‘I dropped out of school because of poverty,’ Tinubu targets public sympathy to boost ‘certificate deficiency’

Reactions have continued to trail the reports that the Presidential Candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, did not submit his primary and secondary school certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Tinubu had in an affidavit submitted to INEC as part of his eligibility filings for the 2023 presidential elections claimed that his school certificates were stolen by unknown persons during the military regime.

The documents released last Friday showed that the APC presidential candidate left the columns for his primary and secondary education unmarked. 

The latest claims however contradict his previous election submission in 1999 when he contested as Lagos State Governor. He claimed both times that he attended primary and secondary schools.

According to him, he attended St Paul Children’s Home School, Ibadan, between 1958 and 1964 while his secondary education was at Government College, Ibadan, between 1965 and 1968. 

The controversies about the former governor’s certificates however started not later than 1999, documents seen by SaharaReporters revealed.

On August 12, 1999, one Alhaji Jameed Seriki wrote a petition accusing Tinubu of perjury and forging the credentials that qualified him to run for the gubernatorial election in Lagos State. 

According to the allegations, there was a discrepancy in the age of the governor since the profile published during his inauguration stated that he was born in 1952 and the age on his transcript at the Chicago State University claimed that he was born in 1954.

“That the governor did not attend Government College, Ibadan, as was stated in his profile and INEC FORM CF.001. 

“The governor did not attend University of Chicago as claimed in INEC FORM CF and an affidavit sworn to at the Ikeja High Court of Justice on 29th December 1998,” Seriki had claimed in the petition.

Consequently, the then Lagos Speaker, Olorunimbe Mamora, on Tuesday, September 21, 1999, set up a five-man ad hoc committee to investigate the allegations and report back to the House. 

The committee comprised Hon. Babajide Omoworare (Chairman), Hon. Thomas Ayodele Fadeyi, Hon. Adeniyi Akinmade, Hon. Ibrahim Gbola Gbabijo and Hon Saliu Olaitan Mustapha.

In its report to the House, the Committee stated that Tinubu appeared before it on Thursday, September 23, 1999. 

“The Governor of Lagos State started his evidence by admitting “full responsibility” for some of the “needless errors” being pointed at in recent publications and which formed the basis of allegations against him. The governor told the Committee that as a result of the acrimonious primaries of the Alliance for Democracy in Lagos State and its attendant crisis, the information contained in both the INEC form and affidavit of loss of certificates was supplied by Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi.

“The governor then submitted to the Committee a copy of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) senatorial candidate form dated June 1, 1992, which he used to contest the 1992 senatorial election as candidate of the party for Lagos West. In the form, which he personally filled, the governor attached the certificates of Richard Daley College and Chicago State University. For his educational qualifications he filled B.Sc Accounting only,” part of the report read. 

It read further, “This according to him demonstrated that ‘needless errors’ spotted in the 1999 INEC form were not consistent and that they were ‘genuine errors’. He further directed the attention of the committee to the INEC form CFO1 that bore a wrong date of twenty-eight December 1999 instead of twenty-eight December 1998. The error he said was made by INEC which printed the form. And not even the Commissioner of Oath detected the error.

“This in his view further confirmed that the hurried and confused manner under which the preparations for the governorship primaries of 1998 were gave room to error on all sides. 

“The Governor spoke about his difficult and traumatic youth and how he scaled the hurdles of life as a self-made man. After his primary education, the Governor said he was admitted into secondary school but he could not further his education because of his poverty.

“The Governor thus had to engage in menial jobs before he proceeded to the United States of America in search of the Golden Fleece. The Governor informed us that in America, he undertook various odd jobs and tried to improve himself academically. After five years of the most harrowing work experience, the Governor said he enrolled at Richard Daley College in Chicago, which among others offers basic, remedial and academic classes, preparatory to entering Chicago State University. He presented a photocopy of a certificate issued by Richard Daley College (City Colleges of Chicago), a copy of which is attached as herewith and marked as ‘Annexure 5’.

“Throughout the time he studied in Chicago, the Governor said he also had to fend for himself and that he actually paid his way through school by working extra hours as a tutor in the same university. He said he studied for extra hours, especially during summer. The Governor said 27 (twenty-seven) credit hours were transferred from Richard Daley College to Chicago State University, where he obtained Bachelor of Science in Business and Administration. His major was in accounting.”

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