Is the Tide Turning against Buhari?

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Buhari

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The All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign team is seemingly losing the momentum they have built over the months by allowing the PDP campaign machinery to define their presidential candidates narrative by the raging certificate scandal

By Maureen Chigbo  |  Feb. 2, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

THESE are not the best of times for the All Progressives Congress, APC, and its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (RTD). After seizing the momentum for months with soaring popularity, former head of State and his campaign team appears to have been pushed into the defensive mode. Since last year, the APC machinery has been on the offensive, lampooning the ruling the People’s Democratic Party and characterising President Goodluck Jonathan’s as clueless, weak and corrupt.

But in the past three weeks, the Peoples Democratic Party machinery is clearly seizing the narrative. The tide seemed to have turned against Buhari when he tripped at a campaign rally  in Calabar, Cross River State thereby giving his opponents the weapon to raise issues about the status of his health. It got worse when the news of the school certificate scandal broke. It started like a joke but it caught on and spread all over the country like a stoked up fire in harmattan season consuming everything on its way. The certificate fire is ravaging the carefully constructed image of General Buhari as the most incorruptible Nigerian because he failed to attach his school certificate in the form he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. Buhari had sworn an affidavit he attached to his form stating that the Army was in custody of his certificates.

When the Army was besieged by journalists and civil society groups who invoked the Freedom of Information Act to provide the document, it called a press conference to state that the General’s certificate was not in its custody.

Lai Mohammed
Mohammed

Following this, General Buhari called a press conference to address the issue once and for all. He said that his certificate was with the provincial school he attended with late Musa Ya ’Adua, adding that he had requested the school to release his credential. On Wednesday, January 21, Buhari’s certificate was published in the media. Instead of quenching the fire, the PDP media team is now asking the police to prosecute Buhari for perjury, dismissing the certificate as fake because it was allegedly superimposed on another among other issues.

Closely allied to the PDP position is a research report by A. A. Adeyinka, professor of Educational Foundations in the University of Ilorin, which punched holes in the claims by presidential candidate of the APC, in the result that he sat for and got credit pass in Hausa Language from the Provincial College (now Government College, Katsina), in 1961. According to Adeyinka, no school in Nigeria offered subjects in local languages at the time. Adeyinka’s research report, titled ‘Major Trends in Curriculum Development in Nigeria’, available at www.unilorin.edu, prior to the emergence of a centralised  government by the regime of General Yakubu Gowon from 1966 to 1975, all regions in Nigeria had different academic curriculums. He added that it was only the Western Region that offered a local language as a subject in both their curriculum and school certificate examinations. The university don said it was after a central government was formed and a universal educational curriculum was developed and adopted that other local languages were included in schools curriculums in 1974.

He listed subjects in the academic curriculum to include English Language, Biology, Commerce, Principles of Accounts, Health Science, Literature in English, Bible Knowledge, History, Geography, Yoruba, Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Adeyinka said Yoruba entered the academic curriculum following the recommendations of a Commission set up to review the academic curriculum for schools in the then Western Region.

Goodluck Jonathan
Jonathan

“In the former Western Region, for example, both the Banjo Report (1961) and the Taiwo Report (1968) recommended the revision of the school syllabuses and the introduction of a new structure of education. The Banjo Report specifically recommended a new model for secondary education, comprising junior and senior secondary schools. The curriculum of the former should be comprehensive. This was partly the origin of the Aiyetoro Comprehensive School experiment started in 1963. The Taiwo Committee recommended that the primary-school curriculum should be overhauled and new syllabuses prepared in such subjects as Mathematics and Social Studies. Similar recommendations were made in the East (Dike 1959, Ivan Ikoku, 1964),” he wrote.

As if the certificate nightmare is not enough, a coalition of 17 non-governmental organisations operating primarily in the Northern states of Nigeria are now calling for the prosecution of Buhari over the post-election violence of 2011. The organisation has already sought the services of an interactional human rights lawyer working with ICC t assist in bring Buhari to book. The group is engaging Professor Goran Sluiter, who will stay in Abuja, from January 22 to 25 to consult with the NCDJ and other stakeholders, to handle its case against Buhari.

The group said in Abuja, on Thursday, January 22,  that it had evidence that the highly inflammatory public comments made by Buhari prior to, during and immediately after the elections-led directly to the deaths of more than 800 people and the displacement of more than 65,000 individuals in April 2011.

Sluiter, a partner at the Amsterdam law firm of Prakken d’Oliveira Human Right Lawyers and a lawyer practicing at the International Criminal Court, ICC, who addressed journalists on behalf of NCDJ, said a complaint would be filed in the name of the group to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC in The Hague.

Jonathan's campaign bus is set ablaze by unidentified youths
Jonathan’s campaign bus is set ablaze by unidentified youths

The complaint, according to him, would supplement a previous ICC filing submitted by the NCDJ in May 2011. “Based on the available evidence, there are compelling reasons to believe that crimes against humanity including murder, torture, rape, forcible population transfer and other inhumane acts were committed in the context of the politically motivated sectarian violence that immediately followed the Nigerian presidential elections of April 2011.

“Due to the seriousness of these crimes and the lack of adequate response by the Nigerian authorities, the prosecutor of the ICC will be asked to conduct investigations into the alleged acts and their perpetrators, in particular former head of state General Muhammed Buhari,” Sluiter said

Sluiter said that bringing those responsible for electoral violence to account would go a long way towards diminishing such threats and restoring faith and confidence in Nigeria’s political system. He maintained that NCDJ represents the aspirations of all Nigerians who look forward to a day when their country’s politicians regardless of their party, faith, ethnicity or geographic affiliation can and will refrain from the kind of hateful and sectarian rhetoric that inevitably leads to death, destruction and displacement.

Similarly, Umar Farouk, secretary general of NCJD, said the group was compelled to reiterate its resolve to sustain the process for the prosecution of General Buhari for his role that led to the 2011 post-election violence in some parts of Northern Nigeria. He said it is in the interest of the nation that those responsible for the premeditated arson, killings and destruction of properties must be brought to justice, noting that the case when instituted in 2011 was devoid of partisanship and any form of political colouration

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