By Biodun Busari & Miftaudeen Raji
Against the backdrop of controversies trailing the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the Director General of the APC presidential campaign council and the spokesperson, Dele Alake and Festus Keyamo have respectively put up a defence for the APC flag bearer.
Among the controversies trailing Tinubu’s presidential bid is that of identity, with his critics alleging he had changed his names at different times to hide his record.
Read also: Tinubu already wealthy before politics, says Dele Alake
Tinubu’s critics have also claimed that his real name is ‘Amoda Ogunlere,’ an allegation that the former Lagos state governor has distanced himself from.
Alake, while speaking on Tinubu’s certificates during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunday Politics said the controversy surrounding Tinubu’s certificate should not have arisen.
Recall that Tinubu, in his CF 01 form submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had stated that his academic certificates were stolen by unknown persons while he was on self exile.
In his sworn affidavit in support of his nomination form for the office of the president, Tinubu had said he “went on self exile from October 1994 to October 1998 (and) when I returned and discovered that my property including all the documents relating to my qualification and my certificates in respect of paragraph 3 above were looted by unknown persons.”
While critics alleged that Tinubu failed to present his certificates because he used a different name in primary school, ‘Amoda Ogunlere’ has been trending on social media for several days.
Speaking on the issue, Alake said, “Have you ever seen his document showing the name Amoda or whatever? People say we heard, we heard, rumour mongering nobody has ever shown a document like to say this is the certificate with Amoda or whatever.
“I always say that Nigerians should subject this thing to critical analysis. I am not saying that people should not carry rumours because in political environments or political games like this, opponents must dig anything; any dirt, to throw at you. But the point is he who alleges must prove. You must show documentary evidence, I have seen none.
“The issue of primary school you have just mentioned. Let me clear the air today. If you are not old enough, there are people around you who are old enough to know that in those days, when people were indigent and schools were not as many as we have today; a lot of people were indigent and couldn’t afford the school to fees to go to formal institutions and at that time a lot of people did read at home and passed their exams.
“Today I can name you professors who never went to secondary schools who passed their exams from home. Let me even shock you further. The Queen of England of the whole world, she never went to any formal school, not elementary, not any. Go and research it; that is the Queen of England,” he said.
But, weighing in on the conversation during a Twitter Spaces Programme organised by the ABAT (Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu) media team, Keyamo described Tinubu’s ‘Amoda Ogunlere’ allegation as ‘cock and bull story.’
Keyamo, who is the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, said “The Constitution section 131, Paragraph A says you have to be a Nigerian by birth. That’s the first requirement. So if Tinubu is from Osun State or from Lagos State, thank God they are not saying he is from Cameroon. He is not in the mode of those who claimed to come from one part of the country whereas by the time they were born that part of the country was in Cameroon.
“So whether Asiwaju is from Osun, Lagos or anywhere, Asiwaju is from Nigeria. So Asiwaju is qualified. It is very disrespectful and unfair to just generate cock and bull stories against families. Either the family from Osun State, Amoda Ogunlere or the Tinubu family, you are disrespecting the families.
“The Amoda family has not come out to say this is my son or my brother and the Tinubu family has also not denied him. So what are they looking for? Is it that the Amoda family or Ogunlere family are not Nigerians or they are of lesser human beings. They need to tell us what they are saying,” he said.
He added that Tinubu gave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a lifeline when he was “thrown out” of the PDP.
He said at every point in his political career, Tinubu had always put national interest above himself.
According to Keyamo, Atiku’s decision to run for Presidency by not respecting the zoning principle is one of the reasons the opposition party is in crisis.
The minister recalled that Asiwaju in 2007 gave Atiku a soft landing by handing the Presidential ticket of the then Action Congress (AC) to him to contest the 2007 election.
He said, “In 2007, Asiwaju decided to call on Atiku who had been thrown out of the PDP at that time because Obasanjo ordered a re-registration of all PDP members because he wanted to wield out people like Atiku.”
Recall that Tinubu, a former Lagos State Governor, was one of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) Chieftains who fled the country under the regime of the late General Sani Abacha.
Abacha had clamped down on academics, activists and other technocrats opposed to his regime at the time.
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