The leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has dismissed the on-going controversy dogging its presidential candidate for the February 14 general election, General Muhammadu Buhari, describing it as “contentious of our military institution”.
Buhari had submitted affidavit documents instead of photocopies of his academic certificates, claiming that the originals are with the Army authorities.
A weekly newspaper (name withheld) yesterday published a story where the military authorities claimed ignorance of the location of the certificates in question.
But if what APC spokesman, Lai Mohammed, told LEADERSHIP Sunday last night is anything to go by, there is nothing to be worried about on the matter, since Buhari had been using court affidavit papers to contest previous presidential polls in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
The full text of his reaction reads as follows, “What precisely is the controversy all about? Is anyone insinuating that General Muhammadu Buhari has not the requisite academic qualifications to stand as the presidential candidate of the APC?” Mohammed said, adding that “the facts on the issue of General Buhari are as follows; that General Muhammadu Buhari was in detention for over three years; that while in detention, captors raided his residence and vandalised his property including certificates and diplomas; and that consequently, after his release, whenever the General asked about his academic qualifications, he would refer such bodies to the Military Command, who has his service records including his academic certificates.”
Continuing further, he said, “this was the case in 2003, 2007 and 2011, when General Buhari contested for President under the platform of the defunct ANPP and CPC and INEC was quite satisfied with the procedure.”
According to Lai Mohammed, “this year, General Buhari adopted the same approach by swearing to an affidavit that all his certificates had been lost while he was in detention and that the Army Command has his service records, including records of his academic qualifications”, and that “INEC to the best of our knowledge has not expressed dissatisfaction with the situation, as this was exactly the approach in years 2003, 2007 and 2011 when General Buhari contested for President.”
The APC spokesperson further queried, “Why is anyone trying to question General Buhari’s qualifications” saying it “is contentious of our military institution. Is the person saying a man who rose to become a General in the Nigerian Army does not have the equivalent of a secondary school?”
LEADERSHIP Sunday recalls that similar situation arose in 1979 when some presidential candidates could not present their three-year tax clearance certificates, but after the initial hues and cries, the then electoral commission, Federal Electoral Commission, gave them a waiver which doused the tension in the land.