Tinubu – CSU certificate issue and Nigeria’s value system

This is what Nigerians expected from President Tinubu, presently. Being a president deprives him of all claims of privacy in his previous engagements

By Emeka Alex Duru

No matter how one tries not to bother at the certificate issue involving President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Chicago State University (CSU), the institution he claimed to have attended for a degree, the matter keeps popping up. Like the mythical incubus – the bad dream which hardly dies, it keeps coming and does not let go. In a way, it has become a sore in the thumb, which only Tinubu can cure. And in doing so, time is of essence.

In our days in the rested The Post Express Newspapers, a colleague was about being made the Daily Editor, when overnight, his contemporaries interested on the post, connived with corrupt minds in the administration department and all his academic records were removed from his file, leaving only the West African School Certificate. Rumours were injected into the organisation that he was not adequately educated for the position. He was denied the appointment.

But he did not bring down the house. All he did was to forward a new set of credentials, indicating that he graduated from a higher institution in Lagos and dared anyone with contrary facts to prove him wrong. None did. He was eventually made the Editor of the Paper. Today, he is Managing Director of a leading newspaper organisation.

In 2011, when opponents raised allegations that the then United States’ President, Barack Obama was not born in the country, the White House simply released copies of his original birth certificate to put an end to the rumors.

The certificate stated that the president was born at Honolulu’s Kapiolani Hospital on August 4, 1961. That, put paid to insinuations that Obama was born overseas – possibly in his father’s home country of Kenya – and could be constitutionally ineligible to serve as president.

Obama even addressed the issue. “We do not have time for this kind of silliness… “Normally I would not comment on something like this. But the country has some enormous challenges out there that it will not be able to effectively meet if we’re distracted”, he said.

Down here under the military, at a time when retired General Mohammed Buba Marwa, current Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), was the administrator of Lagos State, there were allegations of certain species of killer beans in the markets. The rumour scared people from purchasing beans and patronizing bean cake (Akara) sellers for fear of their lives. The governor, simply doused the tension by stopping by to buy and eat Akara balls on the road side. The matter ended instantly.

In advertising and public relations, the maxim is; “if you have it, flaunt it”. If tomorrow, it become necessary for me to prove the authenticity of my academic records, all I would need to do to clear the air is to encourage and even pay for the schools I attended – Holy Trinity Practising School Orlu, Bishop Shanahan College (BSC), Orlu; Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, University of Nigeria, University of Jos, Nigeria Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Lagos State University, to release proofs of my certificates and dates of attendance for public view. That makes for transparency and conviction.

This is what Nigerians expected from President Tinubu, presently. Being a president deprives him of all claims of privacy in his previous engagements. It is not in his interest blocking the Chicago State University from telling Nigerians who he was and how he entered the institution. The day he was sworn in as president, was the moment he assumed the character of a glass house in a market square which all sees through. There is therefore, an extent he can run but certainly cannot hide.

The CSU certificate issue poses a huge burden to Tinubu and Nigeria’s value system. How far he goes in handling it, will go a long way in determining his reputation in the court of public opinion. The challenge is not one that can be wished away or suppressed by renting a brigade of senior lawyers and experts in jurisprudence. It is rather a matter of evidence, the type that is explained in normal street lingo as “seeing is believing”.

Tinubu owes Nigerians a lot in coming clean on his person and credentials. A major attribute of electoral democracy is its culture of transparency. The moment that significant factor is lost or buried in the debris of manipulations or legal technicalities, it is no longer democracy. By extension, the essence of the title, “His Excellency”, is lost. There cannot be excellency in one riding on a dented mandate or flying on the wings of padded credentials.

The dangers in pretending that such anomalies do not exist, are many. At a time that men and women of conscience are rising to speak against the tendency of some youth abandoning genuine means of livelihood and taking to cybercrime or other forms of criminality under the umbrella of “Yahoo-Yahoo Business”, winning the fight will be difficult with a president seating comfortably on breezy academic and other awful records. How then can the upcoming generation be advised to embrace hard work as the only pathway to success when they have a ready instance of shortcut to cite? It is this direct assault on the societal value system that should give any Nigerian much cause to worry, whether he supports the President or not.

So, it is not enough hushing out Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP) in the February election or blackmailing Atiku Abubakar, the flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from insisting on the matter. The US Courts can even be made to give order restraining the Chicago State University from releasing the results. The President and his foot soldiers may see that as a victory, if it comes to that. But Nigerians know better and are certainly, wiser. They can separate the grains from the chaff.

For Tinubu, the CSU affair has become a scandal of sort. It will continue to hang around him as a rope, drawing him back from any move at fighting against corruption and other forms of malfeasance in the public and private sectors all his days in office. It is a war he cannot win.

DURU is the Editor, TheNiche Newspapers, Lagos 

(08054103327, nwaukpala@yahoo.com)

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