Buhari’s Age, Campaign Funds, and Certificate Questions

Amaechi_apcThe presidential candidate of All Progressives Congress, Muhammadu Buhari has not debunked allegations that he is being bankrolled by some Islamic countries. It is only his party and Campaign Organisation that came out to deny the allegation. Buhari dear not open his mouth to deny the allegation because he knows it is true. This is just one of the several questions trailing his candidacy and Nigerians deserve answers. Buhari seems so desperate and happy to accept blood money. Many Nigerians became more worried when a civil rights group, the Peoples Forum demanded an immediate and thorough investigation of the alleged Islamic funding of Buhari.

The spokesman of the Forum, Elias Kaka, said the probe or thorough investigation of the alleged funding was necessary in order to put the records straight and “against the backdrop of the extant security challenges/purported Islamisation of the country by some faceless groups”. It is also pertinent to probe the purported endorsement of Buhari by the terrorist Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).

The issue of Buhari’s endorsement by terrorist groups aside, his age (72+) is a big factor that Nigerian voters must take a second look at. This, clearly, will not be in the interest of Nigeria if he emerges President. At this juncture, we need to take a critical look at the position of Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra State. Obi admonished Nigerians to emulate progressive countries like the United States and United Kingdom which have never elected a president above 70 years of age since the inception of democracy in their countries. He said the oldest person ever elected as the US president was Ronald Reagan at the age of 68.

“The All Progressives Congress does not wish the country well, or else why would the party be agitating for the election of a 73-year-old former Head of State. In a world, where a life-changing protest for democratic change, the demand for free and fair democracy without Chinese interference was led by a 17-year-old boy in Hong Kong, APC is threatening to inflict a 73-year-old grandfather on Nigeria as president.”

“Do you realise that the major search engines and social networks of the world, like Google (1998), Yahoo (1994), Ebay (1995), Facebook (2004) and Alibaba were all founded by young people less than 40 years? Most of the captains of industry in Nigeria today are led by men and women who were not yet in primary school 31 years ago when Buhari’s was head of state.”

Obi said considering the fact that APC believes that its presidential candidate is the best in the annals of Nigeria’s history, does not indicate that he should be asked to come back. He added: “The Singaporeans are not asking Lee Kwuan Yu to come back. Malaysians are not asking Mahathir Mohamad to come back. The Americans are also not asking Bill Clinton, who came to office 10 years after Buhari’s first outing and who had the best economic performance in the 21st century, to come back. Are we saying that Nigeria has not produced anyone who can do the job today?”

Let’s critically look at the issue of Buhari’s certificate scandal. This man told us that he gave his original school certificate to the military authorities and could not present it to INEC. What a story. I have not seen any institution that will demand for and hold on to the original certificate of any student forever. Has anybody ever asked him to at least present the photocopy? At least, he would have made a photocopy before handing over the original to military authorities, if that crap is indeed true.

It is heart-warming that a socio-political pressure group, The Leadership and Accountability Initiative has petitioned the Secretary of Nigeria Military Board and the Independent National Electoral Commission over Buhari’s certificate scandal. The group in a letter signed by its Executive Coordinator, Prince Henry Shield, demanded that the public be provided the credentials of the APC candidate as claimed in the sworn affidavit. Shield noted that the group application was hinged on the strength of Sections 1 and 7 of the Freedom of Information Act, adding that the claims by Buhari are spurious and lack merit.

Now, let’s move to the issue of Buhari his anti-corruption stance. The APC presidential candidate has been going around campaign grounds vowing to fight corruption to a standstill. Has anybody cared to ask him how he would handle Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Bukola Saraki, sani Ahmed Yerima, el-rufai and the rest of his friends and party leaders indicted by anti-corruption bodies. Nasir el-rufai, the former FCT minister has cases in court over corruption and has been using the judiciary to frustrate the EFCC. El-rufai is believed to have looted the FCT when he was minister, allocating lands to his family members and girlfriends. How will he Handle Tinubu, a man Nuhu Ribadu, the former EFCC boss once referred to as one of the most corrupt governors in Nigeria? What about Bukola Saraki and his atrocities in the defunct Society General Bank and Kwara State? These are the people frolicking with Buhari now.

Can we afford to elect a President who won’t be able to enter most of the developed countries in the world because of his past human rights records? This is another question Nigerians must ponder as the Presidential election date draws near. Three decades after the failure of his government’s sponsored abduction and illegal repatriation of the erstwhile Minister of Transport, Alhaji Umaru Dikko, via a cargo crate, Buhari’s proposed attempt to return to the United Kingdom as part of his global campaign circuit, received a major setback recently as most major UK and Europe-based institutions have turned down his request for visitation.

Buhari Campaign team received sour reception from some institutions, government and non-government organizations that it had approached over the planned visitation. It was gathered that a consultant working for the campaign organisation had approached the Chatam House, select members of the House of Commons, members of the EU Parliament, as well as top advocacy groups, policy makers and public opinion molders. But this has not yielded the desired result. This rejection is not unconnected with the poor human rights record of Buhari during his reign as military Head of State. The APC’s Presidential candidate’s perceived link with extremist Islamic organizations as well as his propensity to instigate electoral violence did not help his case.

The U.K Foreign Office’s most recent annual report on human rights and democracy said the country would reject any ties with known despots and human rights violators. It expressed opposition to, “the use of unlawful and arbitrary measures to target human rights defenders including enforced disappearance; house arrest; restrictions on freedom of movement, communication and association; extrajudicial detention and harassment of family members by both past and current leaders across the globe”. Top APC wigs pulled all strings to seek alternative platform for the ex-military dictator in Europe but they did not succeed.

It is also on record that some human rights groups are mulling the idea of instituting a process that could lead to the arrest of the former dictator to answer charges on the botched extra-judicial deportation of the late Umaru Dikko. Buhari could be charged under the popular United Kingdom Common law which carries a maximum life sentence for ordering the kidnap and barbaric deportation of Dikko a move which sparked a major diplomatic row between Nigeria and the UK.

Lawyers also pointed out that the botched kidnap also contravened the British Aviation Security Act of 1982. It would be recalled that plane designated to transport Dikko who was drugged by his abductors was waiting in the tarmac for its `consignment’ before eagle eyed UK custom officials intervened.

The human rights groups are mulling the idea of getting Buhari prosecuted in Britain at a time the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, David Cameron is facing severe criticism for his perceived watering down of Britain’s “ethical” foreign policy towards human rights violators and known despots.

Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren, director of the campaign group Free Tibet, said recently on dealing with dictators, “Mr. Cameron needs to restore our pride. Mr. Cameron stands up for human rights in Sri Lanka and the right of self-determination in the Falklands. He must show to the world that Britain stands up for justice everywhere in the world.”

One other issue that has dominated Buhari’s campaign is his planned economic policy. He has been going about distorting Jonathan’s economic performance. Buhari said Jonathan should be held responsible for the decline in the value of naira. This is not true. I am sure most Nigerians understand what is happening in the world today. The depreciation in the exchange rate is a worldwide phenomenon fuelled by the fall in oil prices and other elements of the increasing global economic and security challenges. Hardest hit are countries that export petroleum products.

We also need to look at what is happening in Russia and other places. In just a year, the Russian rubbles lost 40 per cent of its value. The Venezuelan currency even lost more than that. The interesting thing about these countries is that they are not calling for the crucifixion of their leaders, rather, they are supporting them with an understanding that the gale will pass away. -Thisdaylive

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