The Nigerian Army said on Tuesday that it was not in possession of the academic credentials of Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s West African School Certificate (WASC), whether original or certified true copies.
The claim drew sharp criticism from the All progressives Congress (APC) which is fielding Buhari as its candidate for the coming Presidential election.
A statement by General Buhari’s campaign organisation last night disclosed that he will address a press conference on the controversy on Wednesday (today).
Prominent Northern politician, Alhaji Balarabe Musa described the development as a plot by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to manipulate the election against Buhari.
He told the Daily Times:: “How did he (Buhari) end up being a general in the Army? Did he not attend a series of courses both in and outside of the country? Why is it now that they are just discovering this?”
However, another prominent politician, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, who refused to be drawn into the certificate controversy, told the Daily Times that his main concern was for Buhari never to taste the presidency of Nigeria again having jailed him and many other southern politicians in the past unjustly.
The credentials of Buhari has in recent weeks been a subject of controversy.
The former military ruler had claimed in his nomination form with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that his credentials werewith the Nigerian Army.
But the Army said on Tuesday: “Neither the original copy, Certified True Copy (CTC) nor Statement of result of Major General M. Buhari’s WASC result is in his personal file.”
Nigerian Army spokeman, Brigadier General Olajide Laleye, who stated this at a press conference in Abuja, said the clarification was prompted by numerous requests by individuals and corporate bodies about Buhari’s claim that his certificate was with the Army.
Laleye said that the media hype on Buhari’s credentials as well as the numerous requests to the Nigerian Army on the issue made it imperative for the army to provide the facts as contained in the retired general’s record.
“Records available indicate that Major General Muhammadu Buhari applied to join the military as a Form Six student of the Provisional Secondary School, Katsina on 18 October, 1961. His application was duly endorsed by the principal of the school, who also wrote a report on him and recommended him to be suitable for military commission,” he said.
“It is a practice in the Nigerian Army that before candidates are shortlisted for commissioning into the officers’ cadre of the service, the Selection Board verifies the original copies of credentials that are presented. However, there is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s.
“Nevertheless, the entry made on the NA Form 199A at the point of documentation after commission as an officer indicated that the former Head of State obtained the West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1961 with credits in the relevant subjects: English language, Geography, History, Health Science, Hausa and a pass in English Literature,” he added.
Brigadier General Laleye stressed that the Nigerian Army holds Major General Muhammadu Buhari rtd in high esteem and would not be a party to any controversy surrounding his eligibility for any political office. He declared, “Suffice to state that Major General Buhari rose steadily to the enviable rank of major General before becoming the Head of State in December 1983.”
Buhari’s personal file which was displayed before journalists shows that the recommendation of the Principal, Provincial Secondary School Katsina. It reads: “I recommend him fit for military commission. I consider that Muhammadu Buhari will pass the WASC in English, Math and three other subjects.”
However, in a swift reaction, the All Progressives Congress (APC) warned that those who are bent on destroying Buhari, on the basis of his certificates might end up destroying the country’s military.
In a statement issued in Lagos on Tuesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party warned that the PDP and the Jonathan Administration were playing a dangerous game by trying to compromise the military to satisfy selfish political ends.
He therefore urged the military, as a symbol of national unity, to beware of those who may be seeking to use it to achieve selfish and divisive ends.
The party said the statement credited to Olaleye, was in direct conflict with what he said on January 4 2015 on the same issue.