An American university, the Massachusetts Institute Technology (MIT), has said the governorship candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in Lagos State, Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour, attended the school.
The management of the school told PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday that Mr Rhodes-Vivour obtained a Master’s Degree in Architecture after studying at the institution between 2005 and 2008.
The school was reacting to reports circulating on social media suggesting that the governorship candidate did not attend the university.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour has been at the centre of a certificate forgery allegation after an email that purportedly emanated from the office of the Registar of MIT appeared on social media claiming that the candidate did not attend the institution.
The email quoted Nathaniel Hagee, a coordinator at MIT academic record office, that there was no record Mr Rhodes-Vivour graduated from the university.
The mail was alleged to be a response to an enquiry made by a Nigerian on the educational status of Mr Rhodes-Vivour.
Mr Rhodes-Vivour had via his Twitter handle reacted to the forgery allegation as fake news and another attempt by his opponents to divert attention from issue-based campaign.
“It has been brought to my attention that the purported email below is in circulation with respect to my degree from @MIT
“This is untrue and another failed strategy the opposition is using to divert your attention from having an issue-based campaign,” he tweeted.
On Wednesday, PREMIUM TIMES contacted the MIT records office and spoke with Mr Hagee via telephone. He requested us to write a mail on the subject.
This medium immediately followed up as directed and got a response from Mr Hagee that all questions should be directed to MIT’s News Office,. He also did not deny or confirm the authenticity of the email circulating online.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted MIT’s News Office, Sarah McDonnell, Deputy Director, Media Relations, responded that Mr Rhodes-Vivour indeed attended the school and earned a Master’s degree.
“Thank you for reaching out. The MIT Registrar’s Office can confirm that Mr Rhodes-Vivour attended MIT from 2005 to 2008 and earned a Master of Architecture degree,” Ms McDonnell wrote.
This newspaper then followed up with another email to Ms McDonnell, asking if the initial email that claimed that Mr Rhodes-Vivour did not attend the school emanated from the record office.
In her response, MIT spokesperson confirmed the authenticity of the mail, noting that it indeed emanated from MIT. She, however, claimed that the record office initially ran a search using a “variation of Mr Rhodes-Vivour’s name that did not match the information in MIT’s database.”
The MIT Registrar’s Office was initially asked to search for a variation of Mr Rhodes-Vivour’s name that did not match the information in their database. Upon further review, they can confirm that Mr Rhodes-Vivour attended MIT and earned a Master of Architecture degree, as I shared in my earlier email,” she said..
Mr Rhodes-Vivour is contesting against the incumbent governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and 13 other candidates.
His party, the LP, is popular among young people.
During the 25 February presidential election, the LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi, defeated the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, in the state.
Mr Tinubu, a former governor of the state, who is the political godfather of Governor Sanwo-Olu, suffered a humiliating defeat in a state he had politically dominated for over two decades. However, he subsequently won the presidential election.
Following its victory in the presidential election in the state, the party believes it will win the governorship election come 18 March.