With less than 3 weeks away to the general elections, it seems altogether right that the qualification of anyone aspiring to the office of President should agitate our minds.
Except that, in the typically Nigerian way, the agitation is overshadowed largely by politics, and is not focusing on the issue, so vital to the national interest, as to the qualification or qualities appropriate in a person to govern our affairs and our lives for four years, using “qualification” in the sense defined in the dictionary to mean “that which qualifies or fits a person for any use or purpose, as for an office, or employment.”
The political process in Nigeria does not entirely account for the intellectual poverty and educational inadequacy of presidential leadership.
An excerpt from Allafrica Publication reveals the necessary criterion an individual needs to have to be the next president of Nigeria. Part of the blame lies with the Constitution, section 131 of which provides.
(a) He must be a citizen of Nigeria by birth
(b) He must have attained the age of forty years
(c) He must be a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party
(d) He must have been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.
As if school certificate prescribed in section 131(d) is not inadequate already, “school certificate or its equivalent” is defined in section 318(1) to mean:
“(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 (i.e. without the certificate); 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 totaling 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 provision says nothing about the person’s background, antecedents, experience, character, including qualities like integrity, sense of fairness, justice and impartiality, and of loyalty to the Constitution in terms of the Oaths in The Seventh Schedule, and his psychological or mental state.