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On Buhari’s and Melaye’s certificate sagas

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Senator Dino Melaye (APC – Kogi) PHOTO: TWITTER/NIGERIAN SENATE

Nigeria is a funny country. We cry when we are supposed to be quiet while we keep quiet when we are supposed to cry. I see no end to Nigeria’s problems. In 1999 the Speaker, House of Representative leader, Salisu Buhari, was forced to resign and later was prosecuted on charges of falsification of date of birth and forgery of Toronto University’s certificate. Even when the 360-member House of Representatives voted that Salisu be forgiven, the Olusegun Obasanjo-led federal executive still prosecuted him.

That prosecution happened under the watch of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who later gave us controversial stories about his own date of birth. Today, we are investigating the source of funds for the 2015 PDP campaign and everybody assumes or believes that APC’s campaign funds came from heaven hence no need probing the source.

On page three of his book, My Watch, Chief Obasanjo admitted that: ‘Normally, in the illiterate communities of those days, significant general or special events were used to date personal or family events.’ He was trying to tell the whole world that it was difficult to accurately determine his own date of birth. However, he had the conscience and temerity to prosecute Honourable Salisu Buhari who might also be confused about his own date of birth. Still in the book, My Watch, Chief Obasanjo went ahead to state that: ‘But whatever it was, I was happily born on Ifo Market day, not before 1934 and not later than 1937… I do not know my exact date of birth, and mindful of the foregoing account I have arbitrarily chosen March 5, 1937 as my official birthday.’

However in 1951 when Chief Obasanjo was about gaining admission into Baptist Boys High School (BBHS) he adjusted his age in order to evade the maximum age of 12 years. He proudly boasted as thus: ‘I secured a declaration of age of 12 years in 1951, so my declared age on admission to Baptist Boys’ High School was 12, that is, according to the school’s records. I was born on March 5, in 1939, the same date as my official birthday, but in a different year. (This is colloquially known as school age!) By that, the hurdle of age for admission to BBHS was scaled.’

Remember, it was the same Chief Obasanjo who assured us that his date of birth could not be earlier than 1934 or later than 1937. He had to adjust his age to 12 years (1939) when his own cousin, Oluwole Adebayo, tipped him off that if he was more than 12 years, he would be regarded as too old and would thus be denied admission at BBHS. Who knows? Honourable Salisu might have received the similar tipoff that for somebody to be the Speaker of our Federal House of Representatives (FHR), that person must have attained the minimum age of 30, according to Section 65(1b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. By following Obasanjo’s example, Salisu Buhari who was eager to serve his country in the capacity of the Speaker of the FHR, simply adjusted his age from 29 to 36 years. I am not supporting anybody but my annoyance is what conscience did the Obasanjo-led Federal Government have to prosecute Salisu Buhari who had been forgiven by his fellow honourable members after he voluntarily resigned as the Speaker of the FHR? It is clear that both Obasanjo and Salisu Buhari previously adjusted their dates of birth to achieve a particular feat but as the Late Gani Fawehinmi said: “Nigerian law is like a cobweb, it is strong when it comes to the weak and weak when it comes to the strong.” Salisu Buhari was sacrificed in that age adjustment saga while Chief Obasanjo, the then chief executive, was spared.

I was happy when the magistrate accepted the call for leniency and only fined Salisu Buhari N1000 each for false declaration of age and for forgery of Toronto University’s certificate. Today, another mistake or politics of 1999 is being replayed. What is the fuss about Senator Dino Melaye’s university certificate? Are we through with President Muhammadu Buhari’s WAEC certificate? While shedding lights on the qualifications for the membership of National Assembly, Section.65(2a) of the constitution only requires a minimum of SSCE. That SSCE , Senator Dino Melaye already has and any other certificate like university certificate is an addendum and not a prerequisite, hence not compulsory .Nobody seems to pay attention to Section.131(d) of the Constitution which requires that the presidential candidate must have been educated to at least SSCE level or its equivalent.

The last time I checked, Mr. President’s WAEC certificate saga is yet to be laid to rest. I heard more Senior Advocates of Nigeria were hired for the case, I asked myself which one was easier, showing the whole world the controversial WAEC certificate or continuing hiring more Senior Advocates of Nigeria with tax payers’ money? I thank God that the VC of ABU Zaria has finally laid to rest the alleged certificate forgery. For those mocking Senator Melaye for graduating with a third class grade, is Melaye today not better off than many( if not all the ) lawyers ,medical doctors, pharmacists, engineers et cetera? Let Senator Melaye put up an advert that he wants PhD holders who will be his domestic cleaners and in less than a day he will receive more than 1000 applications. Dangote Group of Companies did it before and we saw how many PhD holders applied to be truck drivers.

To Senator Dino Melaye, we will say ride on; we know after you had an altercation with your female colleague, that a time like this was coming. Just move on, we are solidly behind you. For those ready and willing to further investigate Senator Dino Melaye’s University Certificate, save your energy and resolve the uncertainties surrounding Mr. President’s WAEC certificate because you cannot remove the speck out of another person’s eye when there is a plank in your own eyes. He who wants equity must come with clean hands, so says my book of the law.
• Dr. John writes from Port Harcourt


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