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Sunday, July 21, 2024

OPINION: The Tinubu papers – Ripples Nigeria

ALHAJI Bola Ahmed [or Adekunle] Tinubu’splot to become Nigeria’s president was not incubated only over the last 24years as appears to be the refrain in recent years. It has been a lifelong ambition and he said so himself in the presidential villa in Abuja in January. A man who had no sinister plot will not willfully erase and expunge and diligently hide his beginning and his early childhood as Tinubu has done successfully or so it seems, until now. Even if he was born in the Dark Age, there was no way his first twenty-something years on earth would have disappeared to the extent that they have almost become irrecoverable.

Wherever there appears to be a lapse in the act of hiding his past and some inconsistencies therein, Tinubu and his foot soldiers will move to ensure speedy amendments and to increase the layers of forgeries. When ‘Adekunle’ suddenly emerged as part of Tinubu’s middle name, his co conspirators quickly moved to alter his bio-data on the unreliable Wikipedia social media platform. The old entry was quickly erased and ‘Adekunle’ added as part of his name. This action became necessary because his national youth service certificate, which by the way his opponents claimed was a forgery, bore ‘Adekunle’ as one of his middle names. It is important to note that Tinubu, who had successfully run for senate and governor prior to his presidency, only filed his national youth service certificate as the spirit, whatever spirit, moved him. So the youth service certificate is one of the many suspect papers of President Tinubu.

In the social media profile which was edited last weekend, he had a mother but no father. His opponents say his mother was not his mother really. His birth certificate, if indeed he has any, is anotherproblem. That one straddles three dates depending on where he is and what end he wants to achieve. On some occasions it was 1952, on others it became 1954 and it could be 1955 as the spirit directed him. I have not done any diligent search but I am convinced that there are no other individuals with three birth dates. The closest to Tinubu was the Queen of England who officially had two birth dates. And it was explained that it was so because the real birth date of the Queen fell due during the season of the year when outdoor activities could be disrupted by inclement weather. So another birth date was adopted when outdoor celebrations to mark herbirthday could be held. Unlike Tinubu’s there was no hanky-panky. The real birthday of Tinubu is yet another of the long list of the Tinubu Papers that are mired in controversy. His handlers are usually in overdrive mode to reconcile or explain away the contradictions. When they are overwhelmed they electto keep mum and let the issue that cannot be reasonably explained blow away. The birth dates and certificates are yet another of the Tinubu Papers which dogs his presidency. At the advent of the fourth republic in 1999, Tinubu filed his papers with the election commission in pursuant of his ambition to govern Lagos state. He claimed that he attended the University of Chicago in the United States of America. He did not attend that school.

And he was caught. His friend, Tokunbo Afikuyomi, elected to be Tinubu’s fall guy. Afikuyomi claimed that he was the person who filled and filed Tinubu’s papers with the election commission and that he was responsible for the falsehoods. At the time of the discovery, Tinubu had won election as governor and had been sworn into office. He took refuge in the Constitutional immunityclausewhich shields a governor from prosecution. Dogged lawyer and senior advocate of Nigeria, the late Gani Fawehinmi took up the gauntlet of using the courts to establish that Tinubu was an artful forger. He met huddles, obstacles and roadblocks in his quest to unmask Tinubu. He failed because of the omnibus Constitutional immunity clause that provided iron-clad shield for some electedbut errant Nigerian public officers. It was during that era also that the now president of Nigeria claimed in his filings that he attended St. John’s School, Aroloya, Lagos, and Government College, Ibadan. He did notattend any. And concerning that of Government College, Ibadan, he was outed in a very public and embarrassing manner. Some old boys thought it would be worthwhile to organize a reception for one of their ‘own’ who had been elected to a high public office. It was designed to be a grand event until an old boy asked for any of the classmates of Tinubu in the college. None showed. Emissaries were reportedly sent to the ‘crown prince’ to enquire about his year of entry and year of graduation. They drew blank. So the reception failed because it was being built on deceptionand fraud and falsehood.His attendance of the Lagos primary school was also found to be a lie. He listed these schools in his filings with the electoral body in 1999. These are components of the Tinubu Papers. About the same time, Festus Keyamo, a lawyer who is now a senior advocate, used the courts to try to compel the Lagos state House of Assembly to impeach Tinubu on grounds of forgeries.

