There is this latest of ‘cries’ in town; that President Buhari be made to submit his Seniour Secondary School Leaving Certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for him to be able to qualify as a presidential candidate of the APC, otherwise he stands disqualified.
These ‘cries’ is the longest of all cries in the history of Nigeria and Presidential candidacy. It is over 12 years old.
I’d watched with amazement and much sense of disbelief how much many of the national stakeholders makes a mountain out of the molehill on this certificate issue. All I could sense is, Buhari must be stopped at all cost, notwithstanding what matters as law and justice of the matter.
Even when the law is turned upside down in favour of the view that President Buhari must be stopped at all cost, all credits goes to the National scavengers who are professionally theatrical of their being continuously hypocritical about the whole.
The law may be inadequate, but it is clear on what and what is needed for any aspirants to aspire to be Nigerian President. The inadequacies of our law cannot be robbed on what the seeming-want adequacy of the system, by unjustly attacking an individual to produce what the law had not required of him.
By provisions of section 131 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (1999), as amended, President Buhari is not required to submit a certificate to be able to contest an election as Nigeria President.
For ease of reference, I hereunder reproduce the said section as follows:
A person shall be qualified for election to the office of the 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.
The above provisions of law is clear and unambiguous. In the face the provision and its unambiguity, the following questions must be asked;
- Is president Buhari a Citizen of Nigeria by Birth?
- Has President Buhari attained the age of forty years?
- Is President Buhari a member of any political party and/or being sponsored by a political party?
- Has President Buhari been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent?
The answers to the above questions are not far-fetched. To me, all the questions sound more rhetorical than usual because the answers are so obvious and self evidencing that it demands no answer.
The only issue that seems unclear is what definition to be given to ‘School Certificate or its equivalent’ as contained in the provision of section 131(d). But the puzzle on same which could have been a subject of interpretation before a court of competent jurisdiction is already resolved by section 318(1) of same constitution. The interpretation section of the constitution defines “School Certificate or its equivalent” to mean:
(a) A Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent, or Grade II Teacher's Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate; or
(b) Education up to Secondary School Certificate level; or
(c) Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent and –
(i) service in the public or private sector in the Federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for a minimum of ten years, and
(ii) attendance at courses and training in such institutions as may be acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for periods totaling up to a minimum of one year, and
(iii) the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission, and
(d) Any other qualification acceptable by the Independent National Electoral Commission
By the provisions of law above, could it be said that the law requires a certificate for a candidate to contest as president of Nigeria? The facts speak for itself in answer to the questions.
The law is trite that no one is permitted to read into the statute what is not contained therein. See SAVANNAH BANK V. PAN ATLANTIC SHIPPING & TRANSPORT AGENCIES LTD & ANOR (1987) LPELR-3021(SC) pp 124-130 (Para C-E); also TINUBU V. I.M.B SECURITIES PLC (2001) LPELR-3248(SC) where Per KARIBI-WHYTE ,J.S.C held at ( P. 46, paras. B-E ) as follows;
“The liberal approach to the interpretation of our Constitution counselled in Nafiu Rabiu v. The State (1981) 2 NCLR 293, (1988) 12 NSCC 281, does not encourage reading the provisions to neutralise the public policy principle protected by the provision. It has never been allowable and the sacred obligation of the Courts is not to construe any of the provisions of the Constitution to defeat the obvious ends the Constitution was designed to serve…”
Outside the above provisions of law and facts surrounding the missing WASCE Certificate of President Buhari, no one had come out to fault the genuineness of the record of the WASCE results as presented by president Buhari as kept by WAEC and Cambridge. No one had fault the Ex-principal of the Secondary School Buhari went to that he issued the certifcates of three Nigerian Heads of State, Buhari inclusive. No one had faulted the statement of result of the President’s WASCE sat for in 1961. No one had come out to fault President Buhari’s outstanding records of holding public office for tens of decades, No one has come out to fault the Curriculum Vitae and public life of President Buhari which had been repeatedly published and circulated in the public domain and which I hereunder for ease of reference reproduce as follows:
MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S CURRICULUM VITAE
Born in Daura, Katsina State, on 17 December 1942
- Attended Primary School in Daura and Mai’adua,1948-1952
- Attended Katsina Model School in 1953 and Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Government College Katsina) from 1956-1961.
- Joined the then Nigerian Military Training School, Kaduna in 1963.
- Attended Officer’s Cadet School in Aldershot (United Kingdom), October 1963
- Attended Platoon Commanders’ Course at the Nigerian Military College, Kaduna, 1964
- Attended the Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School in Borden (United Kingdom) 1965
- Studied at the Defence Services’ Staff College, Wellington (India), 1973
- Attended the United States Army War College, June 1979 to June 1980.
