In recent times, President Bola Tinubu’s academic qualifications have been a subject of intense scrutiny and controversy, with allegations of forgery circulating on social media.
However, a thorough examination by the BBC’s Global Disinformation Team has shed light on the authenticity of the diploma President Tinubu submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The controversy surrounding Tinubu’s academic documents emerged following the release of his academic records by Chicago State University (CSU) last week.
These records were made public in response to a judicial case filed in August by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who sought to disqualify President Tinubu based on claims of falsification of the CSU diploma in Business Administration awarded in 1979, which he submitted to INEC.
A copy of the diploma CSU awarded to Mr Tinubu in 1979.
Copies of diplomas with similar font, seal, signatures, and wording awarded to other students by CSU in 1979.
The BBC’s Global Disinformation Team gained access to the deposition transcript provided by Abubakar’s spokesperson, Phrank Shaibu.
They conducted an in-depth analysis of the various diplomas issued by CSU and compared them to the one submitted by President Tinubu to INEC.
The original diploma from 1979, which Tinubu claimed to have lost during his exile in the 1990s.
The second diploma, submitted to INEC, which resembled CSU’s diplomas from the 1990s.
Another replacement diploma held by CSU, likely from the early 2000s, which Tinubu never collected.
The controversy stemmed from the visual differences between the diploma submitted to INEC and the 1979 CSU diplomas.
However, the discrepancies were explained by the fact that the diploma had been re-issued in the 1990s.
CSU’s diploma template had evolved over the years, meaning that any request for a new diploma would resemble the template of the time, not the year of graduation.
Crucially, three of the diplomas dating from the 1990s released by CSU bore a striking resemblance to President Tinubu’s.
This alignment, despite minor variations, provided evidence that the diploma submission was not forged.
Furthermore, the absence of part of the university logo on the copy submitted to INEC was attributed to the photocopying process.
The BBC’s analysis revealed that the missing section was a result of the photocopy, supporting the diploma’s authenticity.
One of the claims against the diploma’s legitimacy was the phrase “with honors.” While this phrase was not present in other CSU diplomas, it was confirmed in the diploma issued to President Tinubu in the early 2000s.
Mr. Westberg, during his deposition, authenticated this particular diploma as it remained in CSU’s possession, never having been collected.
CSU was contacted by the BBC for clarification on its diplomas, and they reiterated their confidence in the accuracy of their records regarding Tinubu’s attendance and completion of graduation requirements.