|attendees at press conference|
I welcome everyone to this press conference, and thank you for finding the time to be here despite your other engagements.
Nigeria is in the grip of election fever because of the imminent General Elections scheduled to commence February 14, 2015. There is a lot of tension in the air as the atmosphere has become charged with hot currents of partisan politics. It is the season of muck-raking, mud-slinging, name-calling, heated arguments, wild accusations and wilder counter-allegations as various interest groups jostle for power, either to claim it or to retain it in various political offices in the executive and legislative arms of government at the State and Federal levels. More unfortunately, pre-election violence has started to break out. There are reports of attacks on supporters of rival groups involving deaths, infliction of grievous bodily injuries, wanton destruction of properties, arson, etc.
This certainly is not the way to go. All leaders and controllers of political parties must do their utmost to curtail, even stop all these violent, uncivilized modes of electioneering. Questing for political office is not warfare among barbarians where annihilation of enemies at all cost is the prime objective. People who are genuinely interested in serving a community cannot be interested in dislocating, disrupting or even destroying that same community.
Our politicians must not turn and should not be allowed to turn our dear country into a war zone and a killing field. To this end, we call on all security agencies to eschew partisanship and embrace professionalism in the discharge of their duties. Violence is an ill wind that blows no one any good. Let all security heads and officials know that they are agencies set up for the protection of the STATE and not to serve the interests of any political party or any other group. Security agencies destroy themselves when they become puppets in the hands of selfish, unpatriotic political office holders using them to serve political interests.
BUHARI CERTIFICATE SAGA
There has been quite a stir and prolonged controversy over the issue of the Secondary School Certificate of General Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). According to the ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some other quarters, General Buhari should not be allowed to contest the elections, because he does not have the requisite educational status to qualify to run for the office of President.
The PDP claims specifically that the General does not have a School Leaving Certificate or that the one the General claims he has is a forged document. Only yesterday, a group of lawyers speaking in Abuja joined the fray on the side of the PDP and called for the arrest of General Buhari.
Incidentally, General Buhari has long been cleared by the organizers of the elections, the INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTION COMMISSION (INEC) to run as the presidential flag bearer of the All Progressives Congress.
In reaction to the allegations against him, the General has maintained that he graduated Secondary School in Katsina in 1961 and he has mentioned the names of some of his classmates including Justice Umar Abdulahi, former President of the Court of Appeal who has corroborated this claim. Another corroboration came from Generl Aliyu Gusau, National Security Adviser.
Our position on this matter is that the entire imbroglio is unnecessary, uninformed where not mischievous, mischievous, where not informed.
Section 318 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which governs the qualification to aspire to Nigeria’s presidency provides as follows:…
From the foregoing, one of the several important consequences stand out:
(1) The qualification space as regards education is very relaxed. The spirit of the law here is an emphasis on actual knowledge and competence above mere documentary or paper certification.
(2) To this extent, an extensive interpretation or definition of what constitutes School Leaving was given. Also, one could see that the constitutional prescription of educational status is on MINIMUM ENTRANCE. Evidence abounds that General Buhari in the least can speak and write in English. This is a notorious fact as we say in law that needs no proof before a court of law. And the constitution must have the capacity to use the English Language (the language of officialdom in Nigeria) to the satisfaction of INEC.
Of course, evidence also abounds that the General attended and graduated from various military institutions abroad before and after becoming a commissioned officer. And according to Professor Itsey Sagay SAN, a respected constitutional law expert, a diploma in the Military College is the equivalent of Masters Degree.
While we concede the right of having a contrary view on the Buhari Certificate issue, we assert that all those against General Buhari have not used the proper and lawful portal to ventilate their grievances. That portal is the Court of Law, not street marches, press conferences and soap boxes.
It appears to us that what the opponents of the General want now, in the face of the imminent defeat of the incumbent, is a Walk Over. They do not fancy contest again because of the real and apparent fears and dangers of defeat at the polls.
|after press conference|
There is now a call or clamour from certain quarters, particularly the PDP, for a shift in the date of the elections. The reason cited is that INEC is not ready for the elections as many people are yet to receive their PVC, the enablement to vote. INEC has however maintained that it will go on with the elections as scheduled, starting with the presidential elections. We support INEC. Instead of postponing the elections, INEC should redouble its efforts and meet their targets.