Reps were divided as a bill to jerk up the qualification of candidates for political offices came up for debate and was eventually stepped down
The House of Representatives, on Tuesday, stepped down a controversial Bill seeking to amend the Constitution to change the educational qualification for persons vying for political offices after a protracted debate on the floor of the House.
The Reps were divided along regional and religious lines as they engaged in a heated debate during the consideration of the Bill.
The piece of legislation slated for second reading is 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” and was sponsored by Rep. Adewunmi Oriyomi Onanuga (APC, Ogun).
Rep. Ahmed Jaha (APC, Borno) speaking against the Bill noted that if the changes are effected, Nigerians will be disenfranchised. “If people are not educated who is to blame? Today, if we do this, we are disenfranchising ourselves. Whether we like it or not we are not going to make laws that will favor a few Nigerians. So I oppose this Bill with all my heart and I call on all Nigerians to oppose this Bill.”
Also contributing to the matter, Rep. Kabiru Mai’palace (PDP, Zamfara) stated: “In my place, we memorise only the Quran, you can not call someone who memorises the Quran to recite the Bible. This does not mean, people who memorise Quran can not hold political office.”
Another lawmaker from Kano, Rep. Aliyu Madaki (NNPP) who also opposed the Bill noted that “Leadership quality is not determined by any educational qualification” adding that “the level of education is equivalent to office engagement. Let everyone be allowed to contest. Let everyone be given the opportunity to contest”
While speaking in support of the Bill, Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), Minority Leader said, “Wisdom and knowledge are very key. Educational qualifications will encourage children to go to school. The bill should be supported at this level after second reading.”
Another lawmaker, Rep.Mustafa Aliyu (Kaduna, APC) who spoke in support of the Bill said “Education qualification is the bedrock for development in any society and it strengthens our leadership performance.”
Earlier, Rep. Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos) said, “It is the right way to go. In this modern age, that some lawmakers will oppose such a Bill, it is ridiculous to think that way.”
In his contribution, the Leader of the House, Rep. Julius Ihonvebere (APC, Edo) said education is a veritable tool for success. “The world is ruled by what you are and what you know, so education qualification is very important.”
In a twist of events, Reps from the North were seen jubilating as they immediately walked out of the chamber in their numbers after the Bill was stepped down.
This debate confirms the predictions by OrderPaper in its Legislative Intelligence Forcast Entry (LIFE) article for the week. Find the article here.