Concerning Bola Tinubu’s Certificate
By: Deji Yesufu
I told somebody two days ago that I have not been in Nigeria. Despite living within the shores of this country, most of my dealings lately have been international. So, I have needed to come up to speed with our domestic issues. Thankfully, Arise News helped me. This morning, on their Morning Show, the trio of Rueben Abati, Rufai Oseni and Ayo Mairo-Ese, had two guests on: Dele Farotimi and Oladotun Hassan – both of whom are lawyers. Farotimi is a known supporter of Peter Obi, while Hassan vouches for Bola Tinubu. The interview promised to produce some fireworks. Farotimi called the President “a career criminal”, while at the same time expressing his lack of trust in the judiciary. Hassan would not restrain his disgust at Farotimi’s petulance. The trouble with the interview, however, was that while the individuals examined the same subject: the matter of the veracity of Bola Tinubu’s certification with the Chicago State University, both of them reached opposite conclusions on the same set of facts. And this is where my confusion was doubled.
While on oath, an official of the Chicago State University had stated that the certificate produced by the Nigerian President was different from the one issued by the University to a said “Bola Tinubu” when he (or she) left their institution in 1979. On the other hand, the same official explained that one Bola Tinubu was a student of the school from 1976 to 1979. A typical situation in which opposite sides taking the narrative that suited their own case began to play out, and the debate was quite vitriolic. Hassan took exception to the manner Rufai Oseni was asking his questions; Ruben Abati quickly separated Arise News from the legal implications of Farotimi libel-able statements against the President and the Nigerian judiciary. The only person who sat on the fence on the whole subject was Ayo – offering some conciliation as much as she could. In a few words, to close this essay, I want to offer my thoughts on the implication of a Nigerian President possessing a forged certificate.
First, we must accept that the evidence before us has rendered the matter really vague to interpret. People on opposite sides of the debate can choose what conclusion to reach. It is true that one “Bola Tinubu” attended Chicago State University in the said period, and it is true that the certificate our President presented to INEC is not the certificate that the school issued to her graduates. So, the evidence before us leaves everyone to reach different conclusions.
Second. What is before us here is a moral question and this is where I tend to agree with Mr. Farotimi: there is a problem with a country whose leading figure does not uphold basic moral values in society. The question of who an “omoluabi” is, came up in the interview and Farotimi was quick to point out that it is not enough to claim to be Omoluabi merely because you are Yoruba; you must earn this description by your actions. There is a problem with a country whose moral compass keeps deteriorating every day. Where good is regarded as evil, and evil is seen as good as long as the individuals involved are ready to pay a price for it. There was a time in this country when what was bad remained bad, regardless of how much money was brought into the subject. Today, however, money appears to be the measure of morality both in our political houses and religious systems. There was a time when parents, pastors and people in a community would question the source of the wealth of an individual; today, it does not matter where the money comes from. What matters is that an individual has money to spend and he is quickly beatified.
Third. It is not likely that the question of Bola Tinubu certificate will be enough to overturn the case presently before the Supreme Court of Nigeria. It is however important to note that this matter would determine what direction this country will move to in the days to come. I sincerely hope that by the time the dust settles, the righteous will continue to do righteously; and the unrighteous will continue in their evil ways. It will position this country on a pedestal where evil is clearly distinguished from good. So that when the wind of change begins to blow, the wheat would be easily removed from the chaff. And there is something people do with chaff: they burn it with fire. Let those who have ears to hear hear what the Spirit says to a nation.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.