How APC Screened Buhari For Presidential Contest — Tunji Abayomi

Buhari campaigning
President Muhammadu Buhari campaigning at the last presidential election

In view of so much interest shown in the non-presentation of the Certificates of  Buhari, APC Presidential candidate to INEC, much interest has been shown in determining whether he has met the Constitution’s education qualification. As a member of the APC screening Committee, i can affirm unequivocally that Gen. Buhari met the education qualification prescribed by the constitution.

General M. Buhari joined the Nigerian Army in 1962, attended military training before proceeding to Officers Cadets Training at Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, UK. In 1963 he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and appointed Platoon Commander 2nd Infantry Battalion, Abeokuta. During this same period he attended the Platoon Commander’s Course at the Nigerian Military College, Kaduna.He later also attended Mechanical Transport Officers Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School,Borden, UK. General Buhari attended the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, India in 1973 and from 1979 to 1980 as a Colonel, he attended the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Still the question remains, has General Buhari without presenting especially his school certificate or its equivalent met the education precondition set for Presidential Candidates in the Constitution?

To begin with, the Constitution does not prescribe the presentation or show of any Certificate to qualify for election to the office of President. Under section 131(d) of our Military Constitution, a person shall be qualified for election to the office of President if “he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.” While a Certificate may unequivocably show that a contestant has been educated up to at least School Certificate level, his education without a Certificate may show, again unequivocably that he has been educated up to the equivalent of School Certificate level. For example, assuming A is the best all A student in Ajuwa Grammar School, Okeagbe, Akoko. Now on the very day before the commencement of the West African School Certificate, he sexually harrassed the daughter of the English teacher as a result of which he was dismissed, will A be said not to have met the education qualification of section 131(d) of the Constitution?

In my view A has not only been educated up to at least School Certificate level he would also be deemed to have been educated to its equivalent.  This position finds support in section 131(d) which neither prescribed a pass which is required for certification nor a fail which denies it. The interest of the Constitution is with the level of the education of the candidate howsoever acquired, not the certificate he aquires ipso facto.

The APC screening Committee was made up of several eminent highly educated and enlightened men and one Woman.They came to the conclusion after putting APC presidential aspirants through a most rigorous test that all the APC aspirants met the constitutional qualifications including education qualification to contest for election to the office of President. They confirm this by awarding them a certificate. The    qualification set by the Constitution for contest is the level of education not its certificate. While a certificate may irrevocably prove that the education qualification has been met, it could in the same manner prove rebut ably only that it has been met. Where for example a Certificate has been purchased for example in “oluwole” as it has  happened in several instances, a candidate though in possession of a certificate cannot be said to have met the education qualification of the Constitution because he has not been educated not to talk of up to school certificate level.

With reference to General Buhari having regard to his unimpeachable military training, an irrefutable presumption was properly made by the APC screening Committee that he met the education qualification set by the Constitution. Those who contest this or who intend to contest that he met the education qualification of section 131(d) have the burden to disprove the irrefutable presumption not General Buhari.

Tunji Abayomi

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