The House of Representatives has passed for second reading, a bill seeking to raise the academic qualification for the seat of President of Nigeria, governor of a state and other elective public offices to university degree or its equivalent.
If passed, the bill would essentially bar former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and some other prominent politicians angling to clinch the presidency from doing so in 2023.
The bill, sponsored by the lawmaker representing Ikenne/Sagamu/Remo North Federal Constituency in Ogun State, Hon Adewunmi Onanuga, is seeking to amend the 1999 Constitution and raise the qualification from school certificate to degree or its equivalent.
The legislation, which passed first reading on Tuesday last week, and second reading, yesterday, is titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Cap. C23 Laws of the Federation 2004, to Review the Required Educational Qualification for Election into Certain Political Offices; and for Related Matters.’
The explanatory memorandum on the legislation reads, ‘This bill seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Cap. C23 Laws of the Federation 2004, to review the required educational qualification for election into certain political offices.’
The bill seeks to specifically alter Sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the Constitution.
Leading the debate on the bill, yesterday, Onanuga stated her belief that the proposal, if it becomes law, would “among other things, place more value on education in our nation and its importance when considering politics.”
The sponsor said, “This is not a bill targeted at stifling the interest of Nigerians in politics, rather it is a bill that will help Nigerians to sufficiently prepare for the humongous task of political leadership.
“As we have begun to see, the race for elective offices at the state and national levels has become increasingly competitive. While this is good as a tenet of universal suffrage, it can also be counterproductive if people who are not sufficiently prepared educationally get into these elective offices.
“All the political offices affected by this amendment are very strategic in their own right. The state legislators are important for making laws to govern the state in the interest of the people. The office of the governor is the highest political office in the state. The federal legislators are important for making laws in the interest of the nation. The office of the president is the highest political office in the land.
“If a managing director who holds an equally strategic position in a company within this country cannot be employed without a university degree or its equivalent, why should the above political offices be held by people without a university degree or its equivalent?”
Onanuga added, “We all know that after a university degree or its equivalent in this country, comes the compulsory National Youth Service Corps, without which it would be difficult to get into any employment especially within the public sector.
“Invariably, by leaving the qualification of these political offices to remain at School Certificate level, we are implying that the NYSC is not a requirement to hold political offices but it is a requirement to secure a job in the public sector.
“This bill will reflect the premium this 9th Assembly places on the quality of education that interests our youths vis-à-vis their desired political ambitions; and it will in turn affect the quality of candidates who run for elective offices in this country.
“Otherwise, how do we place value on education if I say to my son who wants to be a doctor that he needs a university degree or its equivalent to achieve his dream and then say to my daughter who wants to be president someday that she only needs to have a School Certificate?”
The sponsor stressed that studying up to a university degree anywhere in the world would have afforded any individual certain other knowledge, skills and preparedness that cannot be gotten at a School Certificate level.
“This is not saying that only those with a university degree can lead well; all we will be saying is that we will rather start from there. And I believe we can all agree that a university degree is a good place to benchmark the educational qualification into certain political offices. To agree otherwise will in the long run do our polity and youths a great disservice.
“The bill, therefore, proposes to review upward to a minimum of university degree, the required educational qualification of some elective offices within the country,” she noted.
Before Onanuga began the presentation, the Deputy Speaker, Hon Ahmed Wase, who presided over the session, had remarked that, “Members will like to hear what you are proposing in the amendment. It is very sensitive; I believe so.”
After Onanuga made her presentation, Wase noted that the intent of the bill was clear, and he put its passage for second reading to voice vote, and it was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers.
World Bank To Fund $30bn Projects In Nigeria, Others
The World Bank has said it is set to disburse a total of $30billion to fund existing and new projects in Nigeria and other countries as part of a global response to combat the ongoing food security crisis.
According to the bank, it is working with countries on a $12billion new projects fund for the next 15 months.
It said the projects are expected to support agriculture, social protection to cushion the effects of higher food prices, and water and irrigation projects.
It added that most of the funds would go to Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia.
The global bank disclosed this when it announced how it plans to be part of a comprehensive, global response to the ongoing food security crisis.
It stated that it intends to roll out this fund in existing and new projects in agriculture, nutrition, social protection, water, and irrigation.
It said, “This financing will include efforts to encourage food and fertiliser production, enhance food systems, facilitate greater trade, and support vulnerable households and producers.”
World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said, “Food price increases are having devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable.
“To inform and stabilise markets, it is critical that countries make clear statements now of future output increases in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Countries should make concerted efforts to increase the supply of energy and fertilizer, help farmers increase plantings and crop yields, and remove policies that block exports and imports, divert food to biofuel, or encourage unnecessary storage.”
