By Ifeanyi Maduako
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate in the last presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari, have raised so much dust on the issue of nationality of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate who was a former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the ongoing trial at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) in Abuja. President Buhari and the APC as respondents to the suit instituted by Atiku are questioning the eligibility of Atiku for contesting the last presidential election on the ground that Atiku is not a Nigerian having been allegedly originated from a part of Adamawa State that they are claming belongs to Cameroon and therefore, shouldn’t have contested the election in the first place.
However, assuming without conceding that Atiku is a Cameroonian,if the area of Adamawa State he comes from belongs to Cameroon, is Atiku the only person that originates from that place? Did INEC conduct election in that part of Nigeria as constitutionally delineated electoral ward(s)? Does Atiku alone make up an electoral ward? Are there other human beings who voted alongside Atiku in the part of Nigeria that APC and President Buhari are ceding to Cameroon? According to the results announced by INEC for the presidential election, Buhari was said to have defeated Atiku in his own ward in that part of Adamawa State which is now Cameroon. If that was true, does that not invalidate or void the entire result of the presidential election? How could Cameroonians have participated and voted in a Nigerian election in which President Buhari and the APC won? Again, is Atiku’s single vote the only invalid or illegal vote in that Nigerian presidential election since he came from Cameroon?
Prior to Atiku’s venture into politics, he was born in Nigeria, schooled in Nigeria, worked in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) before he voluntarily retired. As a Customs officer, he carried out functions and duties on behalf of the Nigeria State. After retirement, he joined politics and was one of the presidential aspirants in the aborted Third Republic political dispensation. He was a member of the 1995 Constitutional Conference that drafted the 1999 Constitution which ushered in the Fourth Republic democracy of 1999. Could a Cameroonian have participated in the drafting of the Nigerian most important document which is the Constitution of Nigeria? For being a signatory to the Constitutional Conference which eventually culminated to Nigerian Constitution of 1999, is his Cameroonian background not harmful to the entire Constitution? Does that not make the Constitution an illegal document since Atiku (a Cameroonian) was a signatory to it?
As elected Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku had taken the Oath of Office and sworn by the Constitution of Nigeria, two times – 1999 and 2003. As a Cameroonian that they claim he is, he was elected the Vice President of Nigeria twice and even paired with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a Nigerian, does the allegation of his Cameroonian origin voids and invalidates Obasanjo’s Presidency of Nigeria for eight years? Does the fact that Chief Obasanjo paired with a Cameroonian as President and Vice President make his regime an illegal and unconstitutional one and therefore, should be expunged from being accorded their rights as former President and former Vice Presidents respectively?
Again, assuming without conceding that Atiku is actually not a Nigerian and as such shouldn’t have contested the presidential election, but for the fact that he has been in Nigeria for over seventy years as a Customs Officer and Vice President, by reason of association and longevity, he had long become a Nigerian and was actually qualified for the presidential election. How long does it take for a non-citizen of Nigeria to naturalize and become an indigene or citizen of that country going by the Constitution of Nigeria?
President Buhari and the APC are just clawing at the straw because they have a serious issue of Buhari’s educational qualification to contend with at the tribunal. Buhari’s obvious educational non-qualification and Atiku’s so-called non-citizenship are not the same and cannot be the same.
Maduako, the NATIONAL COORDINATOR, VOTE FOR ATIKU INITIATIVE (VAI), writes from Owerri (08061562735).