The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may disqualify 43 candidates for failing to meet the minimum age requirements specified in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) for candidates seeking elective offices.
The breakdown of the figure includes one presidential and three vice presidential candidates, as well as 14 senatorial and 25 House of Representatives candidates. Also, the candidacy of 102 others is being threatened for “undefined” identity.
They include 23 senatorial and 79 House of Representatives candidates. INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, in the presentation he made at the Council of State meeting on Tuesday, said one of the 72 presidential candidates is less than 35 years of age, which is the minimum age allowed by the constitution. According to Yakubu, three of the vice presidential candidates are less than 35 years while 14 senatorial and 25 House of Representatives candidates are less than 30 and 25 respectively, which is the minimum age recommended by the constitution for occupants of the positions.
He told the Council of State made up of the President, Vice President, past presidents, present and past Chief Justices of Nigeria (CJNs), Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and all state governors, that 17 presidential candidates are within the age bracket of between 35 and 45 years, while 27 are between 46 and 55 years, and 20 between 56 and 65 years. Seven candidates are above 65 years. For the vice presidential candidates, the INEC Chairman said 34 are between the age of 35 and 45; 19 between 46 and 55; 14 between 56 and 65, and two above 65 years. The INEC chairman also disclosed that 621 senatorial candidates are between 30 and 40 years, 527 between 41 and 50 while 497 are between 51 and 60.
He added that 222 are above 60 years old. He added that 1, 262 House of Representatives candidates are between 25 and 35 years; 1,603 between 36 and 45 years; 1, 524 between 46 and 60 years while 187 candidates are above 60 years of age. Yakubu told the Council that: “The 2019 general elections will be the largest single- day peacetime logistics and security undertaking by the commission since 1999 with 84 million voters, 91 political parties, 23,213 candidates vying for 1,558 positions involving over 814,000 electoral officers.
“INEC is fully aware of the enormity of conducting the 2019 general elections and will spare no effort safeguarding the integrity and credibility of our elections and consolidation of our democracy.” Meanwhile, 11 school certificate holders are in the race against others with higher qualifications, for the nation’s number job, the presidency. INEC has cleared 72 candidates for the presidential election, which is fixed for February 16. Out of this number, 11 candidates said they have West African School Certificate (WASC) as their basic qualification.
Chapter VI (139)(a-d) of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution (as amended) says “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of President if: – (a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; (b) he has attained the age of 35 years; (c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that party; and (d) he has been educated up to and possesses a minimum of Senior Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent.” Aside Dr. Alex Ekweme (Vice President, 1979-1983), Ernest Shonekan (Interim Head of State, 1993), Goodluck Jonathan (President, 2010-2015) and Oluyemi Osinbajo (Vice President, 2015-2019), no other leader had a degree whilst in office.
According to the list released by the commission, 14 presidential candidates are PhD holders in various fields while 12 others have second degree, including in law, business administration and in other disciplines.
The rest are first degree, diploma and Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE) holders. One candidate, Obinna Uchechukwu Ikeagwu, presented First School Leaving Certificate (FLSC). Information gathered by New Telegraph revealed that apart from the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari whose WAEC certificate had generated some controversies, Omoyele Sowore, the presidential candidate of African Action Congress (AAC), presented WAEC certificate. Sowore, publisher of online Newspaper, Sahara Reporters, was expelled twice from the University of Lagos (UNILAG) for student activism.
He studied Geography and Regional Planning between 1989 and 1995. The All Grand Alliance Party (AGAP) candidate, Chief Godwin Umenwa presented Senior School Certificate to INEC, so also Shipi Moses Godia, the presidential candidate of All Blending Party (ABP). Others candidates who presented WAEC are Abdulrashid Hassan Baba, Action Alliance (AA); Aba Lewis Elaigwu, Change Advocacy Party (CAP); Edozie Madu of Independent Democrat (ID); Chukwu-Eguzolugo of Justice Must Prevail Party (JMPP); Bashayi Isa Dansaraki of Mass Movement of Nigeria (MMN). Ahmed Buhari of the SMP is also among the lots. Former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to late General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Mustafa who is the presidential candidate of Peoples Party of Nigeria (PPN) presented Senior Secondary Certificate (SSCE) to INEC.
On the other hand, former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, the presidential candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) and former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Obadiah Mailafia who is the presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), are among the PhD holders in the race.
Others are former Chaplain of Aso Rock Chapel, Yusuf Obaje of Advanced Nigeria Democratic Party (ANDP), Ibrahim Hassan of African Peoples Alliance (APA), Isibor Akhimen of GDPN, Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressives Party (YPP) and Kriz David of Liberation Movement (LM). In the INEC list, three candidates – Muhammadu Buhari of APC, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Gbor John Wilson of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), are the oldest presidential candidates in the race. They are 70 years and above. Nsche Nseobong of Restoration Party of Nigeria (RP) is the youngest presidential candidate.