The All Progressives Congress, APC, has defended the academic qualification of its presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, citing new legal details after the Nigerian Army denied it has copies of Mr. Buhari’s certificates as he earlier claimed.
The Constitution requires a minimum of secondary school certificate or its equivalent for election to the office of the president.
But amid intense debate over Mr. Buhari’s academic suitability, the APC said in any consideration, the former military leader remains very qualified for the election.
The party quoted part IV, Section 318 of the Constitution which interprets “School Certificate level or its equivalent” as follows:
(a) A Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent, 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 totalling 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;
The Army had earlier admitted having copies of Mr. Buhari’s certificates. But on Tuesday, the spokesperson for the Army, Olajide Laleye, reversed that position.
Mr. Laleye also said there were no records that the army in the 1960s verified Mr. Buhari’s claim to have attained a Senior Secondary Certificate.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, APC accused the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and President Goodluck Jonathan, of attempting to compromise the army, describing the move as “a dangerous game” that could destroy the military.
The party urged the military, as a symbol of national unity, to beware of those who may be seeking to use it to achieve selfish and divisive ends.
It said the statement credited to Mr. Laleye, a Brigadier General, that the army is not in possession of Mr. Buhari’s certificates, is in direct conflict with what he said on January 4 on the same issue.
”In an interview with the Punch on Jan. 4th 2015, Brig.-Gen. Olaleye said: ‘Every serving and retired Army officer has at least a copy of his certificates and credentials kept in the Nigerian Army while that same serving and retired officer has copies of those same certificates and credentials’.
”Is Brig.-Gen. Olaleye now saying that he did not make that statement? If he did, what has happened between then and now to make him to recant? It will be interesting to know what has transpired between then and now,” APC said.
But more worrisome, the party said, is the statement credited to Mr. Laleye that there was no evidence that the certificates of all those who joined the army in the early 1960s were verified by the selection board.
”Is he now saying that all those who were commissioned into the officer cadres in the 1960s did not have their certificates verified? Does this not confirm what we said that in trying to destroy Gen. Buhari, the PDP and the Jonathan Administration will end up destroying the army as an institution? Or is it only Gen. Buhari that was commissioned into the army in the 1960s,” it said.
The party also quoted Mr. Buhari as saying in an affidavit on 24/11/2014 that ”All my academic qualifications documents as filled in my presidential form, President APC/001/2015 are currently with the Secretary Military Board as at the time of this affidavit.”
”Those who are behind the latest controversy should now tell Nigerians what happened to Gen. Buhari’s certificates between the time of his affidavit and now,” it said.
The party said since Mr. Laleye has now confirmed that Mr. Buhari indeed applied to join the Army from form six, that the principal of the school he attended even attested to his suitability, and that the form he filled contained his Secondary School Certificate results, there is no scintilla of doubt about his qualification to run for president as stipulated by the Constitution.
”However, we know that the PDP and the Jonathan Administration have constituted themselves into a court of law and will like nothing more than the disqualification of our candidate so they will face no challenge in next month’s election. This is wishful thinking,” it said.
On the contradictions in the statements credited to the Army spokesman, the party said: ”It is true that our once globally-respected military has now been made comatose by the PDP-led Federal Government, but we believe things have not reached the level where the same military will be engaging in actions that amount to self-destruction, just to satisfy some political interests.
”We believe things have not reached a level where we, as a nation, will now be giving the impression that a man who rose to become a Major-General in the Nigerian Army does not have requisite qualifications?
”What really is happening in our country if some politicians have now decided to engage in an action that will amount to dragging the military into politics, dividing an institution that is a symbol of national unity, trivializing the service of those who fought to keep Nigeria one and ridiculing the same country it is supposed to be ruling?
”We have said it before and will like to repeat: Enough is enough about this distraction orchestrated by the PDP and the Jonathan Administration whose electioneering campaign for next month’s polls has suffered a train wreck,” the party said.