February 13, (THEWILL) – The House of Representatives has stepped down a Bill seeking to review upward the required educational qualification for some elective offices in the country to a minimum of a University degree or its equivalent.
Sponsored by the Deputy Whip, Omowunmi Onanuga, the constitution alteration Bill was stepped down by the leave of the House after extensive debate on its merits and demerits.
Onanuga, in her lead debate on the general principles of the Bill titled, “A Bill for an Act to Alter the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to change the Educational Qualification for Elections into Certain Political Offices and for Related Matters,” insisted that all the political offices affected by the proposed amendment are very strategic in their own right, calling on the House to look critically into the educational qualification of political office holders.
She explained that state legislators are important for making laws to govern their states in the interest of the people, the office of the governor is the highest political office in the state and federal legislators are important for making laws in the interest of the nation while the office of the president is the highest political office in the land.
The lawmaker argued that if a Managing Director who holds an equally strategic position in a company in the country cannot be employed without a university degree or its equivalent, why should those political offices be held by people without a university degree or its equivalent?
“Mr Speaker, Honourable Colleagues, we all know that after a university degree or its equivalent in this country, comes the compulsory National Youth Service Corp, 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,” Onanuga stated.
Hon. Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos), and House Leader, Prof. Julius Ihonvbare, supported the Bill.
“We all know what the world is today. In a world where knowledge is power, we see leaders of other nations who make excellent presentations, but here we have leaders dodging debate.
“I don’t think this requirement should apply to all political offices, for local government it might not be required but for President and Vice, National Assembly members should be required to own a degree,” Ihonvbare argued.
But, opposing the Bill, the Minority Whip of the House, Aliyu Madaki (NNPP, Kano), Hon. Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno), Chief Whip of the House, Usman Bello Kumo, and Hon. Bashir Usman Gorau (PDP, Sokoto), declared that the bill was against the democratic doctrine of popular participation.