“We cannot trample upon the humanity of others without devaluing our own.The Igbo, always practical, put this concretely in their proverb, Onye ji onye n’ani ji onwe ya:He who will hold another down in the mud must stay in the mud to keep him down”
The name of General Muhammadu Buhari has always generated controversies from the day he became military head of state in 1983. The short period he was in charge of the nation was a period noted for drastic change in terms of national discipline, moral re- birth and draconian application of rules.
The National Party of Nigeria ( NPN) was a political party that was powerful and corrupt beyond redemption. At the time the Buhari /Idiagbon came to power, three of the then NPN members were alleged to have embezzled over six billion dollars.
Twenty three years later, the echoes of the Buhari era that cleared up the rubbish that the shameless politicians perpetrated in our land is sending fear into the spine of the “ jegudu-jera” (embezzlers). Buhari has contested presidential election about three times and failed. He even lamented that the 2011 election would be the last election he would be participating in. But the merger of some political parties to form All Progressives Congress (APC) made him to change his mind and gave him courage to give the race for the office of the President a last trial. The Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) has been enraged by the outcome of the APC presidential primary election that was open, transparent and free from acrimony. Their thought was that the APC’s primary election would mark the end of the party.
But now that they realised that Buhari’s massive followers from the North and the neglected South-West people under Jonathan will nail the political coffin of the PDP and its candidate, they resorted to shenanigans.
When Buhari became Head of state and government, nobody ever mentioned that a Nigerian Army General has no certificate. Not even the journalists! When he contested three times in diffferent political parties namely All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and Congress of Progressive Change (CPC), all these period, nobody raised any issue about Buhari’s certificate. But now that the ruling party realises that the Buhari is leading a formidable political party like that of the APC against it, it appears to be using blackmail.
Did Buhari have the INEC basic credential for the coming election? Buhari possesses the basic school certificate. In 1956, Buhari attended Katsina Provisional Secondary School (now Government College, Katsina). It was after this school that he joined the Nigerian Army and was trained in many military institutions within and in various military institutions across the globe. Some of the schools he attended include: Mons Officers Cadet School, Aldershot, in the United Kingdom before he was commissioned with the rank of Second Lieutenant. Buhari also attended Army Mechanical Transport Officer’s Course in Bordon, United Kingdom from May 1965 to June of the same year. He was sent to Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, India, in 1973 and Army War College, United States from 1979 to 1980. Can a general who had attended all these institutions be called an illitrate?
The minimum qualification required by the Electoral Act Section 106 (d) is school certificate or its equivalent. That is why wise Nigerians are asking politicians to discuss issues; issues that will move the nation forward, issues that will revive our economy, issues that will provide job for the jobless, issues that will give hope to the hopeless and cause Nigerians irrespective of social status, tribe and tongue to live in any part of Nigeria in harmony. Akin Osuntokun’s reference to the cancellation of Jakande’s transport project in Lagos by Buhari after the army took over power in 1984, is no longer relevant to the present challenge.
Raising such issue against Buhari shows how hypocritical politicians could be while trying to destroy political opponents. Osuntokun spent a large part of his life in Lagos and attended University of Lagos, yet he never advised Chief Olusegun Obasanjo against the withholding of Local government allocation for Lagos. In Osun, when Governor Rauf Aregbesola joyfully approached the president with the free offer of train coaches to the state from the Chinese government. The offer was given to the governor shorly after he came into office. Till date, the president failed to even acknowledge the application. Secondly, the Lagos state government under Raji Fashola was working on the revival of rail transport system.
The government of Lagos approached President Jonathan over the approval, the President bluntly refused to grant the necessary right-of-way approval to the Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) for the construction of its redline light rail project from Iddo to Ifo in Ogun State with a capacity to carry one million passengers per day. The investors were turned back by the refusal of the president, making Lagos and the nation to lose one billion dollars in the project
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s advice that the politicians should watch their utterances is mere lip service. The president spent hours in each time during his campaign to castigate Buhari, Obasanjo or any other political opponents. If he is not accusing Buhari of not buying a single gun while in office, he is busy calling Obasanjo a motor park tout and not qualified to be called a statesman. The allegation against Buhari has since been proved to be false. Evidence has been provided that guns, arms and military aircraft were purchased under Buhari’s administration.
The same PDP accused Buhari for being too old at 72 to rule Nigeria, but they have forgotten that in 1983, Chief Obafemi Awolowo contested at the age of 74 while Chief Nnamdi Azikwe contested in 1979 at the age of 75. The former American President Ronald Reagan became president at the age of 70 and served two terms. Here in Africa, Tunisian newly- elected President Beiji Caid Essebsi is 88 years. Our oldest African President in Zimbabwe is 93 before he handed over to his wife. It is not age that matters but wisdom and from human history old age is associated with wisdom.
If age and academic qualification is the magic for good governance, Nigeria would have been one of the best today. This is because for the first time in our history as a nation, we have a doctorate degree holder at the helm of affairs. But the big question is how far has it been of an advantage to the nation? Whatever it is, let’s discuss issues, and live personality out of the debate.