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Opinion: Buhari As A Product Of Corruption? By Femi Ayelabowo

Let me start by stating that I have always admired General Muhammadu Buhari’s ascetic lifestyle in just the manner I envy President Goodluck Jonathan’s humility. These are virtues that are beginning to vanish in a society that has taken to deification of wealth. That said, beyond Buhari’s ascetics, he has cut the image of straight and incorruptible leader – or so has it been portrayed in the media. It is therefore not difficult to understand why the minders of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are projecting anti-corruption as the only selling point for Buhari in the 2015 general elections. Their singsong, even in the face of the obvious fact that their candidate is rusty and out of tune with the complexity of modern day problems of governance has been, “Buhari will fight corruption”. No problem with that assertion until now.

The problem now is that the public image cut for Buhari as not corrupt on which he is fighting the election down the line has been torn to shreds. With the issue of the authenticity of the former head of state’s certificate now being called to question, the true Buhari is now unravelling. What started out as a mere “storm in a tea cup” and another PDP distraction, according to the APC, has snowballed into a scandal of humongous proportion. Although, General Buhari has tendered a mere statement of result from his old school, which he and his party unfortunately or deceitfully regard as a “certificate”, the matter is far from settled. And how the APC wishes this matter is laid to rest! Not so fast, Mr. Lai Mohammed.

I am not particularly interested in the ongoing inquisition whether the so-called paper General Buhari tendered is genuine or not; whether the University of Cambridge has confirmed (as trending in the social media)that in 1961 Hausa Language, which General Buhari claimed to have passed, was not part of the curricula; whether the name on the tendered “certificate” is Mohammed whereas General Buhari’s true name is Muhammadu; whether he failed mathematics one of the guarantees that his former principal gave before he was accepted in the Army.

However, my honest belief (and I may be wrong) is that General Buhari did seat for the school certificate examination. That being the case, what is then wrong? Why is the war General hedging, lying and fidgeting over this matter? It is too clear as daylight that the APC presidential candidate is hiding something otherwise why would the simple thing of producing his authentic certificate become an issue? Well as it is said, the wind has blown to expose the undergarment of the priest. General Buhari, contrary to his public posturing as an honest and incorruptible leader indeed is a product of corruption. He joined the army without the requisite qualification – or so it seems with the revelation of the army spokesperson, Brigadier- General Olajide Laleye. In a recent press statement by the army, whom the APC candidate claimed were in custody of his “certificates”, revealed that General Buhari joined the Force without the requisite qualification but on the strength of the recommendation of a school principal. Put simply, you need a school certificate to qualify for enlistment as a cadet officer. But did Buhari go through that normal process? No, he had to use “man-know-man” as it is called here, a euphemism for corruption to join the army. All it took was a letter of recommendation from his school principal.

For our “progressives” who have been struck with sudden dumbness as a result of the mess the old General has covered himself with, they must speak up now and admit that General Buhari has deceived the entire nation for many decades. He has equally cheated the system by cutting corners, the very vices he has been speaking hypocritical about. By accepting Buhari into the Army without the necessary papers, somebody with the qualification was denied his or rightful place. That is injustice, pure and simple! And this has been the bane of our country, the reason why we are where we are today. Beyond this point, there is the issue of whether Buhari deserves all he has gotten from the army, including his ranks seeing that he was never qualified at the point of entry. As a university student, I recall the case of some students who were expelled (some of them in their final year) because they lacked the requisite qualification at the point of entry but remedied their situation by taking and passing their WASC examinations later. Yet the university expelled them because they were not qualified ab-initio. What would Buhari and the APC be telling those students who paid the price of trying to cheat the system now? And as if to rub salt into the injury, General Buhari continued in his corruption by stealing from the people their elected government in 1983, when he forcefully seized power from Alhaji Shehu Shagari and suspended the Nigerian Constitution. Today, he is campaigning to be elected president and guess what; the major thrust of General Buhari’s campaign message is fighting corruption. Please give us a break General!

It is indeed disheartening that APC is treating the scandal surrounding its presidential candidate rather cavalierly, without any respect for the sensibility of Nigerians whom they have been deceiving with the holier-than-thou image of Buhari. The same party that has been threatening to shun the judiciary for a parallel government if they lose the February 15, election is now asking PDP sarcastically to go to court if they so wish over their duplicity in the Buharigate. Even so, it is more worrying that some people are arguing that a matter of integrity of a candidate in a presidential election does not matter because as they say, “the train has already left the station”. Let me remind those working hard to sweep the issue of certificate scandal and the fact that General Buhari subverted the system to join the army of the case of a certain American politician, Gary Hart. Hart was the leading democratic presidential candidate in the 1988 presidential election until what started as a rumour was confirmed by the media that he was having an affair with a certain woman, Dona Rice. After days of denial, on May 8, 1987, Hart was forced by the media and the American people to withdraw from the race after admitting to the affair even though the opinion polls had tipped him to beat the Republican candidate. But here we are talking of something far more serious (?) than adultery!

For many, when the General began his newfound political romance with some politicians known to be carrying excess corruption baggage including allegations of certificate forgery, it was like “what is Buhari doing with this kind of people?” Today, Nigerians know better, General Buhari is in good company and treading on a familiar path. It is all coming together now why General Buhari was so vicious against the press as a military dictator so much so that he barred the press from publishing even the truth with his Decree No. 4 of 1984. He was hiding something. But no matter what Buhari and his party think, he is no longer the same puritanical General Buhari. He is forever tainted with corruption, perjury, dishonesty and subverting the system. And all these will come to play as Nigerians choose their President in the month to come.

Mr Ayelabowo sent this piece from Ibadan via Femilabowo@gmail.com


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