The popular human rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has reacted to the claim by the All Progressives Congress(APC) that the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, is a Cameroonian. The APC had claimed in its response to Atiku’s petition filed at the Presidential Elections Tribunal that the PDP presidential candidate is not a Nigerian and therefore not qualified to run for the apex office. However, Falana, according to Nigerian Tribune, picked hole in the claim by the APC saying the ruling party was not sincere in its claim.
The prominent lawyer said if the APC was sincere in such claim, it shouldn’t have celebrated that it defeated Atiku in his base in Adamawa during the election. “Because the implication of such celebration is to say that the Cameroonians were the ones who voted for you,” he said. Falana reportedly said this at a public presentation of “Minority Report and Draft Constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1976” which was held at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka, on Tuesday.
He was the reviewer of the 43-year-old and 107-page report which is co-authored by the two prominent social critics, Dr Olusegun Osoba and Late Yusufu Bala Usman and published by the Centre for Democratic Development Research and Training, Zaria. The human rights lawyer lamented that the Obasanjo administration as a military head of state(1976-1979) refused to accept the Minority Report now being launched 43 years after, adding that the report of the majority was decreed into the 1979 Constitution, the basic content of which has formed the nucleus of the subsequent constitutions including the Decree 24 of 1999 otherwise called the 1999 Constitution.
He said Nigeria could possibly have avoided the current obstacles to genuine democracy and sustainable human development if some of the questions posed and the answers provided by Osoba and Usman in their unambiguously progressive report and draft of 1976 had been considered. Giving examples, he said the “Not Too Young to Run campaign” is not a new thing in Nigeria as the Minority Report had recommended 30 years old for those contesting for presidency and governorship offices 43 years ago.
Meanwhile, Atiku has also reacted to the claim saying although he was born in present day Adamawa state, his father originally hailed from Sokoto. Atiku gave this explanation through his lawyer to the election tribunal. In his response, Atiku insisted he was Nigerian by birth claiming his father, “Garba Atiku Abdulkadir was a Nigerian by birth who hailed from Wurmo in present day Sokoto state while the mother, Aisha Kande was also a Nigerian who hailed from Dutse in present day Jigawa state.”