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UNDERSTAND WHAT THE NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION SAID ABOUT THE EDUCATION QUALIFICATION OF A WOULD-BE NIGERIAN PRESIDENT PART 2

Section 318 of the Nigerian Constitution provides for interpretation, citation and commencement. We will restrict ourselves to what the Constitution says about “School Certificate or It’s Equivalent.”

IT SAYS EXPLICITLY:

“School Certificate or its equivalent” means
(a) a Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent, or Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate; or

(b) education up to Secondary School Certificate level; or

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(c) Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent and –

(i) service in the public or private sector in the Federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for a minimum of ten years, and

(ii) attendance at courses and training in such institutions as may be acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for periods totalling up to a minimum of one year, and

(iii) the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission, and

(d) any other qualification acceptable by the Independent National Electoral Commission;”

Nothing in the above was written by me. Nothing in it was added in the tenure of the current government. What the Constitution appears to be saying is that even if you do not have either of (a), (b) or (c) and you have (d) you are qualified to be President because you would have met the criteria of the equivalent of a School Certificate.

Some will argue that (d) is dependent on either of (a), (b) or (c) because of the “and” that begins it rather than “or”.

Others will argue that “and” operates as a conclusion of the list in that context, otherwise it would have been (iv) of (c) flowing from (iii) which is similar to it.

The reason for this argument would be that (a), (b) or (c) were sufficient on their own and could not have been made so by (d) as a condition. After all, the conditions in (c) were subsumed under it. For (d), therefore, to be separate from (c) in spite of being similar to (c) (iii) could only mean that it suffices as an interpretation of the equivalent of school Certificate like (a), (b) and (c) and not a condition to any or the combination of all.

If however, it serves as a condition to any or the combination of (a), (b) or (c) as some would argue, the begging question would be why is it not (c) (iv)? Others would even ask if it has been the rule that when an Aspiring President presents his School Certificate, he has to accompany it with any other qualification acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission? That is certainly not the case.

All arguments are tenable but must be sufficiently argued in a Court of law and adjudicated upon to the Supreme Court.

While I do not agree that (d) should be part of the provisions of the Constitution, as at today it is there and I verily believe that if the INEC were to be asked if a given qualification beyond any of what was stated was sufficient to pass as an equivalent of School Certificate, in just the same way the Court declared President Buhari eminently qualified given his Post-school Certificate qualifications, they too would so do on the basis of the law.

For now, this is what the law is. If you don’t like it, work to change it. Don’t condemn the Courts for relying on it to deliver judgments. The law is what it is: Law; with binding force on all within Nigeria.

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