Buhari Constitutionally Qualified For President Despite Failure To Present Academic Credentials By Chimezie

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The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) says presidential candidates are eligible for the position even without having to submit their academic credentials.

The question of educational qualification for the position has been in the public domain since 2014 when the public was flooded with claims that Muhammadu Buhari, then presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is not eligible for the position having failed to submit his educational credentials to the Independent Natioanl Electoral Commission, (INEC).

The former military ruler said at the time that his credentials were in the possession of the Nigerian Army. The military had at the time denied the claim.

Political analysts in the country had queried why the claim came out in 2014 given the fact that Mr Buhari has at three different times (aside the 2015 election) contested for the same position without much being heard of his educational background.

It was then seen as a ploy by the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to bully down the growing influence of the APC candidate at the time. Buhari contested in 2015, won the election and was sworn into office. Recently what is currently trending at the moment is the restatement by the president that his academic credentials are still with the military even when he is now the incumbent Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

Some Nigerians have now began to see their leader as been economical with the truth because they are now wondering why he cannot order the military to now produce his credentials he had claimed was with them.

Even though it is a requirement that presidential candidates should submit their acquired credentials, I do not think it should be a necessity since the constitution never stipulated it to be so.

Section 131 of the constitution listed required possessions a candidate for president must possess. It states that a person shall be qualified for election to the office of the President if –
(a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; (b) he has attained the age of forty years; (c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and (d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

In other words, upon a cursory reading of the provision of Section 131(d), it is easy to come off with the impression that unless a person possesses the Secondary School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent he or she is ordinarily not eligible to contest election to the office of the President of Nigeria.

Critics have often quoted that section to back up their claim and I put it to them that they need to do more research before they arrive at that claim.

The above provision must however be read along with Section 318 which is the interpretation Section of the constitution.

Section 318 defined the equivalent of School Certificate as: the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

It is on this note that I submit that since President Buhari can read, write, understand and communicate in English language there is no need for the recent cacophony about the paper credentials he failed to submit.

Stanley Chimezie
Political analyst and a freelance blogger.

Opinion(s) expressed are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of NGPOLITICS or its editors.

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