It is true that Garba Shehu further chipped away from his integrity when he disingenously claimed that the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) produced President Muhammadu Buhari’s attestation of results out of a sense of duty. The examinations body has categorically stated that the president has been given the attestation only because he applied for it, contrary to Shehu’s assertion.
It is true that there is a pitiable feeling of embarrassment you get from looking at that photo showing Buhari and his loyalists laughing out so loudly as though Nigeria had won the World Cup just because of an attestation of result.
And it is also true the president’s results still contain irregularities or remains unsatisfactory with regards to his score in Math and the presence of Hausa language (which seemed to not have been introduced as a WAEC subject at the time he supposedly wrote the exams).
The president’s result is not the model any Nigerian parent should want their child to follow. But the release of the attestation after four years of quibbles about it means ‘certificate’ should cease to be one of the ammunition with which the Opposition aims at stripping Buhari of his office in three months time.
By the letter of the Constitution on the minimum qualification required to run for the highest office, Buhari is in the clear; he has the paper, even if it is not of the quality we generally demand of students today. His attestation does not reveal a student who had potential for technical analytic or scientific prowess. Perhaps that has remained with him, showing up in his spastic and sluggish handling of the Nigerian economy over the past three years. But he was good enough for the Army of the day. Those were the times and the rules appears to have favoured him.
Today I received the attestation and confirmation of my 1961 West African School Certificate (WASC) Examination result, from the Registrar of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). It was also an opportunity for me to thank WAEC for upholding its integrity over the years. pic.twitter.com/coJpMFZ0Kr
— Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari) November 2, 2018
An awful lot has changed since Buhari wrote those examinations but he does not appear to have change much. Did he, at the time, envisage he would ever become Nigeria’s president? That would have required some forward thinking capacity. In any case, students who generally perform below par in key subjects may not generally expect to be in the mainstream of governance and public administration. They would fear being revealed for incompetence and unceremoniously dismissed from their positions. Such dismissals come, more often than not, with public shame often forcing those involved into a life of seclusion. We no longer hear of Salisu Buhari, the 1999 Speaker of the House who was shamed out of office for his ‘Toronto’ degree. For Muhammadu, however, there has never really been a threat of a caste treatment. His paper is not fake; it is just so far from what you expect.
Has his government met the expectations of Nigerians? That should remain the focus of Opposition supporters who wish to keep up the fire gathered from the WAEC certificate. You will not find it hard to discover that many Nigerians are not without stain as it relates to their own WAEC certificates. The standards of the exams especially in rural areas have drastically gone down over the years, with some school principals and teachers often playing key roles to encourage malpractice. If stopping a Buhari return in 2019 were to hinge on advertisements and twitter campaigns further discrediting his certificate, many will not be reading the news if only to not be reminded of their own shortcomings.
But everyone can relate to an economy that is not better today than it was four years ago, to the extent that Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world. All tertiary education students can attest to the life-distorting effects of two ASUU strikes in 13 months. The people of Benue, Kaduna, Plateau and Taraba can attest to the lack of improvements in peace, law and order. And the anti-corruption war? Listen closely and you will here the laughter.
In the battle of attestations, there is still much more territory to explore.
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