The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on Friday, published the particulars of candidates for the 2023 general elections.
The publication has been followed by animated discussions among Nigerians on social media on the academic credentials of some of the presidential candidates.
In the front burner of the discussions are questions around why the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, provided no information on his primary and secondary education.
Stating his occupation as “POLITICIAN,” the 70 years old APC National Leader claimed he obtained a B.Sc degree in Business and Administration from Chicago State University on June 22, 1979 before participating in the compulsory national youth service from November 12, 1982.
Although not seen by PREMIUM TIMES among Mr Tinubu’s published particulars at the INEC office, he swore to an affidavit that his certificates are missing.
“I went on self-exile from October 1994 to October 1998. When I returned I discovered that all my property, including all the documents relating to my qualifications and my certificates in respect of paragraph three above, were looted by unknown persons.
“My house was a target of series of searches by various security agents from the time the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was forced to adjourn following the military takeover of government of 17th November 1993,” the two-term former governor of Lagos State claimed in the court affidavit.
Some Nigerians want to know more about Mr Tinubu’s past than what he revealed to INEC.
Similar concerns were raised over his background when he contested for governor in 1999 and 2003. The late human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi filed a suit asking the courts to compel the police to prosecute Mr Tinubu for perjury and forgery after a petition accused him of those offences in his filings with INEC in 1999.
After the Supreme Court dismissed the suit on the ground that Mr Tinubu had immunity as governor against being prosecuted in court, the Lagos State House of Assembly investigated the matter and absolved Mr Tinubu of the charge of gross misconduct.
Mr Tinubu is considered by many political commentators as the candidate to beat in the 2023 presidential race, the reason for the intense public attention on his candidature.
The former Lagos governor’s spokesperson, Tunde Rahman, did not respond to calls to his phone lines at the time of filing this report when this reporter tried to seek further clarifications on the issue.
Atiku not exempted
PREMIUM TIMES scrutiny of the published documents by INEC picked up a similar thing about two or more candidates.
Despite not being a novice in the contest for president, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, also has a few questions raised about his academic credentials.
Mr Abubakar, who served as vice president from 1999 to 2007, will be hoisting the PDP presidential ticket for the second time in 2023. He had lost to President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 election.
Mr Abubakar also did not provide information on his primary education. The 1965 West Africa School Certificate (WASC) result presented by the 75 years old candidate identified the student as Siddiq Abubakar. He also holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from Anglia Ruskin University in the United Kingdom.
Before joining politics, Mr Abubakar worked with the Nigeria Custom Service until he retired from the agency in 1989 at the rank of Deputy Director.
Mr Abubakar’s records show that he attended Jada Primary School, Adamawa State, but that information is missing in his published biodata by the INEC.
“Well, I think it is INEC that you should be making those enquiries to. Whatever it is that they published was not in my hands,” Paul Ibe, a spokesperson to Mr Abubakar told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday.
“I don’t know what was submitted to INEC and what was not. So INEC is in the best position to know what it received and what it did not receive,” he said when asked about lack of information on the candidate’s early education.
His running mate, Ifeanyi Okowa, also did not state his primary education in the published documents.
The two candidates are being tipped to give the APC and PDP candidates a run for their money. Unlike Messrs Tinubu and Atiku, Mr Kwankwaso provided full information on his academic credentials.
He bagged his first leaving certificate in 1968 and his secondary school certificate in 1975.
Mr Kwankwaso, 66, has Craft Training Certificate, ND, HND, Post Graduate Diploma, M.Sc and Ph.D, which he recently concluded.
He attached a copy of his provisional Ph.D certificate with his thesis on Design and Construction of Irrigation System in Northern Nigeria.
Before resigning in 1991 to join politics, Mr Kwankwaso had worked at Water Resources and Engineering Construction Agency (WRECA) for over 15 years.
Among the four top contenders in the race, he is the only candidate who has served as governor, lawmaker and minister.
Much celebrated in his huge social media fan base, Peter Obi is the candidate of Labour Party (LP) which he joined last month after quitting the PDP.
With a knack for quoting figures/statistics at every given opportunity in any public discourse, the two term governor of Anambra, identified himself as a politician and business executive.
Mr Obi attended primary, secondary and tertiary schools between 1973 and 1984.
Before joining politics, he had worked at Fidelity Bank in Lagos, but he did not stay the years in the INEC published documents.
Mr Obi, 61, is the youngest among the top four presidential candidates.