I have had the unwholesome burden of responding to embarrassing questions about Nigeria’s overall credibility as a nation
Having followed the prolonged identity crisis that recently played out in the American Court System and the controversy surrounding the authenticity of the Chicago State University credentials of Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I must confess that I am distressed as a Nigerian.
In addition to the barrage of media frenzy that the matter has triggered at home and abroad, I have had the unwholesome burden of responding to embarrassing questions about Nigeria’s overall credibility as a nation to privileged audiences and individuals both at home and abroad in different parts of the world where I have traveled lately.
To outsiders, the entire Chicago State University matter as well as Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s many other lingering identity question marks has further worsened Nigeria’s less-than-glorious image internationally. Uninformed outsiders now see every other Nigerian as a potential fraudster, certain forger, or identity thief. The controversy is unnecessary just as the implicit global embarrassment could have been avoided.
In my opinion, Chief Bola Tinubu should have saved the nation and himself from this protracted embarrassment and undue anxiety. Even this late in the day, however, Chief Bola Tinubu still owes the nation and the world a simple debt of obligation that only he can discharge. I call on him to immediately and personally mount the rostrum of his present high office to perform a simple task once and for all time. He should re-introduce himself to the nation he governs and to the world for the avoidance of further doubt.
He should let the world know his name, nationality his place of birth, his parentage, the primary and secondary schools he attended with dates as well as the actual universities he attended and certificates obtained. He should indicate clearly where and when he did his National Youth Service. In addition, if at any time he has had a change of name, he should clearly state so and the circumstances. That, in itself, is no crime. This simple task should take no more than a few minutes. It requires no a+davits, prolonged court processes, spokespersons, agents, or surrogates. This task is one that only Chief Bola Tinubu himself through a direct personal statement can perform. He must perform this task urgently in order to lay to rest, once and for the last time, the many lingering doubts and valid speculations about his true identity.
A leader cannot outsource a clear unambiguous personal statement about his identity to political surrogates, social spokespersons, lawyers, or any other persons no matter how highly placed. A matter of the personal identity of a leader is too sensitive and central to the functions of the office he currently occupies to be tried with, outsourced, or disguised under the cloak of officialdom. It is also about integrity, morality, values, and the rule of law that denies the character of the Nation and its people. In his present capacity as a leader of a nation of over 200 million Nigerians, his true identity is a matter of grave national and international interest.
The people deserve to know for a certainty the true identity of their leader and this overrides whatever rights he may have to personal privacy. In addition, the international community deserves to know the true identity of the person with whom they will engage in Nigeria. Having stood for an election to the elevated public office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Bola Tinubu has implicitly undertaken to cede the rights of a private citizen in favour of a life of open disclosure of his true identity, and other circumstances that may be of public interest. His personal integrity demands no less. The legitimacy of the office he currently occupies demands that much and even more. Respect for the integrity and esteem of the Nigerian nation within the community of nations makes it even more incumbent and compulsory.
It is time to do the right thing.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.