Oshisada: Politics of Buhari’s certificate

OUR politicians are at it again. They are on the hustings, preparatory to the February elections. Common among them is the practice of running themselves down; that is, the game of discrediting their opponents in order to find favour or credibility among the electorate. In other words, this is the season of politicking. And, like in a court of law, where the prosecution tries its utmost to undermine the credibility of witnesses, every political party does its best to do the same with one another. This is where the PDP and the APC come to relevance. Usually, false propaganda is a weapon in the war chest of political parties.

    Recently, the Peoples Democratic Party was out to put a hex on the All Progressives Congress. What is the situation? The PDP’s presidential candidate, ruling President Goodluck Jonathan, appears to be smelling a rat; his chance of returning to Aso Rock is tenuous. This is most importantly because the APC has a formidable presidential hopeful in Muhammadu Buhari. Juxtapose the duo in the arena, the defender, Jonathan, pales into insignificance with the challenger, Buhari, in terms of popularity among the voters. What makes nebulous the incumbent’s chance of victory is the poor performance of Jonathan in power. He has disappointed many of those who supported him in 2011. Some pundits raise the factor of incumbency, which, in my opinion is hollow in the 21st century. Students of English political history can bear me out. In Britain, for decades, the Conservatives and the Labour alternate. In 19th century Britain, the Conservatives and the Liberals were alternating. Remember Prime Ministers Benjamin Disraeli and William E. Gladstone. Why not raise the factor of incumbency to enable one party remain in power perpetually? In the United States of America (USA), the Republicans and the Democrats, like a clock’s pendulum swings at elections. Why the alternation at the behest of the electorate? In my opinion, the argument that a ruling or governing party has power of incumbency borders on the verge of rigging and other electoral malpractices, including the intimidation of voters. Otherwise, there is no reason why a governing party like the PDP or the APC cannot be defeated at elections. The constant allusion to the power of incumbency smacks of crudity and corruption, making the playing ground to be uneven. It is irrational argument, that is.

   Seasoned analysts must refuse to uphold the concept of incumbency. What brings about the idea of incumbency? Simply put, it is the hollow ring in party politics. A ruling party like the PDP that cannot deliver the dividends of democracy has the tendency of resorting to the heterodoxy of incumbency to dislodge its opponents. The language, which the electorate understands is quality performance in government. Not only the provisions of structural developments, but also sound economic policies for the people. With these in places, the PDP’s federal government of President Goodluck Jonathan should not have recourse to Buhari’s dislodgement willy-nilly from power-base. PDP’s approach is subterfuge. And it must be condemned.

  We were three in a school-library when the issue of Buhari’s certificate was raised. Two of us said the qualification required was university degree, but I countered them that it was School Certificate. As it is not in my character to dwell on an issue in which I am not sure, I kept my mute, until I arrived back home when I quickly reached for the copy of Nigerian Constitution to check up. Whatever political problem that arises, it is the Constitution that is consulted, because of its supremacy. And what does the document say about the qualification for election to the office of a President?

   According to Chapter VI, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution (2011 Amendments), Section 131 says: “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of 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; (d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent. I commend those who insert this minimum provision, because the “hood does not make the monk. Higher academic qualification does not necessarily indicate quality delivery or performance. If it does, an action governor like Alhaji Lateef ’Kayode Jakande would not have stood in Lagos as a Governor; performance is inherently inborn, but not through academic attainment from a university, which may be an advantage.

   In this regard, is Muhammadu Buhari qualified to contest? The Guardian, December 21, 2014, is my authority in answering this question. In it, is a small filler, titled: “Buhari at a glance”, encapsulating a biodata on Buhari. He was born on December 17, 1942, attended Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Government College, Katsina) from 1956 to 1961. On graduation from secondary school in 1961, the young Buhari went to the Nigerian Military Training School, Kaduna in 1963. Has he not satisfied Section 131, subsection (d) of the constitution? If he did not possess the certificate would he be admitted?

  Nigeria became politically independent on October 1, 1960. Therefore, to be more objective and analytical, a secondary school graduate of 1961, can be described as a colonial Nigerian graduate-that was a year after Independence, indicating that the standards of education and discipline were at their best or height in 1961, when Buhari left secondary school. So, there can be no doubt of possessing secondary school certificate, which is the least required as the qualification for the presidency. Besides, Buhari attended local and international military courses after his secondary school education, a fortiori, if he did not possess school certificate, he would not qualify for various subsequent courses here and abroad.  I believe that the APC presidential candidate is hugely qualified; the PDP is merely in trepidation of his positive chances of victory at the polls. In a healthy democracy, Goodluck Jonathan should have long thrown in the towel, having failed to zero in on the essentials-security, industries for employment and corruption. Instead of doing so, the PDP and its courtiers are revelling on Buhari’s certificate. In the words of the APC presidential hopeful himself, Muhammadu Buhari: “If Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”.

   If this is not so, how far has Jonathan gone on the seven-point programmes bequeathed to him by his late boss, Yar’Adua? The Chibok girls are nowhere to be found; the imbroglio of power supply remains insoluble, yet Jonathan is seeking for extra term to further impoverish Nigeria and Nigerians.

• Oshisada, a veteran journalist, lives at Ikorodu, Lagos.

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