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This doesn’t just legally endorse official mendacity, it also disincentivizes education. It means any Nigerian can claim to possess any qualification, and the only evidence that would be required for such claims would be a mere affidavit. That’s why Nigerian social media is now suffused with transgressively humorous affidavit-supported claimants to all sorts of bogus qualifications. The most humorous yet instructive I have read so far is from someone by the name of Osaze Jesuorobo….
This reminds me of a community college president in California who sent out a mass email to the academic and non-academic staff of his school demanding that he henceforth be addressed as a “Dr.” because some non-descript university in the middle of nowhere awarded him a pay-to-play honorary doctorate. The response of the staff was as sarcastic as it was hilarious. Staff of the community college, most of whom didn’t have PhDs, decided to also prefix “Dr.” to their names; they said they too had been awarded doctoral degrees by some no-name university. The president got the message and dropped his title.
But Nigeria’s situation is graver. Buhari will get away with his subversion of law and decency, and the damage to the nation will be irreversible. Related to this is the controversy relating to the spelling of Buhari’s first name. The tribunal was reported to have said, “The question about whether the name in the certificate is ‘Mohamed’ or ‘Muhammadu’ doesn’t matter so long as the name Buhari is attached to the name.”
That’s a dangerously ignorant thing to aver. A more acceptable statement would have been for the tribunal to say “Mohamed” and “Muhammadu” are different spellings/renderings of the same name. Every time you use a different orthography to spell a name that was originally written in a different orthographic tradition, you often have several variants. Names originally written in Latin alphabets also have different variants when they are written using different scripts such as Arabic, Cyrillic, Chinese, Thai, etc.
I can relate to this. I insist on my name being spelled as “Farooq,” but my primary school headmaster spelled it as “Faruk” in my school leaving certificate. Again, to my utter annoyance, Bayero University spelled my name as “Farouk” on my certificate but, mercifully, my transcript has my preferred spelling. So this isn’t unusual.
Buhari obviously prefers to spell his name as “Muhammadu.” Even in 1961 when he applied for the Nigerian military’s qualifying exam, he spelled it that way. Nevertheless, his principal, who was a white man, spelled his name as “Mohamed” in his recommendation letter to the military on Buhari’s behalf. It was obviously the principal’s variant that went into the official school records.
The tribunal, being the gaggle of incompetent and compromised partisans that they are, couldn’t defend their benefactor on an issue as simple as variants of the spelling of his name.
Buhari shot democracy in 1983 with bullets and left it for dead. But it managed to survive his attempted murder after a prolonged convalescence. Then he came back in 2019 to finally kill it with rigged, poisoned ballots.
But when the story of Buhari’s premeditated murder of Nigeria’s democracy is written, the role the judiciary played in endorsing and legalizing it will take up reams of paper or disproportionately large nibbles of bytes.
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