The Presidential election is only 16 days away… on St. Valentine’s Day. It takes nothing away from the aroma of this lovers’ day. Because an election in Nigeria is still as delicate as a chinaware shop in which bulls are running amoks, the right to free movement of persons is curtailed from 10am to 6pm on poll days. After the votes would have been counted, results declared and ballot boxes are taken away by the appropriate authorities, lovers and the love industry will have the rest of the day to themselves. The presidential election campaigns are heating up but are still below the standard expected in an election such as thus in which, arguably, the opposition is presenting the strongest showing ever. Incumbent President Ebele Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) appear unwilling to let the hard nuts be cracked. These are economic questions and corruption which Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) would like to make and election issues. Accordingly, the PDP has been focussing on the person of Gen. Buhari to pool wool over these questions and distract the electorate. Incidentally, the APC would appear to still be unable to wrest control of the direction of the campaign from the PDP. But this may count in its favour as every PDP manoeuvre fails to unleash a knock-out. In fact, the goal of the PDP to destroy the person of Buhari, at all cost without informing the electorate wither it would lead Nigeria, may expose it as an empty and desperate party ridden with fear. But only time will tell if the APC can rivet through this emptiness, desperation and fear to knock out the president.

A Presidential election such as this in which the forces are reasonably well matched paints the picture of a boxing ring and two boxers set out for a championship duet. The PDP probably believes that, by focusing attention on Buhari’s person and demolishing it, attention will be shifted from what Buhari represents and which the electorate may be yearning for. … an anti-corruption crusade which will resolve problems such as massive unemployment municipal electricity failure, and inflation, to mention a few. Poor Buhari. The PDP says he has no “O” level certificate. If he hasn’t, that will pitch him as a semi – illiterate against President Jonathan, who holds a Ph.D. But the attackers of Buhari’s person forgot that Professor Kofi Busia, an economist, couldn’t fix Ghana’s economic troubles, which hurled thousands of Ghana’s women on Nigeria’s prostitution market, and that it was flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings who did, by tackling corruption, and made his country’s economy buoyant again. Now, one after the other, Nigerian blue – chip transnational companies have relocated to Ghana. Now, Nigerian youths are invading Ghana for higher education. Now, many Nigerians who cannot find jobs in their own country, and who cannot afford the rigour of dying in the Morrocan desert on their way to Europe, are finding succour in Ghana.

I do not know why Nigeria’s electoral law prescribe minimum certification for public office holders. But I  suspect the matter of the likes of Barkin Zuwo may have had a hand in it. He was a governor in one of the states in the north. There were so many jokes made of his cognitive deficiencies. One was that when a huge sum of public funds he was suspected to have converted to personal use was found in the Governor’s official residence and he was questioned about it, he expressed surprise that the storage of “government money in government House” was an offence. Another was that when he pressed for the creation of a new state from his state and he was asked which mineral resources” were available in the proposed state to sustain it economically, Barkin Zuwo replied the minerals present there included “coca-cola, fanta and 7-up”.

On a more serious note, the electoral law prescribes certification. But there is confusion about this. Some people interpret it as “O” Level Certificate, which would imply at least five credit passes.