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He met a brick wall. It’s ironic that 24 years after, the same Keyamo is the lead chorister in the Tinububand of quear fellows. Nothing has changed in the allegations of serial forgeries against Tinubu, but what has changed is that Keyamo had been invited to the banquettable first by former President, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, who himself presented a dodgy school certificate, in whose cabinet he served as a minister of state, and now by Tinubu where he is the aviation minister after being one of the spokespersons in the campaign council. Tinubu fights dirty. Many people who have been accused of a litany of infamies and forgeries fight dirty. He survived all the court cases in Nigeria including the Code of Conduct Tribunal trial for allegedly maintaining and operating foreign bank accounts while he was a governor. But late last year and especially in the past two months allegations of forgeries against Tinubu have assumed international dimension. Investigative journalist David Hundeyin opened the can of worms about Tinubu’s money forfeiture in Chicago in the 1990s in connection with heroine trafficking and the suspicion that his diploma [certificate] from Chicago State University [CSU] was dodgy.

An Abuja-based lawyer, Mike Enahoro Ebah followed up with a subpoena for the certificate of Tinubu from CSU. He succeeded and on scrutiny he was convinced that Tinubu forged the certificate he filed with the ‘Independent’ National Electoral Commission [INEC]. In November last year Enahoro-Ebah approached a court to complain that a copy of the CSU certificate released to him by the school bore no resemblance and was ‘radically different’ from the copy attached to Tinubu’s sworn Form EC-9 Affidavit in supportof personal particulars submitted to INEC on June 17, 2022. Enahoro-Ebah’s case could not fly. In short it was suppressed. There is still no evidence that it was assigned to any judge. Whatever happened to the suit remains in the realm of conjecture. Perhaps, the case was a victim of the capture of the judiciary over which Prof. Chidi Odinkalu had writtentons of published articles. Apparently frustrated with the shenanigans of Nigerian courts, Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party’s [PDP]presidential candidate in the disputedelection took the battle to the US. The courts in Chicago were not persuaded by Tinubu’s claim that the release of his CSU academic records would do irreparable harm to him. And he was right.

In summary the released records and the subsequent deposition showed that indeed Tinubu’s high school papers bore the imprints of a female; the Government College, Lagos from where he obtained a General Certificate of Education [GCE] in 1970 was actually founded in 1974; and, that Tinubu probably did not graduate from CSU in spite of the school claiming that he did. He had defects in his high school records in mathematics and Englishlanguage and there was no record that he remedied thembeforehis alleged graduation in 1979. At Chatham House in London in December last year, Tinubu told the world that he had written and received his certificate from CSU. He again lied because in the deposition the school said that no such request for diploma replacement was made by Tinubu and none was issued to him. The common thread in the Tinubu Papers is that virtually all documents he has been parading in politics and employments were at best suspect and at worst forged. The suspected forgeries are not limited to his academic records-they cover the whole gamut of his age, his parentage, his origin, his childhood, his name and everything in-between. Just last weekend there was a frantic effort to update his online profile to reflect ‘Adekunle’, a name that surfaced in his national youth service certificate which is suspected to be dubious. Tinubu’s has been a troubling life and the impact of his odium will linger for a long time in Nigeria no matter how the Supreme Court determined the fresh evidence introduced by Abubakar. Holders of Nigerian passports will have to brace up for more scrutiny in foreign airports; our children who seek opportunity for education off-shore will be routinely refused and subjected to indignity; those who seek employment abroad will have to deal with huddles and obstacles like never before. If it is established that Nigeria’s President is a serial and practiced forger, then all Nigerians will be treated as confidence tricksters. Back home the regime if it survives will be grappling with legitimacy problems. It will face increased criticisms which will lead it to resort to dictatorial methods to silence critics. A vicious cycle is loading and they do not bodewell for a country that has many of the indices of a failed state.

AUTHOR: UGO ONUOHA


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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