Muahammadu Buhari
Muahammadu Buhari

|? By Maureen Chigbo? |

THESE are not the best of times for the All Progressives Congress 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.

Muahammadu Buhari
Muahammadu Buhari

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 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 has 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

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, 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?, further chipped away the credibility of the statement of result released by the college to support General Buhari?s claims that he attended secondary school.

According to the his research, 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

?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

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

Political thugs attacked the convoy of President Jonathan in Katsina State

?We recall that just before the 2011 general elections, the then presidential candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, General Muhammadu Buhari had categorically directed crowds in Hausa at his campaign rallies in the North particularly Minna, Kaduna and Maiduguri to protect their votes at all cost including killing and elimination of others?, he said.

Another source of pressure for the Buhari Campaign team is the fact that the supporters of their candidate is increasing being associated with physical violence. This might be as a result of the unrelenting push on the part of PDP to rubbish the image of Buhari which climaxed with the vexatious advertorial by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State urging Nigerians not to vote for the APC candidate because he is old and not healthy.

But a recourse to violence by Buhari?s supporters as an answer to the ugly advertorial serves as a reminder to Buhari?s previous statements that monkeys and baboons will swim in blood if he loses election due to rigging in 2015. ?For instance, for the second time in three days, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and top officials of his administration, as well as of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, were yesterday attacked by angry youths believed to be supporters of the opposition APC.

The President?s campaign which had been attacked in Jos where buses belonging to the party were burnt were also kicked on February 14, in Bauchi State by the youths, who chanted anti-Jonathan slogans, destroyed PDP billboards, and disrupted proceedings at the rally. They also damaged vehicles belonging the president?s campaign team and stoned his convoy as he went through town.

Six operatives of the Department of State Security, DSS, attached to the president have been hospitalised after sustaining varying degrees of injuries from the attack, a presidential source said this morning, adding that the presidential body guards got injured when the APC supporters attacked the last bus on the convoy which conveyed the DSS operatives with a big stone which smashed the windscreen and caused injuries for the occupants. ?While four of them who only needed minor treatment were discharged immediately, another two, a lady and a man who had deep cuts on their heads were seriously injured and will be flown to Abuja immediately for operations,? the source said.

Buhari's Statement of Results

The violence erupted after a section of the crowd at the rally started throwing stones, sachets of water and other objects into the pavilion where dignitaries were standing to address the audience. Eyewitnesses said that after the rally, the youths also attacked anyone seen coming from the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, IBB, Square venue.

President Jonathan?s convoy was reportedly stoned at Nasarawa area of the state capital as he made his way to the palace of the traditional ruler of Bauchi, Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu. The President?s billboards and posters had been pulled off across Bauchi a few hours to his arrival. President Jonathan?s campaign train had been similarly attacked on Tuesday in Katsina, the home state of APC?s presidential candidate, Gen. Buhari (rtd.).

Both Buhari and APC have dissociated themselves from the attacks, with Buhari specifically declaring that no one should insult or attack anyone on his behalf. Lai Mohammed, APC publicity secretary issued a statement last week, also condemning the attack on the president?s convoy.

Nonetheless, Asari Dokubo, former Niger Delta militant, has called on APC leaders to stop the violence given the fact that their own candidate campaigned in the South and in Bayelsa the President?s home state without anybody attacking him.

?We express our disappointment in Buhari for instigating his supporters to attack President Jonathan?s convoy in his home state of Katsina. Buhari has clearly?demonstrated his violent nature. It will be recalled that when Buhari came to the South-South to campaign, especially in Bayelsa State (Jonathan?s home state), Jonathan specifically instructed that everything should be done to ensure that Buhari?s campaign was not disrupted in any way in the zone. Hence, the IYC made several radio announcements and set up a team at the Samson Siasia Stadium, Yenagoa, to ensure that the campaign was trouble-free,? a statement issued by the Ijaw Youth Council Worldwide, IYC, spokesman Eric Omare said.

According to him, ?Now that Buhari?s supporters with his knowledge have decided to carry out consistent attacks on President Jonathan and his supporters, we wish to state clearly that we shall retaliate.?

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Source: Real News Magazine Online

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