The former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress, Yekini Nabena, on Saturday knocked trolls and critics of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, over the controversy surrounding his primary and secondary school certificates.
The certificates scandal trended on social media from Friday night to the early hours of Saturday morning.
Tinubu had told the Independent National Electoral Commission that the academic certificates he received from his primary and secondary schools were missing.
The former Lagos governor further averred that he had two degrees from two American universities, which were allegedly stolen by ‘unknown soldiers’ during the military junta in 1994.
He made the disclosure in an affidavit submitted to the INEC as part of his eligibility filings for the 2023 presidential elections.
In the said affidavit, which was released on Friday, Tinubu left the columns for his primary and secondary education unticked.
It read, “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 a 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 the government of 17th November 1993.
“I was the chairman of the Senate committee on appropriation, banking and finance. I was also a plaintiff in one of the two suits against the interim national government in 1993.
“I went on exile when it became clear to me that my life was in danger.”
The internet was agog as a section of Nigerian youths took a swipe at the APC presidential candidate with claims that he was trying to use the same gimmick deployed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari in the build to the 2015 election.
Few others clamoured for his disqualification, citing that the electoral law mandates candidates to submit their personal credentials for public scrutiny ahead of elections.
Reacting to the controversy, the former APC deputy spokesman disclosed that the media trial and claim of perjury was a needless media trial.
He said, “Even in politics, we allow room for propaganda both from opposition parties and critics of a political candidate. We know the opposition will always come up with propaganda.
“It is not enough to be making noise on social media. Let them go to court if they have a case. In the case of Buhari, people went to court up and the case was taken up to the Supreme Court level. But we all know what happened. As far as I am concerned, it is not a problem. So whoever is aggrieved from the opposition can go ahead. It is not something the APC is afraid of.
“We know this is the period the opposition will always want to come up with propaganda. But we are not afraid. It is not a problem for us. The good thing about this electoral law also is that you cannot just kick somebody out over an allegation.
“We know the PDP, especially is not ready for this election. They are obviously seeking ways to use the back door into power. But we thank God for the electoral law.”
When reminded that the same electoral law mandates candidates to submit credentials for public scrutiny, Nabena stated that the party is aware of it but doesn’t see Tinubu’s travail as a serious issue.
“We are not disputing that. Let’s look at it this way. We have about seven months to the election. If there is a grey area or problem with a flagbearer, they can still go back to the primary before the time. That is the beauty of this new electoral law because, with the time frame, it is not the court that will decide who will be the president or governor.
“It is just like what is happening now. The random changing of names and candidates who didn’t do primary within the time frame now want to be chosen to represent their constituency and all that.
“Since there is a time frame, anybody can go to court. The court also has a timeline to finish any legal proceeding so that everything would have been put in place ahead of the election.
“The truth is that the APC is always prepared. And when you are prepared for this kind of thing, there is always Option B, Option C and so on. In the worst-case scenario, there are capable people that can be substitutes. But we are prepared,” he stated.
Efforts made to reach the spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Debo Ologunagba, proved abortive.
Chairman of the Labour Party, Julius Abure and the LP running mate, Doyin Okupe, could also not be reached.
As of the time of filing this story, they neither returned the missed calls nor replied to the SMS sent.