The ruling Peoples Democratic Party and the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, on Saturday insisted that the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), was taking Nigerians for granted by not clearing his name of allegations of forgery and lying on oath.
The ruling party said the presidential flag-bearer of the APC should clear the controversy surrounding his certificates.
National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Olisa Metuh, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Saturday.
Metuh said, “Gen. Buhari must tell Nigerians in clear terms where his certificates are. He should stop taking Nigerians for a ride. We demand he clears the air on this before the day of the election.”
He said the retired army general must come out openly and clear his name “because you cant give the people what you don’t have.”
The APC presidential candidate had in a document submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission sworn that his credentials were with the military. But the military said the certificates were not in Buhari’s personal files. Government College Katsina, however, issued Buhari’s statement of result.
Also, the principal of the school, Isyaku Bello, had in an interview with The PUNCH on January 22, said the certificate he signed was genuine.
The principal said, “If they are doubting the result, then they should come and see the authentic copy and not the photocopy sent to us by the Cambridge West Africa School.
“We are here waiting for anybody doubting what we have sent out. We are not running away. Let them come and find out.”
But Okupe dismissed the principal’s claim. He stated, “It is inconceivable that allegations as weighty as forgery and perjury will be made against the person of a retired General and a former Head of State without him deeming it necessary to conclusively debunk such allegations but would rather pass the buck to other persons or organisations.
“We consider this as an unstatesmanlike assault on the intelligence of Nigerians and it represents the greatest challenge between Gen Buhari and the office he seeks to occupy.”
He stated that the former head of state had a few weeks ago said secondary school certificate was in three different quarters: the Military Board, his former secondary school and now the Independent National Electoral Commission.
Okupe noted that the West African Examinations Council recently “declared that it did not have any records of Buhari’s secondary school certificate just as the military authorities did.”
He stated that the only two factors which Buhari’s “propagandists” had hinged his candidacy on were his incorruptibility and integrity.
The presidential aide said, “While the report of the Haroun Adamu committee on the mismanagement of a sum of N25bn at the PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund) has completely wiped off the vaunted incorruptibility, the General’s integrity credential is being threatened by this odious certificate issue.
“It has therefore become imperative for him to quickly put an end to this unnecessary and inexplicable certificate controversies; otherwise the only remaining leg on which he is supposedly standing may be fatally destroyed.”
Okupe said Buhari and the APC “who mouth corruption everywhere should clear the air on this matter or forever bury their heads in shame.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, concerning the 2015 elections, Nigerians will not elect into its highest office a man who cannot satisfy the minutest test of honesty and integrity in his academic credential,” he added.
In his response, National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Lai Mohammed, said the presidency was merely flogging a dead issue.
Mohammed, who insisted that Buhari’s certificates were with the military, said the PDP was behind their disappearance from his file with the military.
He accused the PDP of leaving behind the real issues in which Nigerians were more interested.
Mohammed said, “It is clear that the PDP wants to distract Nigerians. The issues that Nigerians are worried about are the following: Where are the about 200 Chibok girls? What has happened to our $20bn? Why do we have so much of unemployment in town? Why is that we do not have power at all? Why is that our health sector is in shambles? Why is infant mortality so high? Why is the dollar exchanging for N215? Those are the issues Nigerians want to hear today.
“On the issue of certificate, we have proven beyond doubt, that the PDP is behind even the disappearance of the General’s certificate from the military file? However, we have been able to produce one from the school. What else do they want?”