Instead of the unending focus on Buhari’s certificate one would have thought that Nigerians would be demanding changes to the constitutional requirements
Of all the many serious issues for which the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its sympathisers should be tackling the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), it is surprising that the old, over-flogged and unfruitful issue of President Muhammadu Buhari’s West African School Certificate is the one they have chosen to latch onto. The Buhari certificate brouhaha was one of the key issues stoutly propped up as a reason to disqualify and vote against Buhari in the run up to the 2015 presidential election, but that effort fell flat on its face like a pack of cards.
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The collapse of that campaign was not so much because Buhari then had, or did not have, a WAEC certificate. It was simply because many Nigerians did not consider the idea of trying to make a mountain out of the issue a reasonable one. This is more so as the qualifications and guidelines for contesting for the office of President both in the Electoral Act and the Nigerian Constitution do not include the presentation of a WAEC Certificate, whether the candidate passed or failed.
Instead of the unending focus on Buhari’s certificate, therefore, one would have thought that Nigerians would be demanding changes to the constitutional requirements, to ensure that at least, only persons who can present certificates obtained from higher institutions are able to contest for the very important office. It is unfortunate that the framers of our constitution, probably for certain personal interests, chose to set such a low bar for candidates who want to vie for the office of President. That bar is no longer realistic and expedient in today’s knowledge-driven world, and should be raised. Non-possession of the WASC should, however, not be a reason to hound or debar anyone from seeking the office of president, as our extant constitutional provisions do not demand such.
Therefore, the ongoing effort to make an issue of this matter only paints its champions as absolutely lacking in ideas and originality, because many Nigerians are simply not interested in that argument. There was no headway made with the issue in 2015, and none will be made with it in 2019. It, indeed, smacks of idleness and poverty of ideas for anyone to dig up this failed affair and attempt to repackage it to distract the people as we interrogate the important issues in the 2019 presidential contest.
It is a waste of valuable time, and a taking of politicking too far, investigating the O’ Level qualifications of someone who has been trained by the military and rose to the position of a Major-General; someone who has served as a head of state and commander-in-chief of the nation’s Armed Forces, and as a President for three and a half years, for the purpose of stopping him from seeking a second term in office. This is nothing but a desperate clutching at straws, and one would have thought that there are many other reasons to carpet Buhari other than this lame one.
Demeaning the military qualifications, training and experience garnered by Buhari and other senior military officers as not an equivalent to a WAEC certificate is an insult to the military in Nigeria. It is only reasonable to expect that all the long qualifications our top soldiers append to their names should be higher than the WAEC Certificate, or they should be yanked off after their names immediately. Moreover, since Section 131 (d) of the 1999 Constitution says our aspiring Presidents should be educated up to school certificate level or its equivalent, it means the WASC certificate is not an absolute requirement, but a minimum, which holders of higher qualifications such as degrees, diplomas and military qualifications may not be required to present.
It was therefore unnecessary, and a mark of political naivety, for the President’s camp to avail the polity with the WAEC certificate presentation drama staged recently in Abuja. The Presidency would have been better off ignoring the clamour for the certificate. The period that Buhari has spent in office is sufficient for the people to review his performance and determine the desirability of his continued stay in office, post 2019. The campaigns for the 2019 Presidential contest should, therefore, revolve around issues that are of great importance to Nigerians. Among these are issues relating to education, health, job creation, security, the economy and the like. These are issues that have bearing on the lives of all Nigerians and they should not be made light of over these frivolities on a WAEC certificate which could not stop Buhari’s participation and victory in the 2015 poll, and will likely also not stop him from contesting next year.
If Buhari, as an embattled presidential candidate of the APC in 2015 could weather the certificate saga and get elected, will it not be a waste of energy and resources attempting to take him on, on that same issue now that he enjoys the power of incumbency? Let the opposition camp not be seen by Nigerians as comprising indolent persons who lack the intellectual sagacity to deal with facts and eschew unhelpful bickering over non-issues. It should rather take Buhari up on his actions and inactions in office, and their impact on ordinary Nigerians.
The critical question Buhari’s opponents in the coming race should be asking is whether he has been able to improve the quality of life of Nigerians and how they intend to do this if they are voted into office next year. Anything, other than this, is mere politicking. Nigerians will be better off if they interrogate the real issues and proffer solutions to identified problems. The leading opposition party should also be quick to say how it plans to break away from its “money-sharing” proclivities of the past, and work much harder to improve the lives of the people.
The APC, too, should be telling the nation how it intends to speed up the delivery of its change agenda to have a positive impact on the people. Nigerians should, at this time, avoid a misplacement of priorities on the coming election. We should not allow politicians to distract us with their unhelpful politicking. What we need is a hard-nosed appraisal of the Nigerian situation and a review of the modus operandi of both the PDP and APC over the years, since we are now stuck with them. This is the time to set aside propaganda and unhelpful shadow-chasing.
Ultimately, it is the Nigerian people who matter, not the politicians and their selfish interests. The ultimate question for the masses should be: what is in it for us in the long term? If this question is asked and properly answered, even the vote buying saga that is taking over our elections will become a thing of the past.
The account of Khashoggi’s murder raises goose pimples. The fear that justice and fair trial may not be reached in Saudi Arabia is true.
The fact, though, is that in diplomatic relations, the Saudi Embassy in Turkey is Saudi territory and the crime is assumed to have taken place in Saudi Arabia. So, the trial may well hold there. Turkey may send observers/attorneys to take part in the trial.