Back in the days when the military was still in power, it was a common sight for a soldier in a commercial bus popularly referred to as ‘danfo’ whether in uniform or mufti, to reply a conductor’s request for bus fares with the word ‘staff’.

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Like magic, the conductor moves on to other passengers and lets the man be. It is one of the privileges of being a ‘staff’. Lagos being Lagos, a lot of non-military personnel tried to ‘staff’ their way out of paying bus fares but the consequences of getting caught were very dire. Fellow Nigerians, it is time we catch Buhari in this ‘staff’ game of his. He has taken us on this ride for too long. The army Buhari still claims has his credentials has long said they only have a letter of recommendation from his school principal.

Buhari has never attempted to disprove the army’s claims that his file only has a letter from his school principal, he has never demanded that his credentials be handed to him and he has never written WAEC to re-issue him a new one. INEC must start to comply strictly with the provision of Section 131(1)(d) of the constitution which stipulates a secondary school leaving certificate or its equivalent as a requirement for election into the office of President.

By allowing President Buhari run without proof of a certificate, it is not only promoting unconstitionality but criminality as well. The all too familiar video of the military debunking Buhari’s claim to being in possession of his credentials in 2015 has resurfaced online over the last few days and if Buhari has sworn to an affidavit still maintaining his credentials are still with the military then we may very well be watching the man commit perjury; lying under oath which is a criminal offence going by our laws. It is not INEC’s responsibility to write to WAEC or the Nigerian military, it is the President who has to prove to it that he has fulfilled that criteria.

If not in abidance with the law then at least in the interests of transparency and integrity. He may have successfully gotten away with it in the past but it doesn’t make it right. As things stand, President Buhari is not eligible to contest the 2019 Presidential election. Those claiming he is qualified by virtue of the wordings of Section 318 of the constitution which defines ‘secondary school leaving certificate or its equivalent’ need to look a bit more closely at the definition.

Sub-head(c) states that he must have a primary school leaving certificate in addition to serving in the public or private sector in any capacity acceptable to INEC for 10 years, attending courses in institutions acceptable to INEC and ability to read, write and communicate in English language to the satisfaction of INEC.

Does Buhari have proof of a primary school leaving certificate? The man has said his credentials are with the Secretary of the military board which the military has denied. So it is illogical for one to pick any of the accompanying criterias to the possession of a primary school leaving certificate and hinge his eligibility on that.

Buhari is not the first ex-military President we have had. As a matter of fact, President Olusegun Obasanjo got into the army before him and he didn’t tell Nigerians he left his credentials there. In law we have a saying-‘Nemo dat non quot habet’ (You cannot give what you don’t have).Nothing suggests President Buhari has a school leaving certificate to present and INEC must stop perpetuating illegality.

Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano



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