First let me express profound appreciation to the Press for raising issues that concern Nigeria in the open space of public discussion. After reading over 100 reactions to my initial position that what the Constitution requires in section 131(d) is the level of education which may be shown by a certificate or otherwise, I feel compelled to speak further on this issue so that we can be adequately educated at least constitutionally.
To begin with i noticed that some questioned my grammar without actually pointing out specific grammatical error in my writing. They appear indirectly to have confirmed the vision of the Constitution that the education or level of education should have precedent over certificate. Were we to focus solely on certificate, I have too many academic certificates to exclude me from questioning whether with regard to my thoughts or the way they are expressed.
The Nigerian Constitution in section 131(d) intelligently, in my view, set out a broad outline of educational qualification for the citizen who wants to be president. It focuses on a growing education process which having regard to the words of the Constitution mainly looks at knowledge......"he has been educated up to at least school certificate level or its equivalent." The Constitution did not even say that to qualify for election to the office of president you have to go to school. In my considered view and having regard to the unambiguous words of the Constitution a Nigerian citizen who is at least 40 years old and who belongs to a Nigerian political party and who is adjudged to have been educated up to at least School Certificate level will meet the education requirement set by the Constitution.
For the education of those who spent so much energy requesting for the high school or West African School Certificate(WASC) from Gen. Buhari the issue needs to be explained. Like i said previously, the Constitution spoke only of school certificate level which is left to be determined by objective assessment by minds that the society can at least be adjudged to be competent and capable. You can, for example have a WASC without being educated up to at least school certificate level or its equivalent. Like i said previously you could successfully purchase one at "Oluwole." In the same manner you may never have gone to a formal education institution yet be educated far beyond school certificate level.
A simple example will easily make the great logic and profound intelligence of the Constitution clear. Suppose Mr A was educated merely by interaction as it used to be in ancient times. He then decided that he wants his daughter to be a great Philosopher. He bought great philosophy books and employs home teachers for her, never sent her to school. Out of learning at home, his daughter Titun developed great interest in philosophy exceeding the expectation of her home tutors. Soon Titun wrote a great book in Philosophy which became a leading text-book in major world universities such as Oxford, Berkeley and Harvard. Now Titun, one of the world's leading scholars wants to run for the office of President of Nigeria. She has no certificate from any formal education institution. But we all know of her great philosophical works. I ask, could we say she is unqualified for election because she has not been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent since she has not formal school certificates?
Certificate as set out in section 131(d) is at best a rebut table proof of education not its definition. In the view of the Constitution, and this is very intelligent, it is knowledge which it recognizes as growing to a level..."he has been educated up to"....that must define the education qualification of the Nigerian citizen desirous of contesting for the office of President.
General Buhari is at liberty to present his certificates if he chooses to rely on them and prove through them that he has been educated to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent. But he could also leave it to the better judgment of the Screening Committee of his party, more or less like a board that sits to accept or reject a Ph.D dissertation. The essential point is that he needs not present any certificates. The judgment as to whether he meets the education qualification set by section 131(d) of the Constitution is not his at all, but that of the Screening Committee of APC. That Committee to which I was a member, in my considered view, has adjudged him to be educationally qualified to the satisfaction and hope of the Constitution. The insistence that he must produce his certificates is trivial and definitely constitutionally unwarranted.
The writer is Tunji Abayomi