Would Muhammadu Buhari, the APC-chosen champion for the presidential seat, release a proof of his academic qualifications that has been tampered with? This question haunts the minds of many Nigerians since the beginning of the "Buhari certificate" controversy.
A number of Naij.com readers have drawn our attention to the article by Bucky Hassan, entitled Question and Answer on Buhari's Certificate. Bucky Hassan is a London, UK-based public policy analyst writing for TheCable, SkytrendNews and USAfricaonline.com.
According to our findings, a pro-Buhari community, General Muhammadu Buhari 2015 Support Group Centre, have reposted the above-mentioned article to their official Facebook account from another Buhari supporter, Ibrahim Sanyi-Sanyi. The article was mentioned by users of Nairaland forum and, apparently, appears in its full form on SkytrendNews, and it seems to contain explanations to many aspects of the "Buhari certificate" controversy.
As posts fly about questioning the validity of Buhari's certificate, I've compiled a few answers to some of the most common questions/statements.
It is a very serious accusation to claim that the Buhari campaigners will forge educational documents and the Katsina Ministry of Education, and Government College Katsina will help them do so. As anyone from the PDP, the media or the public can immediately approach these organisations to ask for the original documents, it makes no sense for the APC to do that. If it believes the documents to be a forgery, the PDP can approach the courts to compel WAEC to release the original certificate to the courts.
This reminds me of the Obama birth certificate saga. There are many people who still claim it is a forgery!
1) Why are the dates on the certificate stamped 2015, and not 1961?
Answer: "The stamp and date served as authentication that the document was truly retrieved from the records of that Secondary School and it emanated from there. And, it must bear the date it was forwarded! And, Cambridge University also sent a computer print-out of the same certificate! So, the certificate itself bears 1961, while the stamp of the retrieving and forwarding establishment bears the date the retrieved document was forwarded (i.e. today's date). I am a professional administrator." - Olasunkanmi Sukky Adeleke.
2) There was no Primary 6 in Nigeria in the 1960's. Why did Buhari leave secondary school at 18-19?
Answer: Please see this write-up on Nigeria's educational history from pre- colonisation to date. In the 1950s and at least the early 1960s, Nigerian children spent 6 years in primary school, and 7 years in secondary school.
"In the 1950s, Nigeria adopted the British system called Form Six that divided grades into six elementary years, three junior secondary years, two senior secondary years, and a two-year university preparation program. Those who scored high on exit examinations at the end of Form Six usually were qualified to enter universities."
3) The Army said Buhari had a pass in English but his certificate shows a credit in English.
Answer: The Army actually said he had a pass in English literature and a credit in the English language. Many [people] heard "pass in English literature" and immediately jumped to the conclusion the Army meant English grammar. This link provides copies of the Army's letter and other documentation in Buhari's file.
4) If the certificate is false, why is the Buhari campaign confident enough to provide it to the press?
Answer: The Buhari campaign freely releasing this document to the media is the strongest piece of evidence that the documents are real.
With all the information provided on the documentation, anyone can directly approach the Cambridge exams board, WAEC, the Katsina Education Ministry and Government College Katsina, to verify the information. With the examination number given on the certificate, it will be easy for those organisations to respond quickly. Please remember that this certificate was released directly by Katsina College who made a copy available to Premium Times.
5) Why is his name spelled Muhammadu Buhari, but is Mohamed Buhari on the certificate?
Answer: Nigerian names commonly have many different variations of spellings, and it is not uncommon to find Nigerians with different spelling variations of their names on different documents - certificates, passports, birth certificates etc. Some people will always insist on spelling one's name the way they prefer even after seeing the correct spelling written out!
6) As Katsina State was not created until 1987, why is this certificate on the letterhead of the Katsina State Ministry of Education?
Answer: Buhari's secondary school used to be known as Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, but is now called Government College Katsina. It is located in what used to be Katsina Province but became Katsina State in 1987. As Katsina College is issuing a certified copy of Buhari's original documentation, they have transcribed it upon the official certificates used by the State today. It is why the exam is dated 1961 but it is stamped and dated by the principal on 21/1/2015 - the date the school reissued a copy of the certificate.
7) Why does the certificate show a contemporary photograph of Buhari today?
Answer: Buhari sat for the exams of the Cambridge University West African School Certificate - which is the exam body that set the exams at the time. Photographs were not a requirement to be put on the certificate. However, WAEC now issues certificates with the photograph of the candidate. Thus to satisfy the protocol of today, his current photograph has to be on the certificate.
8) Buhari has a credit in Hausa language. Surely Hausa language was not taught in schools in 1961?
Answer: The educational system in Northern and Southern Nigeria in the Colonial era was very different. Hausa was the official language of the Colonial administration in Northern Nigeria. Hausa was taught in colonial schools all through the colonial era.
"Hausa in the Twentieth Century: an overview" by John Edward Philips is particularly instructive. Page 25 talks about Hausa being the official language of the Colonial government in Northern Nigeria.
9) Can any of Buhari's classmates verify he sat the exams in 1961?
Answer: Coomassie (ex-Inspector General of Police) and Justice Abdullahi (former President Court of Appeal of 10 years) have both confirmed they were Buhari's classmates and all sat the WAEC examinations at the same time.