The Screening, Education and Certified Learnings of Muhammadu Buhari, and Their Constitutional Logicality – by Tunji Abayomi

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The Education and Learnings of Muhammadu Buhari

By Tunji Abayomi

January 10, 2015

There appears to be a great anxiety by some to assert and spread wrong conclusions arising from my two previous notes on the education of General Buhari. I have not said General Buhari did not attend Primary or Secondary Schools. He did. What I said and stand on, is that section 131(d) of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution focuses not on certificates but on education. I repeat, for the avoidance of doubt, a certificate where available may well prove the education level of the citizen desirous of becoming President, but without it, he can still meet the education qualification by other modes of proof.

General Buhari met that proof before the eminent men and woman of the APC Screening Committee (A.S.C) He did that by affidavit evidence under oath and by interaction and reaction. The Screening Committee justly and rightly concluded that “he has been educated up to at least school certificate level or equivalent.

Those who refer to the disqualifying provisions of section 137(i) (j) … “he has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission “ to affirm that the Constitution requires a certificate are plainly wrong. In section 137 (1) (j) a citizen contestant who makes a false representation (“forged certificate”) to INEC stands disqualified. A citizen who presents no certificate cannot be disqualified by a “forged certificate”. The interest of section 137(1) (j) is in truth or falsehood not certificate.

Now my argument is not that General Buhari was or was not educated. It is that with all the certificates of any contestant, all that the constitution plainly requires in section 131(d) is a show that he has been educated up to the school certificate level or its equivalent not any particular certificate.

General Buhari is well educated. This is why he thinks well, speaks well, reads wells and interacts well on National issues. All you need do is listen to him in live interviews or conversation. Only yesterday I listened to the inspiring interview he gave when Nigeria turned 50.

General Buhari attended Primary School in Daura/Maiaduwa (1948 – 1952), Middle school, Katsina (1953 – 1956), Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Government College), Katsina (1956 -1961) Nigerian Military Training School, Kaduna and Cadet Officer Course Aldershot UK (1963) Platoon Commander Course, Military College Kaduna (1964), Army Transport School, Bordan, UK (1965), Defence Service Staff College, Wellington, India (1973-1974), U.S Army War College (1979 -1980).

General Buhari also displays an impressive Professional carrier. He was  Platoon Commander (1964), Battalion Adjutant / Commander (1967) Brigade Major (1970), Commander, 31st infantry Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (1972), Colonel, General Staff, 3rd Infantry Division Headquarters (1974) Military Governor, North East State (1976) Commissioner for Petroleum and Energy Resources (1976), Chairman, NNPC (1978), Military Secretary, Army Headquarters (1979), Member, Supreme Council (1979), GOC, 4th Infantry, 2nd Mech. Infantry, 3rd Armoured Division (1981-1983), Head of State and C-O-C (1983-1985), Chair PTF (1994-1999).  I have only mentioned a few.

In addition to the above learnings, he has received impressive honors among which are, to mention a few, GCFR, CFR, Defence Service Medal, Congo Medal as well as D.Sc/LL.D (honoris causa) of the Univ. of Bauchi, Ilorin, Enugu State, Calabar, and Benue State.

The APC Screening Committee is expected to make intelligent decision within the context of the qualification requirement set out in section 131(d), that is, to decide whether General Muhammadu Buhari “has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

The APC Screening Committee rightly and intelligently decided that with or without the presentation of any certificates, his written profile, supported by his deposition put it beyond doubt that he has been educated beyond School Certificate Level or its equivalent.

Tunji Abayomi


Buhari Certificate Controversy: The Logic Of The Constitution

First let me express profound appreciation to the Press for raising issues that concern Nigeria in the open space of public discussion. After reading over 100 reactions to my initial position that what the Constitution requires in section 131(d) is the level of education which may be shown by a certificate or otherwise, I feel compelled to speak further on this issue so that we can be adequately educated at least constitutionally.To begin with i noticed that some questioned my grammar without actually pointing out specific grammatical error in my writing. They appear indirectly to have confirmed the vision of the Constitution that the education or level of education should have precedent over certificate. Were we to focus solely on certificate, I have too many academic certificates to exclude me from questioning whether with regard to my thoughts or the way they are expressed.

The Nigerian Constitution in section 131(d) intelligently, in my view, set out a broad outline of educational qualification for the citizen who wants to be president. It focuses on a growing education process which having regard to the words of the Constitution mainly looks at knowledge……”he has been educated up to at least school certificate level or its equivalent.” The Constitution did not even say that to qualify for election to the office of president you have to go to school. In my considered view and having regard to the unambiguous words of the Constitution a Nigerian citizen who is at least 40 years old and who belongs to a Nigerian political party and who is adjudged to have been educated up to at least School Certificate level will meet the education requirement set by the Constitution.

