The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, John Oyegun, has described as laughable, the raging controversy that the party’s presidential flag bearer, Muhammed Buhari, does not have a school certificate.
In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES Monday, Mr. Oyegun said the matter should not even be discussed as it shows how petty the nation’s politics has become.
“I would like to quote (Olusegun Obasanjo) who said, ‘I dey laugh’, to answer your question because it is laughable that it should even be an issue of discussion,” Mr. Oyegun said in response to questions on Mr. Buhari’s certificate controversy.
“You know the military and you know how they progress from one rank to the other and the several training courses they have to go through in some of the best institutions in the world.
“Even if somebody said he didn’t have Standard Six Certificate, he rose through the ranks, through qualifying examinations to become what he was in this country.”
The APC chairman said that questioning Mr. Buhari’s educational qualification after he had served as Nigeria’s Head of State showed how unserious and petty politics has been reduced to in the country.
Reminded that the law has stipulated the minimum educational qualification for those seeking elective positions in the country, the APC chairman responded in the affirmative.
He, however, noted that the law not only stipulated the minimum qualification but also provide for the equivalent of such qualifications to be tendered.
Having attended courses in some of the best institutions in the world and obtained relevant certificates, Mr. Oyegun argued that Nigerians should not be raising dust over the educational qualification of the party’s presidential candidate.
“The law does not only stipulate the minimum qualification but also says its equivalent. So what is all the bother about? What is it all about? The man went to school. He went to secondary school and that is clear and there is no question at all about that,” Mr. Oyegun said.
“The fact is that it is so childish. Of all the important things they should be talking about is it the certificate they should be talking about now.
“You journalists should talk of ideology and what the political parties have for the country. Why talk about a bloody certificate for a General who has also been the Head of State? For Christ’s sake, let us be serious. It is so petty and makes me think we are not serious at all.”
Mr. Oyegun did not, however, categorically state the specific qualification of the retired general.
Reacting to the controversial video where fiery Catholic priest, Father Ejike Mbaka, lampooned President Goodluck Jonathan, during New Year vigil at the Adoration Ministry, Enugu, the APC chairman said the priest was right in attacking the president.
Mr. Oyegun wondered why the authorities did not complain when another clergyman from a popular Pentecostal church uploaded a sermon laced with gory pictures which linked the APC with the Boko Haram insurgents.
He, however, commended the leadership of the Pentecostal church for coming out to strongly condemn its pastor, who uploaded the offensive sermon and video.
He said, “This is the first time that somebody from a credible religious field has given argued reasons; not based on sentiment, emotion, religion and ethnic colouration. Father Mbaka argued with reasons on why people should not vote for the president that has failed to perform.
“Mbaka is a properly ordained minister of the gospel and he gave all the possible reasons. He even said things I never thought about before now – that here you are in a nation and you have this man as president and corruption has become a style of governance.
“The linkages I did not think about, is that the president has destructive influence. What happened to his former boss, President Yar’Adua, and the governor of his state are uncanny and I have not for a second thought that the president had anything to do with any of these. But it is just uncanny.”
Under Mr. Jonathan’s watch, the APC chairman said the nation’s economy has nose-dived, and allocations to state governments have gone down by almost 50 percent.
According to him, a third of Nigeria’s oil is being stolen while the PDP government continued to drag the country through misrule, poverty and impunity.
“I totally agree with Father Mbaka. If didn’t agree with him, I wouldn’t have joined others to work so hard to bring about the APC,” Mr. Oyegun said.
When reminded that the same priest had in November praised, prayed for and endorsed Mr. Jonathan, the APC chieftain referred to the biblical story of St. Paul who earlier persecuted Christians but later had an encounter with Jesus and became one of the greatest apostles.
He said, “Let me quote the Bible for you. One day, Saul was persecuting Christians, the next day, he had an encounter with Christ, and the day after, he was being prosecuted because was one of the greatest preachers of the Christian faith.
“This man, Mbaka said look, ‘I supported the president’. He didn’t hide it. He said he supported the president. He said he brought doves and wanted them to fly, they refused to fly. He said he tried to cajole them to fly but they still refused until the Spirit told him to stop.
“The Holy Ghost told him to forget what he was trying to do. It was like a messenger that has now been sent to tell him that all the things he had been doing were wrong – this is no longer his time, my people are suffering, my people are dying. Whatever it was that opened his (Mbaka) eyes, God is using him to as an instrument. For a man to be ready to swallow his pride, having done something that you describe a month earlier – for him to have agreed to swallow his pride and come out the way he did, for a man to be ready to offend a president in office, whose wife he anointed a month before, takes the ultimate courage.
“All he said is that we all supported this man (president. He said he personally supported him up till one month ago. But he has now seen that this president’s six years in office has brought nothing but pain, blood, misfortune and disaster to this nation.
“The Spirit has told him that this cannot go on and that there is need for change. That is the genesis of the whole thing.”
The APC leader however rejected a prediction by the founder of the Evangelical Church of Yaweh, Theophilus Olabayo, that APC will lose Lagos in the next governorship elections.
“But how can we lose Lagos or even think of Rivers State. It is not even thinkable. If you ask me what I think I will tell you that we are going to win in Lagos, we are going to win in Rivers,” he said. “In the South-south, we are going to so totally blunt the PDP. We are not only going to win Lagos, we are going to win Akwa Ibom which is the next most populous state within the riverine area where people vote vote 99.9 percent. Edo State is already with us and even Delta may fall for us. There is no way we will not win the election, Olabayo or no Olabayo.”