The bank added that its current existing portfolio includes balances of $18.7billion in projects with direct links to food and nutrition security issues, covering agriculture and natural resources, nutrition, social protection, and other sectors.
It stated, “Altogether, this would amount to over $30billion available for implementation to address food insecurity over the next 15 months. This response will draw on the full range of Bank financing instruments and be complemented by analytical work.”
FG Postpones FAAC Meeting Over AGF’s N80bn Probe
The Federal Government has announced the postponement of May, 2022 Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting.
The sudden postponement may not be unconnected with the ongoing investigation of the suspended Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over alleged fraud to the tune of N80billion.
The FAAC meeting is a monthly meeting where the federation allocates monthly revenue among the three tiers of government.
The meeting had earlier been scheduled to hold virtually between May 18 and 19, 2022.
The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said this in a letter signed by Director, Home Finance,Stephen Okon.
The ministry said the meeting was postponed due to “certain circumstances.
“I am directed to inform you that the Federation Account/Allocation Committee (FAAC) meetings earlier scheduled to hold/virtually on the 18th and 19th May, 2022 have been postponed due to/certain circumstances,” the circular reads.
“In view of the foregoing, I am to further inform you that the new date for the meetings will be forwarded to you in due course.
“While we regret the inconveniences this change might cause you, please accept the assurances of the Minister’s warm regards,” the letter read in part.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had on Monday arrested and detained Idris over an alleged N80billion fraud.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, announced indefinite suspension of Idris, last Wednesday.
Ahmed said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.
Nigerian Out-Of-School Children Hit 18.5m
Nigeria has 18.5million out-of-school children (OSC), the highest number in the world, and out of the figure, 10million are girls, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The Chief of UNICEF Field Office in Kano, Rahama Farah, stated this at a media dialogue on ‘Girls’ Education under the Girls’ Education Project 3, GEP 3’, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and implemented by UNICEF.
“For those lucky to be in school, their condition is also not enviable given the situation of public schools in the country. Only recently, the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), said 50per cent of schools in Nigeria lack basic furniture”Farah said.
The Executive Secretary of the commission, Hamid Bobboyi, said this in Abuja at a one-day civil society organisations’ CSO-Legislative Roundtable Meeting where some National and State Houses of Assembly members were present.
According to him, emerging constraints in basic education delivery in the country may necessitate an increase in the consolidated revenue funds from the current two per cent to four per cent.
He buttressed his position for an increase in funding on the security challenges bedevilling the country, insisting that rising student population also poses urgent need for teaching facilities.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Basic Education, represented by Senator Frank Ibezim, decried the failure of State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs), to sustain some UBEC-initiated projects such as classrooms and libraries earlier introduced by the commission in all constituencies in the country.
While commending UBEC over the construction of classrooms in schools across the country, he lamented the poor maintenance culture, noting that there is no school in the country that does not have a dilapidated block.
A representative of MacArthur Foundation, Mr Dayo Olaoye, called on stakeholders to review the impact of the country’s annual budget on education, stressing that it was not enough that the country is increasing its budget to the sector.
“As we think about reforms, let us think beyond buildings that have been delivered, let us start thinking about how many children have been brought to school,” he said.
“If classrooms are dilapidated, and there are not enough furniture, what about teachers and the quality of the ones available? The Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said there are over 300,000 unqualified teachers in the system.
“Education is very important to be left in the hands of quacks and that is why at TRCN, we are stepping up efforts at ridding the system of unqualified hands. We implore teachers and their employers to take advantage of the various windows TRCN is providing to improve the quality of teachers in the country so as to get better results from our education system,” he said.
For the General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr Mike Ene, there is need for better funding of the education sector.
He noted that in many states, teachers are overwhelmed by the number of pupils and students they handle.
“In so many states, there is inadequacy of teachers. Some states have not recruited teachers in the last 10 years and yearly, teachers are leaving the system through retirement, resignation or even death. Worse hit by poor staffing are schools in the rural areas. Such schools are called hard-to-staff schools.”
It is in that regard that the welfare packages announced by the Federal Government are very much necessary,” he said.
Also speaking on the issue, the National President of the National Association of Parent-Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), Alhaji Haruna Danjuma, decried the manner some state governments are implementing the Basic Education Policy of the government whereby pupils and students in primary and junior secondary schools are to enjoy free education and are given textbooks in some core subjects.
“Some states are not doing well in that respect. They have abandoned the programme. They are not funding education as it ought to be funded. Even counterpart funds that some states should put down to complement the funds from UBEC are not provided. Some states have even misused UBEC funds and are suspended from getting further grants.
“We are talking now about our tertiary institutions that are grounded by workers’ strikes, the basic education level, which is the foundation, is not faring better too. Something urgent must be done to redress the situation before the sector collapses finally,” he noted.
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