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President Buhari Certificate Scandal & The Rising Trend Of Suicide - By Reno Omokri

I read the statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, saying that President Muhammadu Buhari is not involved in any certificate scandal and I was rather surprised that a professional like Garba, whom I know to be a polished media man, would even have responded to that story from The Punch Newspaper in the first place.

The response was unnecessary. As a presidential spokesman, you do not respond to every story. In fact, under President Obama, there was a template in the White House which was that if multiple media networks are not carrying a story, then it is not worth responding to it because by responding to a small story, you make it a big story. You give it the attention that makes other news houses interested in it and that is what Garba Shehu’s statement did.

Now, to say that President Buhari does not have a certificate scandal is an act of dishonesty and to quote Edmund Burke, Garba is being economical with the truth.

The Presidency is being clever by half by saying that President Muhammadu Buhari, like Dino Melaye, is not involved in a certificate scandal. That is patently dishonest. President Buhari DOES have a certificate scandal. 

If the President does not have a certificate scandal, how come he hired thirteen high-priced Senior Advocates of Nigeria to defend him in a case brought to compel him to provide the certificate or proof that he has one, including one Kola Awodein (SAN) who gave a ‘gift’ of ₦500,000 to Justice Ademola, the judge that was handling the case against the president, at a time the case was pending before him!

A man who has no certificate scandal will simply produce the original certificate or if it is lost he will apply to the University of Cambridge International Examinations for a Certified True Copy of his results. You do not need to defend the truth with 13 SANs. The truth will defend itself.

Now, do not get me wrong. I am not saying that Buhari has no GCE Certificate. I do not know if he has or does not have a certificate. What I know is that the story keeps changing. We read that the Nigerian Army had his certificate until they denied. Then we were told that the certificate was seized by the Babangida administration when Buhari was overthrown in 1985. We have also read that the certificate is with President Muhammadu Buhari’s provincial school in Katsina. Which is it? Your guess is as good as mine. What I am saying is that except hiring thirteen SANs is part of his strategy for fulfilling his campaign promise of employing three million Nigerians in two years, it is safe to conclude that President Muhammadu Buhari HAS a certificate scandal! A confirmed one.

On January 21, 2015, the West African Examinations Council, WAEC, even intervened and said that they could assist in verifying the certificate if only then Candidate Buhari would officially request them to.

On that date, WAEC’s spokesman, Mr. Yusuf Ari said, “WAEC cannot take any action except, the owner of the certificate asked us to do so. We are an independent body, therefore, we cannot be partisan on this issue.”

Would it be far easier to just ask the relevant authorities to release the documents as Mr. Ari said, than to hire thirteen SANs?

In fact, I wish the efforts by Dino Melaye’s enemies in the All Progressives Congress to verify his certificates can be applied to verifying the certificate of another powerful man in the APC. We should not treat Dino Melaye one way and President Muhammadu Buhari another way. If they think Dino Melaye is unfit to hold his senatorial seat because he did not graduate from university (which is untrue), then they should apply their logic to all political office holders no matter how high they are. If Dino must present his certificate, then others must also present their own too! What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!

For the avoidance of doubt, the minimum educational requirement to contest a Senate seat is the equivalent of a West African Senior School Certificate Examination. There is absolutely no doubt that Dino Melaye has one. Yet so much pressure was piled on him due to his Bachelor certificate simply because he ruffled the ‘cabal’s’ feathers.

If questionable certificates are the issue, then it is not Dino we should be looking at! There is somebody who has more questions about his school certificate than Dino. Why are we turning the spotlight on Dino and pandering to President Muhammadu Buhari? Just as the Senate summoned the Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University to give evidence in this matter, the Senate should likewise summon the representative of Cambridge International Examinations to answer questions about President Muhammadu Buhari’s certificate!

In a nation in recession with two of the deadliest terror groups on earth, our fixation is on the certificate of a senator without executive power! That is the problem with Nigeria’s leadership. Our current leaders cannot spend time planning the progress of this nation, but they can devote razor-like focus to planning the downfall of real and perceived enemies even to the smallest and most ridiculous detail!

And the fact that elements within the APC are shining a spotlight on Dino Melaye’s certificate is   yet another example of how divided that party is.

This is even as the recent contretemps between Malam Nasir El-Rufai and some mandarins in the ‘cabal’ has shed more light on why the Buhari administration has failed to deliver the goods it promised.

Never in the history of Nigeria have we ever had a government so divided against itself.

The Nigerian Customs Service Versus the Nigerian Senate, the Directorate of State Security Versus the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nasir El-Rufai Versus the Chief of Staff and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Versus the Nigerian Senate, Aisha Buhari Versus the cabal, Asiwaju Bolaji Tinubu Versus John Oyegun, Abike Dabiri Versus the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Raji Fashola Versus Akinwunmi Ambode. 

