Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has weighed in on the secondary school certificate scandal involving the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), saying at the time the former head of state joined the military, nobody in the Nigerian Army could have been admitted without a qualification equivalent to a school certificate.
The ex-president was fielding questions during an event to promote his new autobiography, ‘My Watch’ in London during the week, when he revealed that Buhari joined the military four years after him.
In a video of the event posted on YouTube, Mr. Obasanjo while responding to a question on the reference to Buhari as an ‘illiterate’ said, “When I joined the Army in the 1950s, I needed to have a Cambridge certificate or West African School Certificate or GCE with a minimum of six subjects to be able to join the military at the time.
“And I don’t know of anybody, who was an officer at that time and did not have similar certificates.
“Buhari joined the Army about four years after me and if I needed such a certificate to be admitted into the Army, I don’t know how he could have avoided the subject.
“Assuming he was able to avoid that certificate, Buhari went through a military academy, and went through what you call a staff college, which would be minimum, the equivalent of a first degree. He went through what you call a war college in America where he would have got an equivalent of a master’s degree.
“Our constitution or electoral law requires a school certificate (to become President). Rather than campaign and debate on real issues, we then degenerated to trivialities”.
Obasanjo explained that during his secondary school and university days, he had a record that was unrivalled, adding that if anybody were to call him an illiterate or say he is uneducated, “I will say, read my book (My Watch)”.
He explained that Nigeria’s unification achievement after the country’s civil war had not been matched by any other nation.
Obasanjo said, “Nigeria fought a civil war for three years, and we concluded that war by uniting our country. The slogan was ‘No victor, no vanquished’. And we did it.
“Within ten years of the end of that war, Alex Ekwueme, who was on the side of Biafra, became the vice president after an election in Nigeria. No country has achieved such a feat. I think we deserve applause”.