President Muhammadu Buhari has accused the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, of not possessing the statutory educational qualification to contest the February 23, 2019 election.
In his counter-accusation, Buhari dared Atiku to produce his “educational certificates, indicating the schools attended by him, with dates,” before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress, winner of the election.
But Atiku and the PDP filed a petition before the tribunal seeking an order nullifying Buhari’s victory and another order declaring them as the true winner of the poll.
The petitioners alleged, among others, that Buhari gave false information about his school certificate in the Form CF001, which he submitted to INEC.
They had alleged that Buhari did not possess secondary school certificate he laid claim to in the form.
But in a reply filed on his behalf on Wednesday by his lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the President said he possessed more than the constitutionally required educational qualifications to contest the election.
He said it was Atiku who lacked the required educational qualification and challenged him to contradict the assertion with proof.
Buhari said he was “head and shoulder above” Atiku in terms of educational qualifications, training and courses attended, both within and outside Nigeria.
He also said he surpassed Atiku in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals and experience.
The reply read in part, “The respondent (Buhari) avers that he is far more qualified, both constitutionally and educationally, to contest and occupy the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria than the 1st petitioner; and that in terms of educational qualifications, training and courses attended, both within and outside Nigeria, he is head and shoulder above the 1st petitioner in terms of acquisition of knowledge, certificates, laurels, medals and experience.
“Respondent states further that it is the 1st petitioner who is not qualified to contest the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and challenges the educational credentials and certificates of the 1st petitioner.
“The 1st petitioner is hereby given notice to produce and tender his educational certificates, indicating the schools attended by him, with dates.”
Buhari denied submitting false information to INEC in respect of his educational qualification.
He quoted his resume as reading, in part:
“Elementary School Daura and Maid’adua – 1948 to 1952;
“Middle School, Katsina – 1953 to 1956;
“Katsina Provincial Secondary School (now Daura Government College, Katsina) – 1956 to 1961.”
The reply added, “He (Buhari) did not, at any time, provide any false information in the Form CF001 submitted to the 1st respondent, either in 2014 or 2018.
“The affidavit of compliance to the 2019 Form CF001 was correct in every material particular.
“In filling Form CF001 in 2014 and 2019, the respondent was not oblivious of the constitutional qualifications stipulated in Section 131 of the Constitution and interpreted in Section 318 of the same Constitution.
“Petitioners themselves are also not oblivious of the fact that the respondent possesses far more than the constitutional threshold expected of a candidate contesting for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Buhari asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition, saying that it contained more of pre-election issues, which the Court of Appeal, sitting as a tribunal lacked jurisdiction to entertain.
He argued that the petitioners’ claims were self-defeating.
He noted that while the petitioners claimed to have won the last presidential election and also won elections in many states in the South-South and the South-East regions of the country, they also urged the court to nullify the election and order a fresh presidential election.
Buhari argued that by virtue of Section 137 of the Electoral Act the, petitioners could not question the results of elections in states where they claimed to have won and still retain themselves as petitioners.
He faulted the petitioners’ claim that the election was marred by corrupt practices and substantial non-compliance with the Electoral Act.
He added, “To the knowledge of the petitioners themselves, and acceptance of the 1st respondent in particular, as well as Nigerians generally, the respondent meets far more than the constitutional and educational threshold demanded of a candidate contesting for the office of President of Nigeria.”
Buhari also denied the claim by Atiku that the TraderMoni policy of the government was a vote-buying measure.
He argued that the policy formed one of the many social intervention policies of the Federal Government, directed at alleviating the suffering of the masses.
Guinean Military Junta Dissolves Government, Seals Country’s Borders
Guinea’s military junta, which took power through a coup in September 2021, has officially dissolved the government, as announced via a presidential decree read on state TV by the presidency’s Secretary General, Brig Gen Amara Camara.
The announcement was not followed by details regarding the rationale of this dissolution, or the timeline for establishing a new government.
As part of the dissolution, ministers in the now-dissolved government have been instructed to surrender their passports and official vehicles, and also given directives for their bank accounts to be frozen.
The junta has also directed security agencies to “seal” all of Guinea’s borders until the complete handover of government ministries to the junta.
According to Camara, during the interim period until a new government is appointed, lower-level officials will manage state ministries.
The dissolved government, led by Prime Minister Bernard Goumou, was appointed by coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, who led Guinea’s armed forces in overthrowing elected President Alpha Condé in September 2021. The coup came after a series of protests against Condé’s controversial bid for a third term.
Guinea, as well as several other countries in West and central Africa, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Gabon, have experienced coups in recent years. These coups have faced strong condemnation from West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS, the African Union, and the UN.
