Constitutional Law;Educational Requirement For Executives

It’s no more news about President Buhari’s school certificate saga and the need for him to provide his school certificate after Sen. Adeleke’s issue of school certificate arose. In Section 131 of the Nigerian Constitution it stipulates the constitutional requirement to be qualified for the office of the president and Subsection ‘d’ lays emphasis on the academic requirement,which says; “he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent”. Let’s consider these questions and see if the President really need to provide his school certificate or just prove he was educated up to a senior school certificate level.

What does it really mean to be educated up to Senior School Certificate Level?

With the introduction of the 6-3-3-4 system of education in Nigeria, the recipient of the education would spend six years in primary school, three years in junior secondary school, three years in senior secondary school, and four years in tertiary institution. The six years spent in primary school and the three years spent in junior secondary school are merged to form the nine in the 9-3-4 system. Altogether, the students must spend a minimum period of six years in Secondary School. During this period, students are expected to spend three years in Junior Secondary School and three years in Senior Secondary School. The Federal Government policy on education is adhered to by all secondary schools in Nigeria. Six years of elementary school is followed by six years of secondary school. Junior Secondary school consists of JSS1, JSS2 and JSS3 while the Senior Secondary school consists of SSI, SS2 and SS3. The Senior Secondary School Examination (SSCE) is taken at the end of the SS3. However,a situation whereby someone is educated up to SS3 but couldn’t sit for the Senior Secondary School Examination(SSCE), does that mean the person isn’t educated or he lacks the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language so because of that the person isn’t eligible to contest for the office of the President? The answer is NO because these candidates need not produce certificates evidencing that they passed secondary school examination or sat for the examination. What they must produce is evidence of being educated up to the secondary school level.

What can serve as a prove of been educated up to Senior School Certificate level?

While it may well be that production of a Certificate is evidence which proves the above, it is not the only mode of proving it. Testimonials, Reference Letters and Affidavit are legitimate vehicles of proof that a candidate has been “educated up to Secondary School Certificate level.“The constitutional requirement in Section 131 subsection “D” is  much more elastic and accommodating. It recognizes “any other qualification acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission” as a qualification to contest election to the office of President and other elective posts.

In conclusion, President Muhammadu Buhari don’t really need to produce a Certificate as an evidence of been educated up to Secondary School Certificate Level as Testimonials from his Secondary School, Reference Letters and Affidavits are legitimate vehicles of proof that he has been “educated up to Secondary School Certificate level.