By Jude Atupulazi
The biggest news in Nigeria today still remains the Tinubu certificate saga. It has simply refused to go away and seems to gather momentum each passing hour. Indeed, nothing has changed from last week. As the storm continues to rage over this saga, a new dimension was introduced last Wednesday when the presidential candidate of Labour Party, LP, Mr Peter Obi, asked Tinubu to reintroduce himself to Nigerians.
It might have passed as an innocuous remark, but given the circumstances behind the call, it becomes quite a serious blight on the image of the country. For how could such a simple task as telling the people you preside over their affairs whom you are, where you were born, where you were educated and what your certificate contains?
This matter is one that has seemed to love following Tinubu around because far back in his days as Lagos State governor, the same questions being asked today were also being asked, without, of course, any satisfactory answers.
Text of the Press Conference on Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Identity Issues By LP Presidential Candidate. Peter Obi
Having followed the prolonged identity crisis that recently played out in the American Court System and the controversy surrounding the authenticity of the Chicago State University credentials of Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I must confess that I am distressed as a Nigerian.
In addition to the barrage of media frenzy that the matter has triggered at home and abroad, I have had the unwholesome burden of responding to embarrassing questions about Nigeria’s overall credibility as a nation to privileged audiences and individuals, both at home and abroad, in different parts of the world where I have traveled lately.
To outsiders, the entire Chicago State University matter, as well as Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s, many other lingering identity question marks have further worsened Nigeria’s less-than-glorious image internationally. Uninformed outsiders now see every other Nigerian as a potential fraudster, certificate forger, or identity thief. The controversy is unnecessary, just as the implicit global embarrassment could have been avoided.
In my opinion, Chief Bola Tinubu should have saved the nation and himself from this protracted embarrassment and undue anxiety. Even this late in the day, however, Chief Bola Tinubu still owes the nation and the world a simple debt of obligation that only he can discharge.
I call on him to immediately and personally mount the rostrum of his present high office to perform a simple task once and for all time. He should re-introduce himself to the nation he governs and to the world for the avoidance of further doubt. He should let the world know his name, nationality, his place of birth, his parentage, the primary and secondary schools he attended, with dates, as well as the actual universities he attended and certificates obtained.
He should indicate clearly where and when he did his National Youth Service. In addition, if at any time he has had a change of name, he should clearly state so and the circumstances. That, in itself, is no crime. This simple task should take no more than a few minutes.
It requires no affidavits, prolonged court processes, spokespersons, agents, or surrogates. This task is one that only Chief Bola Tinubu himself, through a direct personal statement, can perform. He must perform this task urgently in order to lay to rest, once and for the last time, the many lingering doubts and valid speculations about his true identity.
A leader cannot outsource a clear unambiguous personal statement about his identity to political surrogates, social spokespersons, lawyers, or any other persons, no matter how highly placed. A matter of the personal identity of a leader is too sensitive and central to the functions of the office he currently occupies to be tried with, outsourced, or disguised under the cloak of officialdom.
It is also about integrity, morality, values, and the rule of law that deny the character of the Nation and its people. In his present capacity as a leader of a nation of over 200 million Nigerians, his true identity is a matter of grave national and international interest.
The people deserve to know for a certainty the true identity of their leader and this overrides whatever rights he may have to personal privacy. In addition, the international community deserves to know the true identity of the person with whom they will engage in Nigeria.
Having stood for an election to the elevated public office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Bola Tinubu has implicitly undertaken to cede the rights of a private citizen in favour of a life of open disclosure of his true identity, and other circumstances that may be of public interest. His personal integrity demands no less. The legitimacy of the office he currently occupies demands that much and even more. Respect for the integrity and esteem of the Nigerian nation within the community of nations makes it even more incumbent and compulsory.
It is time to do the right thing.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
From the above, any man being demanded of such in any sane society would have easily provided copious answers to what is being sought. But not Tinubu, not APC or their minions who are only after the food at the table.
This meal-on-the-table attitude is why some people are wasting everybody’s time to try to rationalize what they know is ridiculous and each time they try doing so, they contrive to cast further slur on the image of the nation.
Someone described those of us demanding that Tinubu answer the questions as sore losers; that we should go and lick the wounds of our electoral defeat. All well and good but I’ve always told them that the issue is not about Tinubu but about the good of the polity.
Now see the odium Tinub’s shady history is heaping on Nigeria. How the international community must be laughing at us! But then, mark my words, nothing will come out of this whole thing as far as Tinubu being forced out of office is concerned. This is Nigeria, after all, where the abnormal has since become the normal; a country where the sane is regarded as insane and a country where people laugh in the middle of a tragedy.
But nothing can change the fact that we have a president whose identity will continue to be shrouded in mystery. Call him a ghost president and you won’t be wrong.