kwara State af­ter he was screened out by the APC over his fail­ure to par­tic­i­pate in the NYSC.

Shittu, a SAN who has al­ready gone to court to seek in­ter­pre­ta­tion, said he be­lieved serv­ing as a mem­ber of the House of Assem­bly soon af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the Law School was enough re­place­ment for the NYSC pro­gramme.

What the Con­sti­tu­tion says

Sec­tion 131 of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion sets out that a per­son can vie for the of­fice of pres­i­dent of Nige­ria if he has cer­tain qual­i­fi­ca­tions and with the ex­cep­tion of age, the qual­i­fi­ca­tions are sim­i­lar to other of­fices such as gov­er­nor, mem­ber of the na­tional or state assem­bly.

The re­quire­ments in­clude be­ing a ci­ti­zen of Nige­ria and at­tain­ing the re­quired age, be­ing a mem­ber of a po­lit­i­cal party and spon­sored by that po­lit­i­cal party, and must have been ed­u­cated up to at least school cer­tifi­cate level or its equiv­a­lent.

Sec­tion 318 (1) of the Con­sti­tu­tion de­fines what school cer­tifi­cate or its equiv­a­lent to mean a sec­ondary school cer­tifi­cate or its equiv­a­lent, Grade II Teacher’s Cer­tifi­cate, City and Guilds Cer­tifi­cate; or Pri­mary Six School Leav­ing Cer­tifi­cate or its equiv­a­lent and ser­vice in the pub­lic or pri­vate sec­tor in the fed­er­a­tion in any ca­pac­ity ac­cept­able to INEC for a min­i­mum of 10 years, and at­ten­dance at cour­ses and train­ing in such in­sti­tu­tions as may be ac­cept­able to INEC for pe­ri­ods to­tal­ing up to a min­i­mum of one year, and the abil­ity to read, write, un­der­stand and com­mu­ni­cate in English lan­guage to the sat­is­fac­tion of INEC and any other qual­i­fi­ca­tion ac­cept­able to INEC.

A lawyer speaks

An Abuja-based lawyer and Se­nior Ad­vo­cate of Nige­ria (SAN), Pro­fes­sor Agbo Madaki, says there are rea­sons why many politi­cians are des­per­ate to forge their way into pub­lic of­fice, de­spite the fact that the ba­sic re­quire­ments are not dif­fi­cult to come by. “Mind you, the law did not say you must have a de­gree or HND. But the truth is that ours is a cul­ture of flaunt­ing what we don’t have. Un­for­tu­nately, that has be­come part of our cul­ture such that you find peo­ple who don’t pos­sess some of these higher cer­tifi­cates and the ten­dency is for them to forge so that peo­ple now re­gard them as hav­ing what or­di­nar­ily they don’t have. I think low self-es­teem is part of the prob­lem here,” he said.

“And that is also pos­si­ble be­cause peo­ple have been forg­ing suc­cess­fully in this coun­try. That is not to say that the law is weak be­cause forgery is a crim­i­nal of­fence in Nige­ria and pun­ish­able by both the Crim­i­nal Code and the Pe­nal Code.

“How­ever, the prob­lem here is that of se­lec­tive ap­pli­ca­tion of jus­tice. Sim­ply be­cause most of the peo­ple in­volved are the elite or peo­ple of high means, in other words, the rich and fa­mous, they of­ten es­cape with­out pros­e­cu­tion,” he said.

“Law en­force­ment in Nige­ria is weak and por­ous. Why the of­fend­ers es­cape is be­cause the law en­force­ment mech­a­nism in Nige­ria is weak. I be­lieve the Nige­ria Po­lice, by virtue of their train­ing, have the ca­pac­ity not only to in­ves­ti­gate but also to pros­e­cute, es­pe­cially go­ing by the Supreme Court de­ci­sion re­cently. They should en­sure that the of­fend­ers are ap­pre­hended and pros­e­cuted,” he said.

Hon Isa Ashiru

Barr. Razak Atunwa Kikiotolu

Gov Jib­rilla Umaru Bin­dow

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