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Reps step down bill to alter educational qualifications for President

Reps step down bill to alter educational qualifications for President

The House of Representatives on Tuesday stepped down a bill seeking to alter the minimum educational qualification for the offices of President and Vice-President from primary school certificate to a university degree.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Adewunmi Onanuga (APC-Ogun) at plenary. Presenting the general principles of the bill, Onanuga called on the House to look at the educational qualifications of political office holders.

She said that Nigeria had passed the age of using school leaving certificate as the minimum requirement for political office.

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She added that a university degree or its equivalent should be made the minimum qualification.

Rep. Babajimi Benson (APC-Ogun) supported the bill.

“I can’t believe that in this modern age, some people will say, don’t go to school, yet go and be president,” he said.

Rep. Julius Ihonvbare (APC-Edo) also spoke in favour of the bill.
“We are 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 the President and Vice National Assembly, members should be required to own a degree,” he said.

Rep. Leke Abejide (ADC-Kogi) said the world had moved and Nigeria should not be left behind.
“If we put a mediocre to head an important political office, we will end up in disaster.”

Rep. Alfred Iliah (APC-Jos) said educational qualification remained very important and the bedrock of every society.

“The qualifications of every National Assembly member should be looked into if the country must make progress,” he said.

Rep. Mustapha Aliyu (APC-Sokoto) said the bill was long overdue, adding that education was the bedrock of the development of the society.

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“For those contesting for executive seats, they should have a degree; however, the jump from school leaving leavingto a degree is too wide. I will propose that there should be a middle course.”

Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers) also endorsed the bill, lamenting the decline in standard of education.

He reiterated the importance of backing the bill wholeheartedly, saying why do we say a primary school holder should be given. We should do the right.

Malam Aliyu Madaki(NNPP-Kano) however, offered a different perspective, saying the leadership quality of a political office holder should not be determined by his level of education.

“I have an MBA in Financial Management, but restricting others with qualifications will not carry all Nigerians along. All Nigerians should be allowed to participate and exercise their leadership qualities,” he said.

Rep. Bashir Sokoto (APC- Sokoto) also opposed the bill.
“We were privileged to go to university, but we have fewer privileges Nigerians who can not afford to go to the university.

“I propose that we allow the minimum requirement for political office holders to remain school-carried.”

Rep. Ahmed Jaha (APC-Borno) said passing the bill would negatively affect some sections of the country.

“Qualification alone is not a true taste of knowledge. We are making laws for good governance and peace in this country. We will not pass laws that will favour only a small number of Nigerians.

“How many Nigerians are degree holders? The America that we refer to has done greatly in educating its citizens’, but here in Nigeria, what have we done in improving our education system.”

The Deputy Speaker of the House, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, who presided over plenary stepped down the bill after a heated debate.