I won’t fail Nigerians, says Jonathan
• Army clears air on Buhari’s certificate
• APC cautions against dragging military into politics
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday assured that his administration would vigorously implement policies, programmes and projects that would ensure the rapid development of the country’s solid minerals and agricultural sectors if re-elected into office. .
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army yesterday cleared the air over the raging controversy on the eligibility of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to contest the forthcoming election, saying records showed that he had the qualification to be commissioned as an officer but that the documents were not in the file. .
On its part, APC warned that those who were bent on destroying Buhari on the basis of his certificates might end up destroying the country’s military.
Jonathan made the claim during a courtesy call on the Emir of Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, Alhaji Muhammad Kabiru Danbaba as part of his campaign tour to the state.
He added that the Federal Government had concluded plans to collaborate with states that were blessed with mineral resources in commercial quantities, with a view to ensuring full development of the sector.
Jonathan assured Nigerians that if re-elected, he would not fail Nigerians just as he pledged better security, economy and job opportunities for the betterment of citizens irrespective of the political linings.
He said: “Your royal highness, I want to thank you for the honour and warm reception given to my campaign entourage in your palace. It is part of our plan if we are re-elected to support the state in developing mineral resources that are in abundance in the state. I also want to assure you and Nigerians at large that we will not fail this state and Nigerians.”
He further stressed that he was passionately committed to the full development of Nigeria’s solid minerals sector because of its huge potential for boosting the nation’s economy.
He said that the present government had done a lot under its agricultural transformation agenda through the provision of free tractor services to farmers in the country, in addition to the provision of fertiliser across the country. .
Responding, Danbaba thanked the President for the visit and wished him peaceful and successful campaign in the state.
He added that Zamfara State being a farming area was proud of the president’s support for the agricultural sector and the SURE-P programme, which had impacted positively on the citizens.
At a news briefing yesterday in Abuja, the Army’s spokesman, Brig. Gen. Olajide Laleye said that Buhari’s service record file did not contain “the original certificates nor the certified true copies of his educational qualifications.”
Explaining, Laleye said: “Records available indicate that Maj. Gen. M. Buhari applied to join the military as a form six student of the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina on October 18, 1961. His application was duly endorsed by the principal of the school, who also wrote a report on him and recommended him to be suitable for military commission.
“It is a practice in the Nigerian Army that before candidates are shortlisted for commissioning into the officers’ cadre of the service, the selection board verifies the original copies of credentials that are presented. However, there is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s.
“Nevertheless, the entry made on the Nigerian Army Form 199A at the point of documentation after commission as an officer indicated that the former Head of State obtained the West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1961 with credits in relevant subjects: English Language, Geography, History, Health Science, Hausa and a pass in English Literature. Neither the original copy, Certified True Copy (CTC) nor statement of result of Maj. Gen. M. Buhari’s WASC result is in his personal file.”
Recall that when the question of Buhari’s eligibility to contest in line with Section 131(d) of the Nigerian constitution, which states, “A candidate must have been educated up to at least school certificate level or its equivalent”, was raised, he was said to have in an affidavit which he deposed to at a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, explained that all his academic credentials were with the Secretary, Military Board.
The affidavit deposed to at the FCT High Court and dated November 24, 2014, was stamped and received by INEC on December 18, 2014.
“All my academic qualifications documents as filled in my presidential form, President APC/001/2015 are currently with the Secretary, Military Board as of the time of this affidavit. The affidavit is made in good faith and for record purpose.”
Following this, Layele was reported to have said: “Every serving and retired Army officer has, at least, a copy of his certificates and credentials kept with the Nigerian Army while that same serving and retired officer has copies of those same certificates and credentials.”
This gave rise to the public clamour that the authorities of the Nigerian Army should provide the copies of the certificates from their files. Hence the explanation by the Army spokesperson to the effect.
He said that the clarification had become imperative so as to put to rest the numerous inquiries from individuals, corporate bodies and the “media hype” that had snowballed into a fixated controversy, bordering on the Secondary School Certificate of the retired General, whom he said, “the Nigerian Army holds in very high esteem and respect and would not be a party to any controversy surrounding his eligibility for any political office. Who rose steadily to the enviable rank of Major General before becoming the Head of State of the country in December 1983.”
Layele also stated that recent reports by the Cable News Network (CNN) concerning kitting, equipment, medical treatment and corruption in the Nigerian Army as the take on the insurgency was a perfect example of poor journalism, as it showed, “bias, ignorance, poor journalism, unprofessionalism and handiwork of a sponsored documentary.”
He justified this by insisting that the Nigerian Army had established ordinance shops in all their formations where kits and uniforms were sold at subsidised rates, that was besides the functional health delivery system, where in every cantonment or barrack, there were Medical Inspection Room, Medical Reception Station or medical Hospital and “personnel in the Northeast have the best medical treatment” as all the medical facilities there were well equipped.
Laleye rather called on the international new channel to “beam its searchlight on the atrocities of Boko Haram terrorists against innocent and defenceless Nigerians rather than the army,” while also denying reports of corruption in the army and challenging anyone with evidence of such acts to produce it.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the APC warned that the PDP and the Jonathan Administration were playing a dangerous game by trying to compromise the military in order to satisfy selfish political objectives.
It, therefore, urged the military, as a symbol of national unity, to beware of those who might be seeking to use it to achieve selfish and divisive ends.
It said that the statement credited to Laleye, at a news conference in Abuja, that the Army was not in possession of Buhari’s certificates, was in direct conflict with what he said on January 4, 2015 on the same issue.
‘’In an interview with the Punch on January 4, 2015, Laleye 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 Laleye 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 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 Buhari, the PDP and the Jonathan Administration will end up destroying the army as an institution? Or is it only Buhari that was commissioned into the army in the 1960s?” It said.
The party also quoted Buhari as saying in an affidavit on 24/11/2014, “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 Buhari’s certificates between the time of his affidavit and now,” it said.
APC said that in any case, even if the Army said it did not have the certificates of Buhari, he was still very qualified to run for the country’s highest office, as stipulated by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The party quoted Section 131 (d) of the 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.’’
APC said that the meaning and interpretation of ‘’School Certificate level or its equivalent can be found in the Constitution under part IV, Section 318. In that Section, a ‘’School Certificate or its equivalent’’ is defined quite succinctly thus:
• A Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent, Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate; or
• Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level; or
•Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent.
The party said that since Laleye had now confirmed that 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 was 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.
APC said that the PDP and the Jonathan Administration should expend their energy on how to revive their floundering campaign instead of seeking the disqualification of its (APC) candidate.
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, trivialising the service of those who fought to keep Nigeria one and ridiculing the same country it is supposed to be ruling?” It further queried.