Having read the written addresses of both parties, there’s no need for INEC and APCs’ for obvious reasons, of all the issues raised, it appears the most fundamental issue is that of substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and the Constitution.
All the other issues relating to corrupt practices in the election, Buhari’s qualification and majority of lawful votes must establish or lead to one conclusion – whether or not there’s substantial compliance with the Electoral Act and the Constitution.
On the much talked about Buhari’s qualification and false declaration relating thereto, that will be the least difficult issue to decide. A former military general, former head of state and incumbent president will not be disqualified on the ground of educational qualification so cheaply. Rather, the most unfortunate issue is how the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 at the eve of the 21st century will make a primary school leaving certificate or a secondary education the minimum qualification for the highest office of the land! It is a national tragedy of the highest order.
For a country regarded as one of the most educated nationalities in more developed countries to only require the least and the lowest educational qualification for her political leader(s) is a national travesty. The major point for contention is not whether Buhari successfully passed through primary or middle school. He may not have passed through those educational stages before joining the army. Nonetheless, he joined the army and rose to the rank of Major General. His military career may be sufficient for INEC to be ‘satisfied’ that he is qualified to contest, which is the final test. The whole noise over falsification of certificate is at best of nuisance value or perhaps embarrassing to the person of the president who has once held the office of Head of State some 36 years ago. I will be surprised if Buhari is disqualified on this ground.
Let us face the more weightier issue of majority of lawful votes in the substantial compliance equation. That is where the battle really lies.
Frankly, I can only make a wild guess but it will be premature at this stage and also considering the long road that leads to the Supreme Court (SC). I will be more interested in the SC judgment. Actually, more in the reasoning than the decision itself. The public has been served with the best or should I say the worst of the SC in recent times in the unfortunate case of Adeleke v. Oyetola, which is a huge disappointment in sound judicial reasoning and electoral jurisprudence in this country.
This the main reason I look forward to how the SC will arrive at whatever decision it will make in this petition considering the weighty issues raised in the petition. I do sincerely hope the SC will prove its worth and refuse to be intimidated by the power of incumbency. At this time and at this level of adjudication, not every Judge or Justice will be courageous enough to answer to the call of conscience but there comes a time and this is it that a Judge of good conscience should only fear God, and not fear what man can do to him. Whether he perverts the course of justice or not, he will die. It will be better to do justice and die in glory than pervert justice and still die but live in a gale of haunted conscience and eternal damnation, not to talk of the public contempt his name will be for posterity both in life and in death.
I hope that when this matter appears before our little gods in the SC, each and all will not look at the Man in the Villa, they will look at the Man in the Mirror. We are merely looking at the stage being set for the grand finale. I look past this stages!
Prince Ayoade Adewopo writes from Ile-Ife, Osun State