Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in last February’s polls, Atiku Abubakar, has appealed to his fellow contestants, Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP) to join him in his battle to unmask President Bola Tinubu as alleged forger of academic certificates.
Atiku made the plea on Thursday in Abuja during a press conference on his litigation in American court against Tinubu over alleged falsification of Chicago State University degree certificate, which through PPD candidate has stridently insisted disqualifies the president from contesting the February election.
According to him: “This quest is not for or about Atiku Abubakar. It is a quest for the enthronement of truth, morality, and accountability in our public affairs.
“In line with this, therefore, I am calling on all well-meaning Nigerians, leaders of thought, our religious leaders, our traditional leaders, our community leaders, our political leaders, and in particular, Governor Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of the NNPP and, the leaders of every political party in Nigeria, and, indeed, every single person who loves this country, as I do, and who wishes nothing but the best for the country, as I do, to join me in this campaign to enshrine probity, accountability and the basic principles of justice, morality and uprightness in our country and in our government. This is a task for each and every one of us.”
The former Vice-President (1999-2007) recalled how he and other democrats for for restoration of civil rule that culminated in soldiers relinquishing political power in 1999, and declared that such efforts should not to come to naught while Nigeria is embarrassed in the comity of nations.
“Today, we are called upon again as a people to uphold and defend the ground rules of elective government in our country. The constitution prescribes the requirements for those who seek the highest elective office in the land.
“It should not take months or, indeed, decades, for the institutions concerned to be able to do their work in establishing the credibility of any certificates presented by candidates for public office.
“We undertook this journey at great cost and for important reasons. The ground rules for legitimate governance in our country need to be upheld, and the reputation of our country is at stake. That affects everyone, Nigerians everywhere”, he said.
Atiku, who has taken his against Tinubu, also a former Lagos State Governor (1999-2007) before the Nigerian Supreme Court, further praised the efforts of those before him who had taken up the task of probing the President’s academic records in the past, especially late human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi, and investigative journalist, David Hundeyin.
His words: “I wish to pay tribute to the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN, who inspired us on this path of discovery. Now, he can truly rest in peace in the assurance that what he started about 23 years ago has come to fruition. Gani’s vindication today gives credence to the saying that no matter how fast a lie runs, the truth will someday overtake it.
“Former American President Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter’. From exposing the Watergate scandal and unravelling the dubious certificates of politicians, journalists have maintained eternal vigilance by bridging the gap and stepping in when other arms of government failed.
“It is for these reasons that commendation must be given to David Hundeyin, an independent journalist whose extraordinary work and those of many more young people like him has become a source of inspiration.
“Special thanks must be given to the millions of Nigerian youths and citizen journalists too who continue to put out the truth online even when no one is listening.
“Indeed, the price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance. They have put the country first in their firm commitment to unravel the truth and hold leaders accountable. This gives me the hope that we have worthy partners in the struggle to reclaim the country we call home.”
He also dismissed insinuations that he is stabbing Tinubu in the back since they were once political allies in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in 2007.
Atiku said that project ended because he objected to Tinubu being his presidential running mate, because it would have produced a Muslim-Muslim ticket in a diverse county like Nigeria, which he opposed and still opposes today.
According to him, Tinubu should instead be grateful to him for saving his political career back then by resisting President Olusegun Obasanjo’s plot to politically “take over” Lagos State along with he rest of Southwest States that were in opposition party Alliance for Democracy (AD).
He equally pointed out that he was not afraid of losing his businesses to a possibly vengeful Tinubu adminstration, because the government of Muhammadu Buhari had already done that by revoking his maritime contracts.
Atiku ended by declaring that he would only stop his challenge of Tinubu’s certificates and electoral victory if the Supreme Court issues a judgement to that effect.
A lawyer in Atiku’s team, Kalu Kalu, explained the implications of the judgement and subsequent release of Tinubu’s university credentials.
According to Kalu, the documents indicate that the president forged the university degree certificate he presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC); that a female gender was indicated in the documents used to gain admission into the institution; that the Government College, Lagos Tinubu claimed to have graduated from in 1970, was not in existence until when it was east in 1974.
Also, the name Adekunle was used in Tinubu’s National Youth Service Corps certificate, and not Ahmed which he now bears, among other discrepancies.