THE All Progressives Congress (APC) has said that it will not forward to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) a copy of the attestation certificate of President Muhammadu Buhari’s West African School Certificate (WASC) presented to him on Friday by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) because it is no longer necessary to do so.
Speaking to Saturday Tribune on phone, the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling party, Lanre Isa-Onilu, said INEC had never expressed doubt about the claim made by President Buhari in the affidavit attached to his personal particulars submitted to the electoral body that his original WASC certificate was with the Military Board.
He said: “We don’t need to submit to INEC. INEC has never expressed reservations about the documents that President Muhammadu Buhari attached to his personal particulars. Now that WAEC has issued Mr President his certificate, any of the Doubting Thomases can approach the body (WAEC) for authentication or clarification.”
The president had been widely reported not to possess the certificate following his inability to submit it to INEC for the purpose of election.
But his special adviser on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed on Friday that the president now had an attestation to the certificate from WAEC.
He said Buhari received the attestation certificate and confirmation of school certificate result from the examination body on Friday.
In a tweet on his Twitter handle @FemiAdesina, he said: “WAEC presents attestation certificate and confirmation of school cert result to President Buhari. What will the naysayers say next?”
In an official statement released later, the Presidency said the documents were presented to the president at the State House, Abuja, during a courtesy visit by a delegation from WAEC led by the body’s Registrar, Dr Iyi Uwadiae.
Also on the delegation were Olutise Adenipekun, Head, National Office, WAEC; Abiodun Aduloju, Head Public Affairs, WAEC and Olufemi Oke, Zonal Coordinator, WAEC, Abuja.
Signed by Adesina, the statement said the president thanked the examination board, established in 1952 to conduct the WASC examination for university and JAMB entry examination in West African countries, for upholding its integrity over the years, adding that he did not expect anything less from the institution.
According to the statement, the president said it would have been impossible for him to have attended the Defence Services Staff College, India (1973) and thereafter, United States Army War College as a Nigerian military officer if he didn’t sit for the WASC examinations in 1961.
I spent 9 years in primary, secondary schools –Buhari
The President recounted that during his secondary school days, it was very difficult to commit examination fraud, even though it was not impossible.
It quoted the president as saying: “My colleagues and I who spent close to nine years in boarding school both in primary and secondary, including Gen. Musa Yar’Adua, when we intended to join the military, we had to take a military examination.
“We were examined in three subjects, English, Mathematics and General Knowledge, because English is the language for general instruction throughout the country because of our colonial heritage.
“Mathematics in the military was necessary, coupled with Geography. We were trained how to be dropped off in the bush, given only a pair of compass and since we were not astronomers, you have to learn to find your way, calculate, using the Pythagoras Theorem and others to work out your position.”
Why we took result to Villa –WAEC
WAEC, however, said that the media frenzy that trailed its presentation of its certificate to President Buhari at the Villa on Friday was unnecessary.
In a short telephone interview with Saturday Tribune on Friday, the Head of Public Affairs Division of WAEC in Nigeria, Mr Demianus Ojijeogu, said what the body presented to the president was an attestation of result, and not a certificate.
“The Registrar to Council, Dr Iyi Uwadiae, and in company of the Head of National Office of WAEC in Nigeria, Mr Olu Adenipekun, went to the Villa to present not a certificate but an attestation of result.
“When we issue attestation of result, it comes with a passport photograph of the candidate. It’s not a certificate,” he said.
When did the president apply for it? Saturday Tribune probed further. To this, the WAEC spokesman said what was important was that the president applied, and was issued his attestation of result.
“We can’t be saying he applied yesterday or day before yesterday; the only thing is that he applied, and we must give honour to whom honour is due as the president of the country. There is nothing wrong in that (taking the document to the Villa),” he said.
The photograph on the document issued to the president has also been an object of controversy with many saying that it was incongruous that the Buhari’s 1961 ‘certificate’ would bear the image of an adult Buhari.
But Demianus also explained this.
“When we issue attestation of result, it comes with a photograph the person presented when he was applying for the attestation of result.
“It’s not a certificate; it’s attestation of result. We did that (started issuing attestation of result) because of the rate at which candidates were losing their certificate; since we (WAEC) don’t issue certificate twice.
