For The Record
Adedapo Abiodun, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, has declined to clarify aspects of his academic qualifications that have come under intense public suspicion in recent weeks.
Mr Abiodun’s candidacy faces serious threat of being derailed after he was exposed for downgrading the tertiary academic credentials he claimed to have obtained in the past when he submitted his nomination form to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to run for governor in October 2018.
Since the documents were notarised, some interested residents of Ogun State sued Mr Abiodun for perjury, a criminal offense that attracts jail term.
It was reported the court filings last month and also published documents showing how Mr. Abiodun submitted contradictory academic qualifications between 2015 when he ran for Senate and 2018 when he picked up his party’s governorship ticket in Ogun.
The documents showed that Mr. Abiodun told INEC in 2015 that he had a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1989, and was allowed to stand as the APC senatorial candidate for Ogun East in that year’s general election.
Mr. Abiodun was born on May 29, 1960, which made him 29 when he graduated in 1989.
But when he filled a similar space about his academic credentials in 2018, Mr. Abiodun left out his university degree, claiming a high school certificate as his highest academic qualification.
Mr. Abiodun, a businessman with deep roots in Nigeria’s oil sector, was immediately accused of suppressing his claims to a tertiary education because he did not honour call-up for national service after graduation, and consequently failed to obtain a certificate from the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
The politician was accused of expunging the university degree from his credentials because he had taken a serious note of recent scandals involving people who did not participate in the NYSC.
Had Mr. Abiodun submitted his university degree, he would have been asked to attach his NYSC discharge certificate or an exemption certificate if for any reason he was unable to participate.
But since Mr. Abiodun said he finished at age 29, he was mandated by the NYSC Act to take part in the one-year national service.
The NYSC law requires any Nigerian who finished first university degree or Higher National Diploma (HND) before 30 to serve the nation.
Only persons who had passed 30 years before obtaining first degree or HND are qualified for exemption, as well as those who served in the military or obtained national honours.
It is a criminal offence to not take part in national service after graduation, one which the law recommends up to 12 months in prison.
Also, Mr. Abiodun did not say which school he graduated from in his 2015 INEC filings, only saying he had a Bachelor’s in 1989.
His profile on the website of Heyden Petroleum, largely considered his most-prolific oil business, also stated that he had degrees in engineering and accounting at the time the scandal was first reported by PREMIUM TIMES on December 15, 2018.
Mr. Abiodun’s apparent reluctance to clarify his academic credentials despite raging controversy has left many, including his supporters, confused about whether the real problem was about his failure to take part in national service or that he did not obtain any university degree at all.
Asked about his problematic credentials during an appearance on Channels TV recently, Mr. Abiodun declined to respond, hiding behind an ongoing litigation that seeks to disqualify him over the scandal.
“This matter is in court and I am not at liberty to discuss it,” Mr. Abiodun said.
He similarly dismissed the entire controversy around his INEC filings as “being distorted” by his political adversary.
He clarified that he attended Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), but did not graduate.
He, however, insisted on a Bachelor’s degree in accounting, although he did not say what school or which year.
“I do have a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting and I would like to stop at that,” Mr. Abiodun stated.
There have been articles about Mr. Abiodun that described him a graduate of OAU on the Internet, but there is no immediate evidence he ever disclaimed any before this scandal.
The ruling APC has declined to comment on Mr. Abiodun’s scandal, but the party is being closely watched and expected to take action that would not lower the standard it already set when it disqualified one of its top members who failed to take part in national service.
Adebayo Shittu, the Communications Ministers, was exposed by PREMIUM TIMES in September 2018 as having failed to take part in NYSC when he obtained a law degree from OAU in 1978. He was 25 at the time.
Although he was a front-runner for the party’s governorship ticket in Oyo State, prior to PREMIUM TIMES’ publication, the APC wasted no time to disqualify him from taking part in its primaries.
The party said it agreed with PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Shittu had violated Nigerian Constitution by failing to take part in the national service, but President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to keep him in his cabinet, in defiance of both the Constitution and public outcry.
Mr. Shittu’s disqualification by the APC came weeks after Kemi Adeosun resigned as Nigeria’s finance minister, following a PREMIUM TIMES investigation that showed she had forged an exemption certificate of the NYSC to land the top job and others before it.