The junta and ECOWAS had earlier set a 24-month transition period, and Guinea is expected to hold elections to restore democratic rule within 10 months, as the transition period comes to an end.
Atiku’s Aide Accuses Tinubu’s Govt of Diverting Funds Through Fake Petrol Subsidy
Phrank Shaibu, a Special Assistant on Public Communication to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, has alleged that the refusal of the Federal government to react to recent reports on the return of petrol subsidy shows that public funds have started going into private pockets.
Shaibu made the allegation through a statement while reacting to reports by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Nigerian government has begun paying petrol subsidy again.
According to media reports, monthly subsidy payment is nearly N1 trillion, far in excess of exceeds the amount paid monthly by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Reacting to the allegation, Shaibu said it has become clear that one of the reasons the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has not been paying the required amount of money into the government’s account is because monies are being diverted under an opaque and secret subsidy regime.
He alleged: “Tinubu has been boasting at every economic forum that he deserves to be in the Guinness Book of records for removing petrol subsidy.
“He even said before ringing the closing bell at NASDAQ in New York last September that the ‘corrupt subsidy’ regime and FX issues had been resolved.
“But as every other thing relating to Tinubu, this has turned out to be another lie from the pit of hell. Currently, the exchange rate based on what the Central Bank of Nigeria recommended to the Nigeria Customs Service is N1515/$1.
“Hence diesel price is now over N1,200 but petrol is still selling for between N600 and N700.
“Nigeria is the only country in the world where such disparity between diesel and petrol exists. It has become obvious that petrol subsidy has returned through the backdoor.
“With the return of petrol subsidy, oil marketers have opted out and that is why the NNPC has returned to being the sole importer of petrol once more and has the temerity to be announcing that it will not increase petrol cost regardless of the international price of crude oil and the exchange rate.
“To be clear, petrol subsidy in itself is not a bad thing when it is done transparently.”
Shaibu added: “Former CBN Governor, Lamido Sanusi, expressed shock last month that NNPC was still not remitting FX into government’s accounts.
“It is now obvious why this has been happening. Subsidy has returned but it is now being done in a corrupt and secret manner as funds are now being diverted into private pockets even worse than under Buhari. This is the Tinubu Lagos legacy from Lagos State.”
Shaibu said it was disappointing that the Finance Minister, Wale Edun; and CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso, who both claimed to have gotten their appointments based on their expertise had failed to speak up but had continued to cover up the petrol subsidy.
He also alleged that the Tinubu government had continued to frustrate the takeoff of the Dangote refinery which would have at least reduced Nigeria’s FX demands.
“The media reported last week that lingering regulatory approvals have stalled Dangote Petrochemical Refinery’s plan to release aviation fuel (Jet A1) and diesel for sale in the Nigerian market.
“At the same time, Dangote refinery has been struggling to get the needed crude oil and has decided to import from the United States while the NNPC which has no business with monetary policy, committed Nigeria’s crude oil for a $3.3 billion Afreximbank loan ostensibly to stabilise the naira.
“It is obvious that Tinubu and his so-called economic team are quacks, charlatans who put their personal interest ahead of that of the country. With such Lilliputians at the helm of affairs, Nigeria’s economic woes are about to go from bad to worse,” Shaibu added.
UK Economy Slips into ‘Technical’ Recession
The United Kingdom slipped into a technical recession in the second half of last year after its economy registered two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, official figures have shown.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced through a statement on Thursday that Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.3 percent in the last three months of 2023, after contracting 0.1 percent in the third quarter.
It meant that the economy entered a technical recession, as defined by two or more quarters in a row of falling GDP.
It marked the first time the UK had entered recession since the first half of 2020 when the initial COVID-19 lockdown sent the country’s economy plunging into reverse.
The figures dealt a blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who had promised to grow the economy as one of his five priorities.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said inflation and high-interest rates were behind the output fall but insisted the economy was turning a corner.
He said: “While interest rates are high so the Bank of England can bring inflation down low growth is not a surprise.
“But there are signs the British economy is turning a corner; forecasters agree that growth will strengthen over the next few years.
“Wages are rising faster than prices; mortgage rates are down and unemployment remains low.
“Although times are still tough for many families, we must stick to the plan of cutting taxes on work and business to build a stronger economy.”
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said the Prime Minister’s promise to grow the economy was in tatters.
“The Prime Minister can no longer claim credibly that his plan is working or that he has turned the corner on more than 14 years of economic decline under the Conservatives that has left Britain worse off.
“This is Rishi Sunak’s recession and the news will be deeply worrying for families and businesses across Britain,’’ he said.