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Buhari and the qualification question

By Josef Omorotionmwan

SOMEBODY should call the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to order for failing to ask Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari to take a bow at the recent screening of candidates for the 2015 presidential election.

We have many solid reasons why Buhari should have taken a bow: Between December 1983 and August 1985, he headed the Government of this country. The Buhari administration came at a time when Nigeria was virtually at the edge of total collapse. He justified the military intervention by pointing out to the entire world that the civilian government at the time was hopelessly corrupt.

His administration promptly initiated the War Against Indiscipline, WAI, which succeeded in whipping everybody on line. The policy won him national and international admiration because of its effectiveness.

He embarked on the rebuilding of the nation’s socio-political and economic systems along the realities of Nigeria’s austere economic conditions, including cutting down on the over-bloated national budget; obliterating or removing completely, corruption from the nation’s social ethics; shifting from the mainly public sector employment to self-reliance; and encouraging import substitution industrialization based principally on the use of local materials.

Evidently, good things don’t last. Buhari’s administration was overthrown by corrupt elements in the same administration who feared that from the way he was going, the dangling axe might soon fall on them and they would be brought to justice. Nigeria was put on a steady path to recovery in terms of public discipline, curbing corruption, lowering inflation, drastically reducing the cost of governance, enhancing the workforce and improving productivity.

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The PDP and its agents are already jittery and in the process, they are prone to lots of mistakes. They have forgotten that in 2003, Buhari contested this same position with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; in 2007, he contested against the late Musa Yar’ Adua; and in 2011, he contested against President Goodluck Jonathan.

In each case, he was cleared, not by a foreign INEC but by this same Nigerian INEC! And now that he poses a serious challenge to the “big boss”, all impediments must be placed on his way.

Are these blokes no longer capable of doing quick background check on their subject? Space will permit us to remind them of just a few of the highly revered awards standing to Buhari’s credit: Congo Medal (CM); Defence Service Medial (DSM); Forces Service Star (FSS); General Service Medal (GSM); Grand Commander of Federal Republic (GCFR); Loyal Service and Good Conduct Medal (LSGCM); National Service Medal (NSM); and many more.

In terms of functionality, Buhari stands out as one of the most educated Nigerians. Anti-Buhari crusaders like Prof. Wale Oladipo, who developed the “PhD versus the illiterate hypothesis”, should have known that when education really mattered, those rigorous military trainings, cognate to the administration of men and materials, could not be compared in any way to the “process of blocking-through” obtainable in some of those glorified commercial schools called universities in Nigeria.

Buhari joined the Army in 1962 when he attended the then Nigeria Military Training College, which was later renamed the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, Kaduna. Buhari soon proceeded to the Officer Cadets training at Mons Officer Cadet School in Aldershot, England.

More importantly, from 1979-80, Col. Buhari, as he then was, attended the US Army War College (established in 1901), in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies. Which University can be more than that? Yet, this is Prof. Oladipo’s illiterate.
All the same, this President-in-waiting will not be a lone ranger. Neither does he intend to run Nigeria as a sole administrator. He has promised to engage the best brains around. This is where zoologists and other animal scientists may, understandably, not come into serious reckoning. For Buhari, governance is a serious business. A man with a good degree in zoology should be in the zoo, feeding animals instead of running around in government, messing up the administration of humans. Is anyone still in doubt as to how we got to the sorry state in which we find ourselves today?

Much as we believe that a good education might make a good person better, it is also true that great accomplishments are not a function of a chain of degrees. And our preference for those “cardboards” may be the very albatross of this nation.

Some of the world’s greatest achievers are men who never saw the four walls of a university or outright school drop-outs. We remember Britain’s war time Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who had a very poor academic record. He struggled through three independent schools before ending up at the Famous Harrow School.

He later applied for admission into the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where he made three attempts before passing the entrance examination. Today, Churchill stands out clearly as the greatest wartime leader that ever lived and the only British Prime Minister that has ever won the Nobel Prize for literature.

Edwin Land, founder of the Polaroid Corporation, which eventually employed over 400 PhDs; the Microsoft Founder, Bill Gates who is one of the world’s richest men; and Oracle Founder, Larry Ellison, who is worth $28 billion; were all university drop-outs,

Here, at our very backyard, Aliko Dangote barely went beyond the baccalaureate but today, he is easily the richest human in the entire African continent! In his conglomerate, he has many PhDs as truck drivers! Who, then, is the illiterate?

Meanwhile, anti-Buhari crusaders are busy walking Section 131(d) of the 1999 Constitution on its head: “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of President if he has been educated up to at least school certificate level or its equivalent”. This makes school certificate the floor and nowhere in this world is the floor higher than the ceiling.

Buhari’s emergence in this race is for him victory foretold. The antidote for success resides in hard-work and superior performance, not unnecessary smear tactics and mudslinging. This is where the PDP dogmas have thoroughly failed the nation. Who still wants them?


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