- Platoon Commander, 2nd Infantry Battalion, 1963-1964;
- Mechanical Transport Officer, Lagos Garrison, 1964-1965;
- Transport Company Commander, 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1965-1966;
- Battalion Adjutant/Commander, 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1966-1967;
- Brigade Major, 2nd Sector, 1st Infantry Division, April to July, 1967;
- Brigade Major, 3rd Infantry Division, August 1967 – October 1968;
- Acting Commander, 4th Sector, 1st Division, November 1968 – February 1970;
- Commander, 31st Infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, February 1970 – June 1971;
- Assistant Adjutant-General, 1st Infantry Division Headquarters, July 1971 – December 1972;
- Colonel, General Staff, 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters, January 1974 – September 1974;
- Acting Director Supply and Transport, Nigeria Army Corps Headquarters, September 1974 – July 1975;
- Military Governor, North Eastern State of Nigeria, August 1975 – March 1976;
- Federal Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, March 1976 – June 1978;
- Chairman, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, June 1978 – July 1978;
- Military Secretary, Army Headquarters, July 1978 –June 1979;
- Member, Supreme Military Council, July 1978 – June 1979;
- General Officer Commanding, 4th Infantry Division, August 1980 – January 1981;
- General Officer Commanding, 3rd Armored Division, November 1981 December 1983;
- Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the
- Nigerian Armed Forces, December 1983 – August1985.
- Executive Chairman of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF), 21 March 1995 – May 1999.
AWARDS AND MEDALS
- GCFR: Grand Commander of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
- DSM: Defence Service Medal
- NSM: National Service Medal
- GSM: General Service Medal
- LSGCM: Loyal Service and Good Conduct Medal
- FSS: Forces Service Star
- CM: The Congo Medal
HONORARY AND DOCTORATE DEGREES
- 10 December 1994: Honorary Doctor of Science degree (honoris causa) conferred on Buhari by Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.
- 21 December 1996: Honorary Doctor of Letters degree (honoris causa) conferred on Buhari by the University of Calabar.
- 6 June 1998: Honorary Doctor of Law degree (honoris causa) conferred on Buhari by Benue State University….
Without going too legal, with the above credentials of President Buhari, do we need any soothsayer or facts-finder to tell us he fulfilled the entire constitutional requirement to contest as the President of Nigeria? Is it so difficult to observe that this Five star General of the Nigeria Army has his rank equivalent to that of Professor in the Academics?
I make bold to say that Millions of Nigerian Graduates, Masters Degree holders, Doctorate Degree holders and Professors don’t have 10% of President Buhari’s Qualification; academically and professionally.
In my humble view, Buhari and Osinbajo are two different professors in their respective fields of profession who are currently leading Nigeria. President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo are well read and experienced than any Nigerian President and vice president since the advent of the fourth Republic in 1999.
What is the justification for the statement above? I will answer; The peak of being a university teacher is to attain professorship, the peak of being a Lawyer is to be SAN, the peak of being an Army is to be a General E.t.c.
I would hereby ask a simple question, where was Atiku Abubakar when General Buhari was leading troupes to war for the sake of Nigerian peace and stability? Where Was Atiku Abubakar when President Buhari was fighting tooth and nail to keep the unity of this country? Where was Atiku Abubakar when the Biafra War almost tore apart the nation he wishes to be president over?
I make bold to say that President Buhari had been selfless all his life. All his accusers had grown up only nurturing their ambitions, feelings and wetting their appetites; some with women, some with wine, some with weed, some with accumulation of properties and wealth. They have never sacrificed for this country than towards selfish ends.
Let us close our eyes, pretend and assume that President Buhari is not good in business as Atiku claims and that all Atiku’s wealth were consequent upon to his hardwork and not stolen funds as being widely alleged. Let’s pretend not to be aware of what ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo wrote about him as his vice at page 32 of his book, ‘My Watch’ which has stood unchallenged till date; Could Atiku Business had prospered if Nigeria is torn apart by war, hostilities or distress? Could his so called achievement have been possible without peace?
Any man who cannot respect your chosen career should please ‘japa’, as life is a matter of choice. You should be more respected if your chosen profession has more to do with service, selflessness, honour, saving lives, sacrifice and towards for common good of all. That is General Buhari’s Profession. May God bless the Nigeria Army.
Methinks, How could someone who holds a National Diploma since 50 years ago without anything else or more be said to be well read and educated than a professor of war in practicals and academics?
Buhari towers above his majour opponent by experience; being a Military head of state and now president of our dear country which Atiku had never. This outside President Buhari's other experiences and virtues as honesty, selflessness, dedication, contentment, maturity and gracefulness among others; not possessed by his opponents.
President Buhari had being serving in the public sector of Nigeria decades before many Nigerian youths were born. He had served as public officer in the Nigeria Army for decades, which is a constitutional qualification on its own. He had held several public offices for decades, which is another qualification on its own. He has more than enough trainings among others tp satisfy his constitutional requirements.
INEC under the constitution is given wide range of powers and discretion to determine whatsoever by section 131. If INEC requires Buhari’s proof of residence and demands his NEPA bills as proof, it is much stronger to be complied with than a certificate that is never mentioned.
By my judgment and common sense-supposed opinion, aside the integrity issue which President Buhari is unflawed and unparalleled, checking and judging from various records of the duo, I make bold to say that President Buhari had read far and wide, He is more read and experienced by all standards than Atiku Abubarkar. He has more than enough certificates, more than enough certificate equivalents, experiences and credentials demanded for as criteria by the constitution of Nigeria to contest and hold the Nigeria President's office.
My name is Richarmond O. Natha-Alade, I just want to make an uncommon sense!
Richarmond O. Natha-Alade is a legal Practitioner and Principal Partner at
Sun Natha-Alade & Partners (SNATHAP)
SOURCE :The Nigerian Voice (opinions)