For the education of those who spent so much energy requesting for the high school or West African School Certificate(WASC) from Gen. Buhari the issue needs to be explained. Like i said previously, the Constitution spoke only of school certificate level which is left to be determined by objective assessment by minds that the society can at least be adjudged to be competent and capable. You can, for example have a WASC  without being educated up to at least school certificate level or its equivalent. Like i said previously you could successfully purchase one at “Oluwole.” In the same manner you may never have gone to a formal education institution yet be educated far beyond school certificate level.

A simple example will easily make the great logic and profound intelligence of the Constitution clear. Suppose Mr A was educated merely by interaction as it used to be in ancient times. He then decided that he wants his daughter to be a great Philosopher. He bought great philosophy books and employs home teachers for her, never sent her to school. Out of learning at home, his daughter Titun developed great interest in philosophy exceeding the expectation of her home tutors. Soon Titun wrote a great book in Philosophy which became a leading text-book in major world universities such as Oxford, Berkeley and Harvard. Now Titun, one of the world’s leading scholars wants to run for the office of President of Nigeria. She has no certificate from any formal education institution. But we all know of her great philosophical works. I ask, could we say she is unqualified for election because she has not been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent since she has not formal school certificates?

Certificate as set out in section 131(d) is at best a rebut table proof of education not its definition. In the view of the Constitution, and this is very intelligent, it is knowledge which it recognizes as growing to a level…”he has been educated up to”….that must define the education qualification of the Nigerian citizen desirous of contesting for the office of President.

General Buhari is at liberty to present his certificates if he chooses to rely on them and prove through them that he has been educated to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent. But he could also leave it to the better judgment of the Screening Committee of his party, more or less like a board that sits to accept or reject a Ph.D dissertation. The essential point is that he needs not present any certificates. The judgment as to whether he meets the education qualification set by section 131(d) of the Constitution is not his at all, but that of the Screening Committee of APC. That Committee to which I was a member, in my considered view, has adjudged him to be educationally qualified to the satisfaction and hope of  the Constitution. The insistence that he must produce his certificates is trivial and definitely constitutionally unwarranted.


How APC Screened Buhari And Educational Qualification For Presidential Contest

by Tunji Abayomi

Jan 03, 2015

In view of so much interest shown in the non-presentation of the Certificates of  Buhari, APC Presidential candidate to INEC, much interest has been shown in determining whether he has met the Constitution’s education qualification. As a member of the APC screening Committee, I can affirm unequivocally that Gen. Buhari met the education qualification prescribed by the Constitution.
General M. Buhari joined the Nigerian Army in 1962, attended military training before proceeding to Officers Cadets Training at Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, UK. In 1963 he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant and appointed Platoon Commander 2nd Infantry Battalion, Abeokuta. During this same period he attended the Platoon Commander’s Course at the Nigerian Military College, Kaduna.He later also attended Mechanical Transport Officers Course at the Army Mechanical Transport School,Borden, UK. General Buhari attended the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, India in 1973 and from 1979 to 1980 as a Colonel, he attended the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Still the question remains, has General Buhari without presenting especially his school certificate or its equivalent met the education precondition set for Presidential Candidates in the Constitution?
To begin with, the Constitution does not prescribe the presentation or show of any Certificate to qualify for election to the office of President. Under section 131(d) of our Military Constitution, a person shall be qualified for election to the office of President if “he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.” While a Certificate may unequivocably show that a contestant has been educated up to at least School Certificate level, his education without a Certificate may show, again unequivocably that he has been educated up to the equivalent of School Certificate level. For example, assuming A is the best all A student in Ajuwa Grammar School, Okeagbe, Akoko. Now on the very day before the commencement of the West African School Certificate, he sexually harrassed the daughter of the English teacher as a result of which he was dismissed, will A be said not to have met the education qualification of section 131(d) of the Constitution?
In my view A has not only been educated up to at least School Certificate level he would also be deemed to have been educated to its equivalent.  This position finds support in section 131(d) which neither prescribed a pass which is required for certification nor a fail which denies it. The interest of the Constitution is with the level of the education of the candidate howsoever acquired, not the certificate he aquires ipso facto.

The APC screening Committee was made up of several eminent highly educated and enlightened men and one Woman.They came to the conclusion after putting APC presidential aspirants through a most rigorous test that all the APC aspirants met the constitutional qualifications including education qualification to contest for election to the office of President. They confirm this by awarding them a certificate. The    qualification set by the Constitution for contest is the level of education not its certificate. While a certificate may irrevocably prove that the education qualification has been met, it could in the same manner prove rebut ably only that it has been met. Where for example a Certificate has been purchased for example in “oluwole” as it has  happened in several instances, a candidate though in possession of a certificate cannot be said to have met the education qualification of the Constitution because he has not been educated not to talk of up to school certificate level.

With reference to General Buhari having regard to his unimpeachable military training, an irrefutable presumption was properly made by the APC screening Committee that he met the education qualification set by the Constitution. Those who contest this or who intend to contest that he met the education qualification of section 131(d) have the burden to disprove the irrefutable presumption not General Buhari.

 

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