APC has wonderful chance to win this election, says Onu
Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, whose screening panel cleared Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd) to vie for the presidency, is upbeat on the chances of the party in February polls. He tells ADAMU ABUH and other reporters in Abuja that the hullabaloo over Buhari’s school leaving certificate was uncalled for.
On clearing of Buhari by the Presidential Screening Committee
REALLY, that issue should not create the type of problem we are seeing in the polity. This matter came before us in the Presidential Screening Committee and we had to rely on the Constitution of the country.
To qualify to be president of the country, you have to be a Nigerian by birth; you have to be 40 years of age; you have to be a member of a political party and that party should sponsor you; and finally, you should obtain education of at least secondary school certificate level or its equivalent.
We have a man who had attended military schools in Nigeria, the United Kingdom, India and in the United States of America.
He attended the United States Army War College; so, there isn’t any reason to create this type of problem we have in the polity.
On whether the screening committee demanded for a copy of Buhari’s certificate
As part of the screening, we demanded for a copy of the certificate, but there was an affidavit and once you swear to an affidavit, it gives you whatever protection you need on any matter and not just on this issue. We were not doing this for this opposition; we were doing it for Nigeria.
This is a man, who will be President of Nigeria and there is a supreme law, which is the Constitution that guides us.
The issue of qualification is at least a school certificate. So, if there is evidence that somebody has attended military schools that are tertiary institutions, including the War College of the United States of America, why should you be going into the issue of a school certificate and so on?
The Army has shown that he applied in Form Six. Many of you don’t know that we used to have Form Six. I attended higher schools. That is what it was called.
You spend two years and you can’t go to Form Six unless you have completed your Form Five and obtain the relevant credits in the relevant subjects.
All these are in his file, and so, I really don’t see why we should be thinking in this direction because the problems before the nation are enormous.
We should be looking at how do we solve the problem of insecurity in a country that is the largest and most populous black nation in the world, the largest economy in Africa and you have flags that are unknown to the Constitution flying in our territory.
There is an Islamic caliphate and that is a very serious challenge for the nation. We have unemployment; we have an economy that has not been managed properly.
I am a chemical engineer and it pained me that for 16 years, we abandoned our refineries and imported petroleum products. We are the sixth largest exporters of crude oil in the world. Then we import refined petroleum products.
You have all these chemical engineers and so, what else do you need? We have four refineries and we can’t even keep them running for 16 years. This is very disturbing.
On School Certificate suddenly becoming an issue
This has become an issue because the ruling party knows that a lot of Nigerians are yearning for change. This desire has been there for a very long time, but because there was no viable alternative, it could not be actualised. Now, there is a viable alternative.
The APC has shown that it is the viable alternative that Nigerians have been looking for. The APC has two of the most populous states in the country and we have shown that we have capacity.
Our manifesto is very rich. We are very original, very creative and Nigerians know that we are men and women of integrity with the capacity to change Nigeria for good. We can become that nation that God had destined us to be.
Actually, our concern was not on these points. We wanted to be sure that we respected the Constitution and that there was nowhere we were in breach of the Electoral Act.
As far as certificates are concerned, what’s the Constitution requires of anybody, who wants to be President, is that the person should have at least a secondary school certificate or its equivalent.
You see, people forget that operational word, which is “at least.” So, it did not say it must be a secondary school certificate. It says at least and I want people to go and read section 131 of the Constitution. You don’t have to be a lawyer to read it.
The operational word is “at least,” and we were satisfied that he had that educational qualification.
When you attend a military school, it is all education. It does not mean that it is only when you go to primary or secondary school; any military school can be the education you are acquiring.
Normally, after the secondary school level, we were satisfied that he met the requirement. However, don’t forget that anybody can misplace his original certificate or something can happen to it. But that is not the issue now.
On claims that President Goodluck Jonathan’s convoy was pelted while campaigning in Katsina
It is unfair to attribute that to the APC. Don’t forget that Katsina is a state governed by the PDP and there could be disgruntled persons and so, you should not attribute that the APC.
Moreover, we are not a violent party. The constitution of the APC is very clear that the party does not tolerate violence.
So, even without the pact that was signed, once you are a member of the party, you must subscribe to the constitution. And you cannot be violent because if you are violent, you will be disciplined.
On calls for postponement of the elections on the grounds that INEC is still distributing PVCs and the need to curtail Boko Haram insurgency
But that is not the solution. If you look at the issue of insurgency, you will discover that there are countries with serious war situations.
Bad as what we are experiencing in this country at the moment is, there are countries, such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria with worse situations and yet they held elections.
When it comes to INEC, the Chairman told us that they were ready. For the PVCs, they initially put end of the month for everybody to collect theirs. Now, they have extended it to give enough time for people to collect their PVCs.
I think that is a better approach, rather than say you will postpone it (elections). Even if you postpone, how are you sure that more people will go and collect the PVCs?
So, we can’t create constitutional crisis for the nation because of problems we should not have if we had managed ourselves well.
On the chances of the APC at the elections
We have very bright chances. The truth of the matter is that Nigerians are tired of broken promises.