Chairman of the presidential screening committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Ogbonnaya Onu yesterday offered an insight as to why the presidential candidate of the party, Maj -Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) was cleared to contest for the presidency in Febraury 14 next month.
Speaking to journalists on the certificate saga in Abuja, Onu said members of his panel have adhered strictly to the provision of the constitution to clear Buhari.
“Really that issue shouldn’t create the kind of problem that we are seeing today in the polity. When this matter came before us in the presidential screening committee, we had to rely on the constitution of our great country to qualify to be president of Nigeria, you have to be a Nigerian by birth, he has to be 40 years of age, , he has to be a member of a political party and that political party must be should sponsor you and finally should obtain education at least up to secondary school level or equivalent and our presidential candidate has attended military schools, in Nigeria, in India, in the United Kingdom (UK) and in the United states of America (USA) and in America, he attended the US army war college. So, there isn’t any reason whatsoever to create this type of problems that we now have in the polity.”
Asked if the committee actually demanded to see a copy of Buhari’s school certificate during the screening exercise, he said: “No, we demanded for that but there was an affidavit and you know once you swear to an affidavit, that definitely gives you whatever protection in any matter not just in this case. But the thing is that we were not doing this for the opposition – the PDP, we were doing it for Nigeria. This is a man who will be president of Nigeria and there is a supreme law, the constitution that guides us and the issue of qualifications is at least a school certificate.
“So if there is evidence that somebody has attended military schools that are tertiary institutions up to the war college of the USA, I mean why should you really go into school certificate and so on? But the Army has shown that he applied in form 6, many young people don’t know we used to have form 6, I attended form 6, I attended higher school that is what is called then that is form 6 and you spend 2 years at the lower and the upper. You can’t go to form 6 unless you completed your form 5 and he got all the credits in the relevant subjects. So all those are in his file.
“So I really don’t see why we should be thinking in this direction because the problems before the nation are enormous. We should be looking at how do we solve the problems of insecurity.
“A country that is the most populous black nation in the world, the largest economy in Africa and then you have unknown flags to the constitution flying in our territory is a very serious challenge for this nation. Then we have unemployment, we have an an economy that has not been managed properly because come to look at it, I am a chemical engineer and it pains me that for 16 years we abandoned our refineries and then we import petroleum products. We are sixth or seventh largest exporter of crude oil in the world and then we import refined fuel when we have four refineries and we can’t keep them working.”