In an apparent endorsement of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, who he overthrew in a bloodless coup 30 years ago, former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, has stated that retired generals will support Buhari’s bid for the presidency.
Despite Babangida’s seeming endorsement, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday insisted that the APC presidential candidate’s failure to present his secondary school certificate in order to put paid to questions over his eligibility to contest next month’s election, was indicative that he was not even qualified to have been made a commissioned officer of the Nigerian Army.
Babangida, who made this known on Monday in Minna, Niger State, when Buhari paid him a visit, said: “They will support their own.”
Babangida said he was proud of the persistence and perseverance of Buhari in seeking to offer himself for service at the highest level in the country’s young democracy.
“You have beaten some of us in proving Gen. Douglas Macarthur’s theory that old soldiers never die but fade away gradually. But you have refused to fade away,” he added.
He went on to commended APC for honouring the military by nominating Buhari, stating: “I wish to congratulate members of the party for the honour of nominating my colleague, General Muhammadu Buhari, as your presidential candidate for the 2015 election.”
Babangida also accused the media of misrepresenting his relationship with Buhari, adding that it was far from what had been reported.
“You media men have created this impression that we are fighting each other. Look at us here today, he knows what I mean and I know what he means. We both fought to keep Nigeria one when we were young majors then. We were well travelled.
“I want to commend APC for choosing our colleague as its standard-bearer. All of us will support you (Buhari) in this course to salvage this country,” IBB stated.
Earlier, the APC presidential candidate said he was in Minna in continuation of his nationwide campaign for votes to salvage the country from 16 years of misrule by the PDP government.
Buhari, who was elated with IBB’s words of support and encouragement, said he had earlier met with former President Olusegun Obasanjo whom he failed to lure to APC, but had given him confidence to pursue his (Buhari’s) aspiration.
Meanwhile, the PDP has continued to question Buhari’s eligibility to contest next month’s presidential election and went as far as questioning his military career.
In a statement by the Director of Media and Publicity, PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, the party said: “It is disingenuous for Buhari to say that he contested previous elections and that the issue of his qualifications did not arise.
“Had INEC not complied with the Electoral Act this year, which requires that it pastes the academic credentials of all the presidential candidates, Nigerians would have remained ignorant of the fact that Buhari has probably been submitting affidavits for past elections.”
It maintained that the fact that he got away with it in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections did not make it right, adding: “The minimum that Nigerians require from Buhari is the presentation of his secondary school certificate which enabled him to gain admission into the Nigerian Military College in 1962 and on which basis he became a commissioned officer of the Nigerian Army.
“This forms the fulcrum for the subsequent courses that he attended as he rose in the Army, including the U.S. War College. Failure to produce that school certificate implies that Buhari's entire career in the army was based on falsehood which cannot stand.
“This brings to question the admission system/policy into the army in the early 1960s. Were the rules bent for certain individuals in fulfillment of the quota system?”
PDP also made references to the book written by General Alabi Isama on the Nigeria civil war titled, “The Tragedy of Victory: On the Spot Account of the Nigerian-Biafran War in the Atlantic Theatre”, saying: "Anyone that reads General Alabi Isama's book which was published last year will know that this was the case.
“In fact, Alabi Isama went as far as to allege that some Nigerians were admitted into the military academy without the necessary qualifications like the secondary school certificate.
“We believe that Buhari was one of those people and this is why he is unable to produce his certificate.
"The truth is that he was never qualified for entry into the Military Academy in the first place and consequently he should never have become a commissioned officer let alone a man that rose to the rank of general. At best, he ought to have remained a non-commissioned officer.
“As long as he cannot produce that secondary school certificate, we believe that he is not qualified to run for the presidency of Nigeria. This is a matter of law and not sentiment.
“Buhari, just like any other Nigerian, must be compelled to abide by the law and he must prove his eligibility for the presidential election by simply producing his secondary school certificate.”