Dispute Between Presidency and Atiku Over Tinubu’s INEC Certificate Submission

The Presidency has denied allegations that the certificate President Bola Tinubu submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for his 2023 presidential bid was fake.

In a statement issued yesterday, Temitope Ajayi, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, said that Chicago State University, CSU, did not admit that the certificate was counterfeit in its affidavit.

He further stated that the university confirmed under oath that Tinubu was a student and a graduate of the institution and that the school does not issue replacement certificates for lost ones.

Ajayi’s statement came as Yusuf Tuggar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the administration of President Tinubu was focused on delivering on its promises and would not be distracted by “trivial matters”, referring to the legal challenge by Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2023.

However, Paul Ibe, the Special Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, dismissed Tuggar’s remark as “irresponsible and shameful” and contradicted Ajayi, saying that the affidavit from CSU showed that Tinubu forged his documents.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party, LP, expressed concern that the controversies surrounding Tinubu’s academic credentials were tarnishing Nigeria’s reputation among other countries and said that it was waiting for the Supreme Court’s verdict on the matter to take a final stance.

Ajayi in his submission said there is no truth in such claims as no man can forge a certificate he already possesses and it is only what you don’t have that you forge.

Taking to his X account (formerly Twitter), the presidential media aide wrote: “We should be clear. In the deposition made by the Chicago State University, there was nowhere the University said the certificate presented to INEC by President Tinubu was fake.

“The University insisted under oath that President Tinubu graduated with honours and even at that, replacements for lost certificates are done by vendors, not the University.
“The claim that President Tinubu submitted a fake certificate to INEC does not make sense. A man cannot forge the academic records he possesses. You can only forge what you don’t have.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, has also dismissed the allegations that President Tinubu’s academic records from the CSU are fraudulent. He said that the president’s administration is focused on the major issues of development and does not want to be distracted by such “trivial matters”.

Tuggar made this remark on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, in response to the questions about the authenticity of the president’s degrees. He said that the allegations do not affect the president’s credibility or his recent international engagements.

He also compared the situation to that of a former president, Muhammadu Buhari, who faced similar accusations over his academic qualifications.

“Nobody is wasting time about certificate qualification for somebody who has been a governor of a state, served two terms, and has been on the national stage as a politician.

“You remember that (former) President Buhari had to go through the same thing, where people were actually questioning whether he went to secondary school or not. Someone who had classmates, was a captain; he was a head boy,” he said.

The minister claimed that none of the international meetings the president had attended and interacted with showed interest in the saga.

“The foreign leaders that we’ve been engaging and the international organizations clearly are disinterested in wasting time on such. We pay no mind to that,” Tuggar stated.

Mazi Ibe criticized Ajayi and Tuggar’s statements, saying: “The Foreign Affairs Minister is reckless. How can he, as a foreign affairs minister, make such a remark? Is he condoning forgery and perjury? That is the implication of the deposition on Tuesday that Tinubu falsified the certificate he submitted to the INEC for the 2023 election. His comment is very disgraceful and unacceptable.”

When asked if Atiku would take the CSU’s disclosure on Tinubu to the Supreme Court, Ibe said, “that is for the lawyers to decide. I am sure they are working on that.”

Atiku has until today (October 5) to present new evidence at the country’s Apex Court as part of his appeal against the confirmation of President Tinubu’s election by the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, PEPT.