The inability of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, to present even the minimum requirement of just a leaving school certificate questions his moral and other credentials for pursuing the position of the president of Nigeria. The current shocking disclosures bring to the fore how and what qualifications were used to recruit him into the military, without a minimum school leaving certificate, where he rose to the rank of a General and even became the Head of state through a military coup that truncated a democratically-elected government in 1983.
Beyond the moral burden of human rights abuses and other sundry anti-democratic practices in his public records, we find that even in other spheres of democratic practices and, in particular, on the matter of due processes, his disdain for democratic conduct has not changed. Academic qualification is a threshold issue that cannot be waived for any citizen no matter how highly-placed and irrespective of whichever region such individual comes from except as provided by the constitution. Thus the question must be asked; is Buhari or any other citizen qualified to contest election into the office of the president without meeting the minimum constitutional requirement?
A perusal of the Nigerian constitution at section 131 unequivocally states that; “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of President if: (a) He is a citizen of Nigeria by birth (b) He has attained the age of forty years(c) He is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and (d) He has been educated up to at least School certificate level or its equivalent. It is to be noted that section 131 (d) is a specific directional order for all candidates to show proof of education up to a minimum standard not below school certificate or its equivalent.
But from what INEC has published, Buhari has not submitted any personal particular of minimum school leaving certificate for the 2015 election and, shockingly, from INEC documents displayed in all constituencies, he also did not submit anything in 2011 and never referred the electoral umpire then to the Secretary of the Military Board as well as previous elections he contested as evidenced in all available INEC records until this current discovery.
If the constitution did not require proof, it would not specify a minimum. To strengthen this claim the extant Electoral Act directs that such proof must be sworn to by each candidate at a Court under section 31 (2) to (5) viz (2)“The list of information submitted by each candidate shall be accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the candidate at the Federal High Court, High Court of a state or the FCT, indicating that he has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into that office” (3) “The Commission shall within 7 days of the receipt of the personal particular of the candidate,(emphasis here is personal particular and not INEC form given to fill nor court document like affidavit) and publish same in the constituency where the candidate intends to contest” (4) A person may apply to the Commission for a copy of nomination form, affidavit and any other document submitted by a candidate at an election and the Commission shall, upon payment of a prescribed fee, issue the person with a certified copy of the documents within 14 days” (5) “Any person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false may file a suit at the Federal High Court, High Court of a state or FCT against such person seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false” (6)” If the court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit of any document submitted by that candidate is false, the court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate from contesting the election.”
It should be noted that for elections to the office of the president and for the purpose of display of particulars of candidates for all presidential elections, the entire country is taken as one constituency i.e. the 774 LGAs of the 36 states including the FCT where these particulars have been displayed. Nigerians that have perused the affidavit of nomination as submitted by General Buhari and as published in all INEC offices, as well as the copies of his similar INEC documentations for 2011 election, could see clearly that General Buhari who claims to be a man of integrity has not been true to Nigerians. It can be seen, as indicated in section 31(6), that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a false deponent was declared in the affidavit where it indicates that all documents relating to the personal particulars of General Buhari are with the Secretary of the Military Board. First in the INEC Form CF 001 for 2015 filled by General Buhari at section C of the form, the instruction on the form clearly states “Attach evidence of all educational qualifications” – THIS WAS NOT DONE.
Yet an affidavit was sworn otherwise. Curiously, he did not refer INEC to this board in 2011 in his records available for anyone who cares to see how Buhari has, in breach of the constitution of 1999, contested elections without meeting the mandatory constitutional requirement and has been treated preferentially.
THE QUESTION TO ASK INEC: IS BUHARI ABOVE THE LAW OF THE LAND OR SHOULD WE SUSPEND OR AMEND THE LAW TO ACCOMMODATE HIM? It is common knowledge that military board like any other bodies do not keep or retain original copies of personal particulars of individuals such as birth certificates, passports, and academic credentials of any personnel, especially retired personnel after over 3 decades. It must be stated that INEC erred in law by publishing the name of a candidate without receiving the personal particulars of the candidate within 7 days of receiving his nomination forms as indicated in section 31(3).
This is indeed a tragedy illustrating what Nigeria has become, that an individual is so powerful that the law has to be ignored to accommodate him. Certainly, INEC printed nomination forms or High Court affidavits are, in no way or by any stretch of definitions, the same as personal particulars such as school leaving certificate.
The Nigerian constitution has now been finally rubbished and no longer respected. What is even more tragic is the fact that one or two otherwise respected Yoruba political elites are the ones in the vanguard of thepromotion and defence of Buhari in this rape of the Nigerian Constitution.
This is the same Buhari who had shown disdain for the South West when he sent people to ransack the home of Pa Awolowo without a court warrant. And the same man who felt that because Lagos is in the south and would develop too fast ahead of the north, cancelled the metro-line project and went ahead to pay millions of United States dollars in compensation that was more than what was needed to have the project completed for Lagosians.
It is a paradox that the so-called leader of Buhari’s team claims to be from Lagos. The whole essence of the provision of the law, as quoted above, for citizens to apply for certified copies of such personal particulars is now defeated. How could citizens obtain from INEC a certified true copy as required by law when INEC has been referred to the Secretary of Military Board? That the candidate, General Buhari, from records available has perpetuated this contempt and disdain for due democratic process, in a serial form since the beginning of this democratic dispensation, shows that our democracy is in trouble because it is now the rule of men and not the rule of law. This shameful development, when added to the weight of his record of civil rights abuses while in office, shows he is an incorrigible, anti-democratic character who has complete disdain for due process and the rule of law.
That INEC saddled with a statutory duty to promote good knowledge and practices of democracy (Section 1(2) of the extant Electoral Act) published as a candidate in all its offices the affidavit of a candidate whose personal particulars it did not receive within the prescribed time frame by law is most unfortunate, to say the least.
Our Conclusion: BUHARI, FROM THE ABOVE, IS NOT QUALIFIED TO CONTEST THE 2015 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION