The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Saturday accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of colluding with the presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari, to subvert the Nigerian Constitution with regards to qualifications of candidates for election.
The ruling PDP, at a press conference held by President Goodluck Jonathan’s Campaign Director of Media and Publicity, Femi Fani-Kayode, on Saturday said INEC has consistently cleared Buhari to contest elections without the retired General submitting copies of his academic qualifications as required by law.
But, the APC Presidential Campaign team has fired back, urging the PDP to ask its candidate, Jonathan, to leave the certificate issue and address the nation on the massacre in Baga town, which the Amnesty International has described as the single most deadly incident since the unfortunate insurgency started in the country.
This is in reaction to Fani-Kayode’s claim that the PDP has obtained facts that Buhari has never submitted his academic qualifications to INEC and the electoral umpire has never disqualified him.
The same scenario, the PDP said, is playing out again as Buhari, according to the ruling party, has not submitted copies of his educational qualifications to the electoral umpire; yet, his name has been listed as a candidate for the election.
However, the PDP said, Buhari must this time around be stopped from participating in the April 14 presidential election.
Fani-Kayode said: “It has been brought to our attention that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), either by error of omission or commission, may be engaged in acts that do not, in every material particular, support the advancement of democracy, the rule of law and the strict adherence to the letters and the spirit of electoral laws in Nigeria.
“The inability of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, to present even the minimum requirement of just a leaving school certificate questions his moral and other credentials for pursuing the position of the president of Nigeria?
“The current shocking disclosures bring to the fore how and what qualifications were used to recruit him into the military, without a minimum school leaving certificate, where he rose to the rank of a General and even became the Head state through a military coup that truncated a democratically-elected government in 1983.
“Beyond the moral burden of human rights abuses and other sundry anti-democratic practices in his public records, we find that even in other spheres of democratic practices and, in particular, on the matter of due processes, his disdain for democratic conduct has not changed.
“Academic qualification is a threshold issue that cannot be waived for any citizen no matter how highly-placed and irrespective of whichever region such individual comes from except as provided by the constitution.
“Thus, the question must be asked: Is Buhari or any other citizen qualified to contest election into the office of the president without meeting the minimum constitutional requirement? he said.
Quoting conspicuously from the 1999 Constitution (as amended) Fani-Kayode said that the rule on qualification of candidates for election is very clear and that no one should be allowed to flout the rule.
He described Buhari in negatives, saying he is not a man of integrity as he claimed, because, according to Fani-Kayode, Buhari has consistently flouted the rule of the game.
“Nigerians that have perused the affidavit of nomination as submitted by General Buhari and as published in all INEC offices, as well as the copies of his similar INEC documentations for 2011 election, could see clearly that General Buhari who claims to be a man of integrity has not been true to Nigerians”, he added.
He insisted that Buhari does not qualify to contest the election and must be stopped at all cost.
But, a statement from the Directorate of Media and Publicity of the APC Presidential Campaign Team Garba Shehu on Saturday said that the PDP had dwelt so much on the issue of academic certificate of its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, while there are more pressing issues for the government controlled by the party to address.
The APC campaign team said the hullabaloo about Buhari’s academic qualifications was needless as the schools he attended in his schooling days were specified on his nomination form, and that anyone who wishes to confirm his academic qualifications can approach the schools to get the needed facts.
“This government should not go on being insensitive. They have to account to Nigerians. The issue of certificate of General Buhari is a non-issue as everyone knows that Buhari is a product of Daura Primary School, Katsina Provisional Secondary School (now Government College, Katsina) and the Nigerian Military Training College.
“This is in addition to several other courses he attended at home and abroad” the statement said.
The statement said further: “While the PDP government has failed in its duty and responsibilities to the citizens and the nation, they have intensified effort to pull wool over the eyes of Nigerians.
“A leading member of the party, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, a few days ago, informed Nigerians that in politics, you must tell lies. Nigerians should take their cue from there.
“Unfortunately, PDP has become a political party that is so fixated with keeping an incompetent government in power and is lustfully engaged in pursuing a non-issue about an individual’s academic qualifications,” the statement concluded.
However, Buhari himself has reacted to the attack on Baga by insurgents advising the government to be more proactive in dealing with the Boko Haram sect.
In a statement issued in Enugu on Saturday, the APC presidential candidate said that it was high time the Federal Government reviewed its counter-terrorism strategies.
He explained that he was embarrassed by the fact that Nigeria has now become sitting duck to terrorist attacks, which occur almost daily.
Buhari expressed his regrets that the poor victims of these frequent terrorist attacks have been abandoned to their fate.
Meanwhile, Nigerians are expressing worry over the emerging campaign style of both President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Muhammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Feelers from prominent citizens indicate that the utterances of both candidates may throw the nation into chaos before, during or after the elections as they are as vitriolic as they sound bitter and divisive,
One of those Nigerians, who spoke on the trend, is the Programmes Director, Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), Okechukwu Nwanguma, who stated that the two leading presidential candidates have disappointed Nigerians by engaging in campaigns of name calling instead of rolling out their programmes that would translate into the economic well being of the country.
“It is unfortunate that the two leading presidential candidates are only competing among themselves to know who will insult the other better,” he said.
Nwanguma further stated that instead of addressing the myriads of problems facing the country, the presidential candidates lack the needed knowledge and understanding on how to address the problems.
He said it is a great disappointment that after attracting a large gathering of party members and sympathisers, a presidential candidate will engage the crowds in storytelling and abuse of opponent.
Also, Chairman of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), Debo Adeniran, has lamented the lack of issue-based campaigns by Jonathan and Buhari, insisting that such portend grave danger for the polity.
Adeniran, who spoke in a telephone interview with Sunday Independent, said the development is a disturbing trend, which must be urgently addressed by the media and members of the civil society.
Also, frontline activist and former Deputy National Chairman of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Amitolu Shittu, chided Jonathan for failing to live up to Nigerians’ expectation as the father of the nation.
Shittu, who equally spoke via telephone interview with Sunday Independent, said he was seriously taken aback when he watched the President at the commencement of his campaign in Lagos without a concrete plan on how he (Jonathan) intends to fix the myriad of problems confronting the nation.