“So, we issue attestation of result for those who have lost their certificate, or their certificate is damaged or they cannot find it. You can apply for attestation of result. And whatever passport you submitted when you applied for it is what will appear on the attestation of result.”
Asked in another discussion why it is now that WAEC is giving Buhari attestation of result and not much earlier, he said Buhari didn’t apply for it until now.
On when Buhari collected the original certificate, he said since the examination was a school-based one, the candidate collected it from his school and WAEC would not know when he did so.
In his remarks earlier at the Villa, WAEC Registrar, Uwadiae, said it was possible for candidates to lose their examination certificates through fire or any other unfortunate incident.
“We don’t issue certificates twice but we can issue attestations or duplicate copy of the certificate.
“We also have what we refer to as confirmation; usually, universities were using this in those days when Information Technology was not in vogue.
“Whoever sat for WASC exams in whatever year, we have the records in our database, and Mr President, we have the records of the examinations you sat in 1961.
“We have the attestation of results which we issue to candidates who lost their certificates and confirmation of results,” Dr Uwadiae said.
It’s a procured political document –PDP
In a swift reaction, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), dismissed the move as a tragicomedy, adding that the certificate was procured.
The National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbodiyan, told reporters on Friday in Abuja that the attestation was like the Martin Luther King Award presented to the President last year which turned out to be a fake award.
While wondering why the certificate was appearing only a few months to the election, the party spokesman said the fact that the president did not use the certificate in the 2015 election is an affirmation that he does not have a certificate.
The PDP spokesmen added: “It is a tragicomedy. We never expected Mr President to dramatically come this low because you cannot have a certificate and be calling it an attestation.
“What are they attesting to? We stand by our position that Mr President has no school certificate.
“It’s simply a political certificate. We have said that the Buhari presidency and his handlers are always fretting at the mention of a certificate. So, they want to mislead Nigerians to say that Mr President has a school certificate.
“If Mr President has a certificate, why did he not use it in the 2015 election? Why is the certificate suddenly emerging a few months to the election?
“And have you checked the photograph that was attached to the certificate? In 1961, was it the requirement of WAEC to have a passport attached to school certificate?
“Even in our own generation, was it a condition in WAEC that you must submit your passport to be attached to your certificate? They should come off it. It’s too low.
“You remember the procured Martin Luther Award presented to our president which later was discovered to be fake? This is a similar award.
“We are waiting for the story of its declaration as another procured document.”
CUPP accuses WAEC of manufacturing result for Buhari
Also, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) condemned what it called the sudden release of a suspicious confirmation of result by WAEC in favour of Buhari a few days to the commencement of a suit seeking to disqualify him from the 2019 election.
In a statement on Friday in Abuja by its spokesman, Mr Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere, CUPP described the development as “very strange, laughable, unbelievable and a desperate effort to mislead the court and shield Buhari from disqualification from participation in the 2019 general election.”
The group called on WAEC to produce the official ledger and booklet containing the scores and records of names of students of the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, now called Government Secondary School, who sat for the examination in 1961, “and not the manufactured afterthought confirmation of result which was not backed with any evidence to show that President Buhari participated in the 1961 examinations.”
It alleged that WAEC succumbed to a high-level pressure to issue the document which it said was suspicious and aimed at misleading Nigerians and the court to believe President Buhari sat for the WAEC certificate examinations when he “actually did not” as there was no evidence to support the assertion.
“Let Nigerians be reminded that a few days ago, the opposition raised the alarm that there was an ongoing move to tamper with the records of WAEC and pressure the leadership into manufacturing a result for President Buhari.
“Today’s action of WAEC has vindicated our earlier fears and confirmed our stand that WAEC is now competing with Oluwole Market in manufacturing documents,” the CUPP said.
It challenged WAEC to publicly display the original 1961 ledger and booklet containing the names of the 1961 candidates who sat for the exam from the Provincial Secondary School, Kastina, to back up its confirmation of result issued to President Buhari or apologise to Nigerians for attempting to mislead them and destroy the credibility of the “once respected examination body.”
It said “no amount of desperation or engineered misinformation can change the minds of Nigerian voters from voting out the incompetent regime of President Buhari that has destroyed the Nigerian economy, divided our people and made our nation insecure.”