The uninvited intervention in the ongoing controversy over President Muhammadu Buhari’s senior secondary certificate by the West African Examination Council, WAEC, has further weakened faith in the examination agency’s integrity.
On November 2, 2018, Nigerians watched on national television as an assumed delegation of officials of the WAEC including a Nigerian from its Ghana head office, paid a visit to Aso Rock and presented an attestation certificate to the president. The move was to halt heightening calls on the president to present his acclaimed certificate as required by the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for candidates seeking to contest for posts in the 2019 general election.
President Buhari and 74 others have been cleared to contest. While in 2014 he swore to an affidavit claiming his credentials are with the military, the Army came up recently to dismiss that claim. It said it has in its records only a letter from Buhari’s school principal in 1961 stating he was leaving school to join the army with expressed confidence he was bright enough to pass the 1961 Cambridge/WAEC examination with credits in five subjects including Mathematics and English.
Buhari later backed this up with a Katsina State statement ministry of Education statement of result signed by a school principal embossed with an adult Muhammadu Buhari passport bearing subjects like Yoruba, Hausa and Woodwork, subjects yet to be introduced in the educational curriculum then; languages came in as WAEC subjects in 1974.
The WAEC attestation certificate raised more questions as it neither presented a replica of the earlier statement nor bore a registration number confirming the president’s name is in the authentic register of candidates that sat for the examination in 1961. It also has the president’s adult picture, this time without a cap.
As more queries surface, many are expressing fear that WAEC management has cheapened the institution and thus ridiculed the country and jeopardized the future of those using that certificate as a qualifying examination.
“Our students do well but these days because of cries of exam malpractices ignited usually by WAEC officials, Nigerian certificates are looked down on outside. Some degree students are even forced to undergo extra sessions to qualify for further studies abroad. This new WAEC show of shame will further reduce trust in our system,” a worried parent Mrs Joy Ezedimbu told this publication.
“November 2 every year has been declared the National Forgery Day to commemorate the day forged version of WAEC certificate was officially issued to the president, Federal Republic of Nigeria in a desperate attempt to remain in power,” a lawyer wrote on Facebook.
“If WAEC issued fake attestation to Buhari, it’s possible many Nigerian intellectuals are working with fake certificates,” another said.
The feeling is that WAEC should have kept away from the certificate saga.
“WAEC should have maintained its neutrality in this instead of dragging its name and whatever remains of its image into the saga. WAEC has been noted for its notorierity in leaking its own papers, now it has graduated to leaking its certificate.
“The oddity of the unsolicited rescue mission to President Buhari by WAEC is truly shameful and embarrassing. WAEC as an international examination body need not denigrate her status to come, without invitation, to dance this murky dance,” a deeply worried Nigerian elder stated.
Most disappointed are students whose future is being threatened by unfolding shameful revelations in an anti-corruption regime under a ‘Mr Integrity’.
“What are they trying to tell us in this country, that you can get any certificate and grade you want whenever you want if you have connection? I am afraid that this will not encourage us to believe in WAEC and am sure people outside this country will no longer respect our certificates,” Joseph Oko, a Senior Secondary (SS3) student in Asaba, Delta State lamented.