The All Progressives Congress (APC), on Friday, rose in defence of its presidential candidate, former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, over the controversy trailing his academic qualifications.
Also on Friday, the Nigerian Army authorities explained that they do not keep original certificates of officers and men of the armed forces, adding that their personal files contained only photocopies of credentials.
Buhari’s academic qualifications to run for president in the February 14 election became an issue following the disclosure that he deposed to an affidavit informing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that his credentials were with the military secretary.
Speaking with the Saturday Tribune, on Friday, on the controversy trailing the discovery, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the controversy was an assault on the institution of the military.
He added that the insinuation that Buhari was without the requisite academic qualifications before rising to become a general in the army was an insult to the officers that had served the nation.
Mohammed wondered on the kind of politics that would make anyone to think that Buhari would rise to the apogee of his career before becoming the head of state, by being shielded by the system over the academic qualification that was needed for the special military trainings and qualifications he got.
According to him, “how can anyone say someone of General Buhari’s calibre didn’t have secondary school certificate after his career in the military? What kind of politics are we playing? What kind of signal are we sending? Whereas in the developed world, there are certain courses in the military such as staff college or command that are on the privilege of bachelor or masters. Now, if you are now making provocative comments about someone of the status of General Buhari over an issue that one way or the other would soon be sorted out, you are casting aspersions on the entire military and those who had given service to this nation. It shows the kind of politics some people are playing. This is unfortunate and sad.”
Meanwhile, the army also stated on Friday that it does not keep original certificates of any serving or retired officer or soldier.
A top army officer at the Defence Headquarters disclosed on condition of anonymity on Friday that the army could not keep anybody’s original certificate because it is a personal property of the owner.
According to the source, “the army only has photocopies of officers and soldiers’ certificates kept in their personal files in the military secretary’s office.”
“The original certificate of any officer or soldier is only needed at the point of entry into the service — either as a cadet officer entering the Nigerian Defence Academy, or by recruitment officers when interviewing recruits to be sent to the depot for training. This is so because they are needed to verify what is in the photocopy supplied or for verification from the necessary examining bodies,” he said.
The source stressed that for anybody to claim that his original certificates are with the military secretary (Army) does not hold water.
“Let me tell you now, in the Navy, the Navy Secretary (NAVSEC) keeps photocopies of the documents of all naval officers and ratings and not their original certificates which are their personal properties.
“Also, in the Air force, the Air Secretary keeps the photocopies of all officers and airmen’s certificates, and, if the need arises for any verification, those concerned will be asked to bring the original documents.
“If you start keeping every officer’s or soldier’s original certificates, how many will you keep and if in case there is a fire outbreak, that means all original certificates of those concerned will be burnt.
“There is no way, the military secretary can keep any officer’s original certificate — either serving or retired,” the source said.
The source, however, added that, all his claims did not preclude General Buhari from being qualified or eligible to contest next month’s election. “After all, he attended some of the best military institutions in the world, and rose to the rank of a general and was once a head of state, so the issue of certificate does not make any difference,” the source said.
Meanwhile, a retired general who claimed to be a contemporary of Buhari told Saturday Tribune on Friday, that some of the military courses they did abroad did not require the participants possession of a secondary school certificate.
While demanding anonymity, he explained that the noise being raised over Buhari’s certificate was needless because the constitution allows for an equivalent of school certificate which many of the courses they did abroad would qualify for.
Endorsing Buhari for president, he asked Nigerians to look at his track-record and not a flimsy issue of secondary school certificate in electing him. -Tribune