Yet you wonder why this government cannot deliver! If the grass suffers when only two elephants fight, what do you think will happen to the grass when all the elephants are fighting simultaneously? A government that uses all its energies to fight itself will not have any energy left to fight for you!

And to make matters worse, the Buhari administration and the APC keep saying former President Jonathan ruined Nigeria for five years. Yet in those five years you had affordable food, fuel, dollars and regular salary at the federal level.

Moreover, Jonathan did not spend unspecified sums of money on his health abroad neither did he write letters to the National Assembly defending members of his cabinet caught red-handed in corruption.

Perhaps, Jonathan ruined Nigerian by reviving our previously moribund railways and making it possible for you to travel by rail from Lagos to Kano at a cost of ₦1500? Perhaps, he ruined Nigeria by building the ONLY standard-gauge modern railway that makes it possible for you to live in Kaduna and work in Abuja? In fact, I am sure Jonathan ruined President Buhari’s home state of Katsina, by building the ONLY federal university in that state. If ruining is what Jonathan did for five years, then what will you call what President Buhari has done to Nigeria in the last two years?

It is now tickety-boo in the minds of the apparatchiks of this administration to lay the blame for all their problems on Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, but there is only one small problem.

In January 2015, then Candidate  Muhammadu Buhari released a campaign ad with a picture of him that said and I quote, “If anything goes wrong, I will take responsibility and fix it. THAT IS WHAT IT MEANS TO LEAD” (emphasis President Buhari’s, not mine).

Going by the above words of President Muhammadu Buhari himself, we can see quite clearly that judging him by his own standards, the only possible verdict is that he has failed as a leader because two years into his administration, he has yet to “take responsibility and fix it” and is still blaming his predecessor.

By constantly blaming Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for the woes of his government, President Buhari is saying that a man in retirement in Otuoke has more influence over his administration than he as president does. The reality is that the penchant to blame the previous administration shows that ex-President Jonathan is more powerful in his absence from power than incumbent President Buhari is with his presence in power.

Saying anything to get elected and then breaking the promises you made after you are elected is deception and the worst form of corruption!

But in truth, what derailed the Buhari administration and the APC is that they focused all their energies on destroying Goodluck Jonathan, the PDP and the Transformation Agenda instead of concentrating on building Muhammadu Buhari, the APC and the Change Agenda.

Leaders must realise that power is like fire. You can only make progress with fire if you use it to light the way in darkness. But if you use it to burn your enemy’s house, after burning his house, the wind will spread the fire to your own house. Good leaders focus on making progress, bad leaders are fixated on revenge. You cannot combine both. You must choose one or the other and President Buhari made the wrong choice.

And the fixation of the Buhari administration on blaming Jonathan and fighting its real and perceived enemies has meant that only minimal attention is being given to the economy.  Consequently, a man who inherited the third-fastest growing economy in the world from former President Jonathan has turned Nigeria into a nation with the world’s fourth-worst performing currency!

The effect of President Buhari’s mishandling of the economy has been catastrophic on the lives of Nigerians. Never in the history of Nigeria has suicide been so widespread as it is today. There is so much despair in the land. We obviously need permanent police presence around the lagoon in Lagos. But my thinking is that even if we police the lagoon, how many suicides go unreported in cities, towns, and villages across Nigeria? 

And even in the Nigerian Police Force, there is a rising wave of suicide amongst officers and men which has become so prevalent that the police authorities themselves have been forced to take action.

At the beginning of the year, the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 5, Abubakar Mohammed told newsmen that he had received a mandate from the Inspector General of Police to intervene to stem the rising trend of suicide within the force. He said and I quote, “The IGP has asked us to now go close to our officers as well as the rank and file to know what their problems are because the level of suicide within the police is getting higher. Police officers are killing themselves without knowing what the problems are.”

So if those who are meant to prevent suicide have some of the highest rates of suicide within their midst, what are we to do as a nation?

I am reminded at this time of Proverbs 29:2: ‘When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked bears rule, the people mourn.’

This is not about PDP or APC. If doctors and businessmen and women are being moved to suicide, what about the increasing number of unemployed? I call on churches to shift focus from miracles and financial breakthroughs to extending love to the broken, lonely, unemployed and the abandoned in their communities. Sell your founders private plane and use the money to feed thousands as Jesus fed thousands!

Though there is so much gloom in the land, I want to end this piece on a positive note, so I will leave my readers this week and every other week with one of my wisdom nuggets which form the basis of my ministration as a pastor and an ambassador of Christ.

Reno’s Nuggets: Don’t ask for money from wealthy men. Ask for friendship. A beggar of a rich man is poor. A friend of a rich man becomes rich. You see, people remain poor because when they get money, they think of the latest phone or shoe instead of a business idea to invest in. But when you befriend the wealthy, you learn to think like them. Finally, you can only become successful by association if you hang out in places where the people you want to be like hang out #RenosNuggets. 

This article was first published in thisdaylive.com. 

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