The storm over the legitimacy of the credential President Bola Tinubu submitted to INEC has managed to rope in former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who instigated it in the first place. But available facts show that neither of them presented forged documents to INEC.
I go where the facts lead me. That means I could say the opposite of what I said earlier in light of new facts, a reason I advisedly used the expression “the best obtainable version of the truth” in last week’s column. I am not invested in any perspective. Tinubu is an unrelieved catastrophe as a president, but I’ll defend the facts even if they favor him.
Here are 7 facts I’ve found so far after reading and rereading all the facts related to this issue:
- Tinubu attended and graduated from Chicago State University in 1979, was issued a diploma (or a certificate, to use the expression that’s familiar to Nigerians), which he collected (I erred when I thought the registrar said he didn’t; See number 3). Apparently, he lost the original diploma in 1979 and was issued a “replacement diploma dated 27 June 1979,” according to the BBC.
Tinubu’s certificate is a tautology because the certificate goes on to read, ‘with all the rights, honours, and privileges partaining therto’.[sic]. None of the 1990s samples provided by CSU showed those words underneath the course of study, and this suggests that Tinubu’s certificate, which was supposedly obtained within the same timeframe, did not emanate from the school.”
That’s a problematic claim. “With all the rights, honors, and privileges pertaining thereto” is a fixed phrase that appears on all diplomas irrespective of their class. The addition of “with honors” isn’t a duplication because graduating with honors is an academic distinction that only a limited pool of students achieve, and some U.S. universities include it in diplomas in addition to the fixed phrase that appears on all diplomas.
In any case, Tinubu’s uncollected 2000s replacement diploma that the registrar showed during the deposition has both the fixed phrase AND “with honors.”
Similarly, the claim that the samples of replacement diplomas issued in the 1990s don’t have “with honors” is a weak argument because CSU only showed uncollected diplomas in its records, not a representative sample of every type and class of diplomas earned or re-issued that year. It could well be that the uncollected diplomas in CSU’s records didn’t achieve the distinction that entitles them to have “with honors” affixed to them.
This issue has demonstrated to me in starkly dramatic terms how partisan blinders can distort people’s perception of reality. When people so badly want something to be true, but it turns out to be untrue, they choose to hang on to the most absurd apophenic hallucinations (i.e., seeing predetermined patterns from a chaos of unrelated phenomena) they can invoke to validate their preconceptions. I’ve studied and taught this phenomenon for years but had never seen it manifest on a mass scale like this.
The only new thing that will change the conversation is a foolproof revelation that Tinubu didn’t meet graduation requirements and was issued a fraudulent transcript that said he did—after the fact—by dodgy university officials. That would establish the legal basis for forgery. Given what I am now reading about the school, I won’t be shocked if this happens. So, I think the answer to the puzzle isn’t on the surface; it’s beneath the surface. Only deep investigation can unearth it.
Finally, the CSU registrar never said, “forgery is a Nigerian thing.” Tinubu sent his lawyer to get copies of his academic records from CSU and requested that the school certify the documents before sending them to him.
Atiku’s lawyer asked if CSU had ever certified documents it sent out, and the registrar said, “No, I believe this was made because it is more of a Nigerian thing.” So, the “Nigerian thing” he referred to was certifying school records for legal purposes, not forgery.
Atiku’s School Certificate
Tinubu’s minions, in their bid to get even with Atiku, dredged up Atiku’s post-secondary school appellative change and are attempting to pass it off as evidence of school certificate forgery against him. But here are the facts.
I don’t know how he came about the name Atiku, but it is the Nigerian domestication of the Arabic name Atiq, which means “ancient.” Some people say it means “freed.” Bangladeshis bear it as Atiqur and Arabs bear it as Atiqullah.
More than anything, though, he swore an affidavit in real time to legalize this change of name. The same can’t be said for Bola Tinubu whom we’ve learned was initially known as Lamidi Amoda Sangodele.