1999 Constitution is Boko Haram

Before Yusuf and his disciples came up with Western education is forbidden (Boko Haram), Professor Auwal Yadudu had codified the concept in a document for Abacha’s self-succession called the 1999 Constitution which is at the heart of most problems confronting Nigeria today.

Thank God I told Professor Yadudu on the floor of the 2014 National Conference that we are bogged down with all the lacunas in the Constitution he prepared for the late General Sani Abacha. I saw my friend and brother, Comrade Dan Nwayanwu, walking to his seat as I made the point. He later told me he went to tease the Law Professor “You see people know about this thing.”

There is no evidence Abacha had serious education and the Constitution was prepared in a way to ensure that leadership in Nigeria is the only job for which no serious qualifications are required. Unfortunately, the political crass (class?) in Nigeria lacked the testicular fortitude to ask for a copy of the Decree 24 of 1999 (nicknamed Constitution) before embracing the Abubakar Abdusalami transition.

When I tried to check Abacha’s educational background, this is all I could get. “A Kanuri from Borno, Abacha was born and brought up in Kano, Nigeria. He attended the Nigerian Military Training College and Mons Officer Cadet School before being commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in 1963”.

Our Constitution was therefore tailored to make him eligible for self-succession before he expired in June 1998 and the Yadudu draft was picked from under his pillow for Nigeria to continue its leadership disaster. Niki Tobi Committee empanelled to look at the draft had only 155 days to peruse it.

Mr Eric Teniola who worked at the Presidency in 1999 has revealed that as of the time our President and Governors were sworn in at the beginning of this dispensation, there was no clean copy of the Constitution as it was still under print at Heritage Press in Abuja!

I recall calling a fellow columnist, Dr Femi Aribisala, a few weeks ago after he wrote that President Buhari was not qualified to contest the 2019 elections on account of certificate requirement. I had told the man with a fiery pen to check the interpretation clause of the Constitution and he would see that there is no educational qualification required to lead Nigeria.

The Appeal Court Panel that ruled on Atiku vs Buhari last Wednesday could have been annoyingly inelegant and overreaching in its presentation of its judgment, as there are those who hold that even if the defendants were to write the judgment in their own case, they would have put it in a nicer form. The cold fact, however, is that we have a Constitution that should not be the basis of governing decent and civilised people in the modern era.

Many Nigerians were of the view that Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution which stipulates conditions for eligibility for the office of the president to include “They have been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent,” meant you need School Certificate to lead Nigeria.

They never bothered to check the interpretation clause to decipher what Professor Yadudu and co meant by “equivalent.”Here is it:

“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

(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;”

The eighth wonder of the world would have been if any society that accepted this type of document to be the instrument of its governance had made it.

By this provisions of this Constitution, if a man appears before the electoral body and an official says “come” and he moves, he tells him to write “go” and he puts the two alphabets correctly and he says “bye” to him and he too says “bye officer”; he is eminently qualified to lead Nigeria.

The electoral body is at liberty to even accept a “qualification” according to its whims and caprices. If a candidate presents a “certificate “ from Tramadoll Academy in Sambisa Forest and INEC is satisfied with it, eligibility is assured.

By this weird provision a  10-year service as fuel attendant (private sector ) or 10 years as messenger (public sector) is enough to qualify for the No 1 job in the country.

The Presidential Election Tribunal should have interpreted the law as it is to do their job without behaving like the proverbial overzealous labourer who does more than a day’s work for a day’s pay; by going into all the legal somersaults of an affidavit being an article of faith and all the rest.

Discerning Nigerians should know by now that this country is going nowhere except we shred this Constitution and put an autochthonous one in its place.

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…Sorry, Buhari and Enwerem

This is the apt time to formally apologise to the Speaker of the House of Reprentatives in 1999, Honourable Salisu Buhari and the Senate President, Chief Evan(s) Enwerem for whatever misguided role I played in their public ridicule because I was one of those who naively thought we had some moral columns.

I have not been able to sleep well after last Wednesday’s all-day judgement by the Presidential Election Tribunal. I realised we wronged these men and my conscience would not allow me to be at rest except I apologise to them publicly.

I would have had to send one of those  ancestors we gave board appointments  to Evan(s) Enwerem but since Salisu Buhari is still alive, I can use him as a point of contact.

The minor offence the first Buhari in this dispensation committee was that he presented a certificate from the University of Toronto which the institution for reasons best known to them said was not theirs. All he should have done was to do an affidavit. We then brought out our stones until Buhari was forced out of office. But being a country of several standards that we are, there are those who have presented such documents from other cities in the world without consequences and are playing ubiquitous roles in our non-country today.

For Uncle Evan(s) Enwerem, just some silly mix-up over just one alphabet ‘s” was why we yanked him off his seat as Senate President while those who “attended “schools that were not yet established in the years they claimed now lead our political process.

The Presidential Election Tribunal has told us we wronged these distinguished Nigerians in their landmark pronouncements.

They held that a candidate is not required under the Electoral Act to attach his certificate to Form CF 001 before he/she is adjudged to have the requisite qualification to contest election and cited a previous Supreme Court judgement in submitting that “submission of educational certificate is not a requirement for qualification to contest election under section 177 of the constitution”.

The tribunal equally said that once one of the names of a candidate is correctly written on the documents for elections the other name with errors pale into insignificance.

Pray, what crime did Buhari and Enwerem commit other than coming 20 years before the arrival of the Daniels of our jurisprudence?

I am sorry gentlemen!


…Pity the nation

The words of Khalil Gibran keep ringing true over Nigeria every now and then:

“Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.

Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave

and eats a bread it does not harvest.


Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,

and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.


Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,

yet submits in its awakening.


Pity the nation that raises not its voice

save when it walks in a funeral,

boasts not except among its ruins,

and will rebel not save when its neck is laid

between the sword and the block.


Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,

whose philosopher is a juggler,

and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,

and farewells him with hooting,

only to welcome another with trumpeting again.

Pity the nation whose sages are dumb with years

and whose strongmen are yet in the cradle.

Pity the nation divided into fragments,

each fragment deeming itself a nation.”

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