SALISU BUHARI resigned from the House of Representatives over allegations of certificate forgery and age falsification.
He claimed that he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Toronto, Canada in 1990!
He also claimed to have gotten a Diploma in Accountancy from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, in 1988, and that he served under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in 1991.
Also, Salisu Buhari was said to have been born on 3 January 1963.
It later emerged that Salisu Buhari was actually born on 3 January 1970, making him 29 years old at the time he contested and won election to the House, whereas the Constitution pegs the age limit for a member of the House at 30*. It was also revealed that he actually got admission into ABU but that he was withdrawn because he falsified his credentials.
On 22 July 1999, exactly 49 days after his election, Salisu Buhari threw in the towel on the floor of the House.
The story of Salisu Buhari is a testament to the fact that a man could err, admit his errors, apologise and resign honourably.
Below is the speech he read to his 259 colleagues on that August occasion:
Since the handover of the military and the subsequent inauguration of the House of Representatives, the House has focused on meeting the hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian people.
I must thank you for the great honour you conferred upon me when you elected me Speaker of this august Assembly. Since electing me, you have been virtually unanimous in your support for me. Consider, therefore, how sad and distressed I was when this House and the nation were scandalized when questions were raised relating to my qualification to be a member of this House.
The controversy generated by that issue has greatly undermined my authority and prestige, making it difficult for me to continue in office as Speaker and member of this Honourable House. I, therefore, have no alternative but to resign my membership of the House which I hereby do.
I am bound, under all circumstances, to live above suspicion. It was wrong therefore for my conduct to be open to justifiable suspicion as it has been. I apologise to you. I apologise to the nation, I apologise to my family, and friends for all the distress I have caused them.
I was led to error by the zeal to serve the nation. I trust, therefore, that the nation will forgive me and give me another opportunity to serve. I still have faith in the nation and my commitment to her is greater now, seeing that I have wronged it. I have consequently advised my lawyer Chief Rotimi Williams (SAN), CFR to withdraw my libel action against ‘The News’ magazine.
Everything in life is for a purpose and my prayers are that my humiliation will illustrate that in our new democracy, nobody, no matter how highly placed, will be above the law. As I look up from the ground following my fall from grace, I solemnly ask you for your forgiveness for as they say ‘The human soul is strongest when it forgoes revenge and forgives injury.’ I hope that in your own time, you will be able to offer me a helping hand.
Permit me to seize this opportunity to express my regrets and offer my unreserved apologies to all Nigerians at home and abroad for the embarrassment this controversy has generated.
As I leave you today, I urge you all to remember that this House has always been known for order and positive change. It is true that we must progress from hence, but it must not be chaotic progress, for the art of progress is to preserve order amidst change. I have no doubt, therefore, that you, my brothers and sisters are equal to the task ahead.
Finally, I wish to emphasize that the sweet memory of our short but useful time together will forever be cherished in my heart. For now, I bid you farewell and divine guidance for the rest of your tenure. I also wish you success as you labour in the cause of our country and nation-building. I shall never forget your kindness to me. Please remember me in your prayers.
Now, despite his transgressions of falsification of age, forgeries of certificates and lying under oath, Salisu Buhari admitted his errors; apologised to his colleagues and the entire nation; finally, he did the most honourable thing by resigning on 22 July 1999.
That was just over 24 years ago! Salisu Buhari is from Kano State, in the heart of Northern Nigeria.