Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has described the controversy over the educational qualification of the All Progressives Congress presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, as the degeneration of political campaign to triviality.
Mr. Obasanjo who was speaking during the launch of his latest book, “My Watch”, in London, said there was no way Mr. Buhari would have been admitted into the army in the 1960s if he did not have the Cambridge Secondary School Certificate or West African Secondary School Leaving Certificate.
“When I joined the army in the 1950s I needed to have a Cambridge Certificate or West African certificate, GCE, to be able to join the army, and I don’t know of anybody who was an officer at that time that didn’t have similar certificate. Buhari joined the army about four years after me and I needed such a certificate to be admitted into the army, I don’t know how he could have avoided such a certificate,” he said.
Mr. Obasanjo said even if Mr. Buhari did not have a secondary school certificate as alleged, the training and education he received while in the military surpassed the secondary school certificate, which is the minimum qualification under Nigerian law for anyone running for the office of the president.
“Assuming he avoided the certificate, Buhari went through a military academy. He went through what we called Staff College, which would be a minimum equivalent of a first degree. He went through, in America, what they called War College, which would have given him an equivalent of Masters Degree and our constitution or electoral law requires school certificate and rather for us to campaign and debate on real issues we then degenerated to triviality,” he said to a loud applause from the audience.
The educational qualification of Mr. Buhari, who is a former Head of State and retired Major General, became contentious after he submitted an affidavit to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, saying his academic credentials were with the military. The Military, however, said it was not in possession of Mr. Buhari’s credentials.
Following the controversy, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party pushed for Mr. Buhari’s disqualification from the presidential contest, but Government College, Katsina (formerly Provincial Secondary School, Katsina), which is the school he attended, later released Mr. Buhari’s secondary school certificate examination results.
The PDP dismissed the results as forged.