OrderPaperToday- A bill seeking to raise the educational requirement for elective office holders to university degree or its equivalent scaled through second reading on Tuesday, in the House of Representatives.

Titled ‘A Bill for an Act to Review the Qualifications for Certain Political Offices and For Related Matters’ and sponsored by Omowumi Onanuga (Ogun, APC), it stipulates that the qualification of the President, Vice President, Governors and their deputies should be minimum of a university degree. The same is also to apply as requirement for members of the National and State Houses of Assemblies in Nigeria.

Leading debate on the bill, Onanuga explained that the race for political offices in Nigeria have become very fierce and intense due to largely low qualifications for such offices. This is as she noted 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.

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She argued that the new legislation is not targeted at stifling the interest of Nigerians in politics, but to help Nigerians to sufficiently prepare for the humongous task of political leadership.

“I take in no small measure this privilege granted me to present before this hallowed chamber a bill that I believe if assented to will among other things, place more value on education in our nation and its importance when considering politics.

“As we have begun to see, the race for elective offices at both State and national levels have 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,” the lawmaker added.

Describing the political offices affected by this proposed amendment as very strategic in their own right, she stressed that the bill will reflect the premium this 9th Assembly places on the quality of education that interests our youths vis-à-vis their desired political ambition.

She queried the status quo where a Managing Director who holds an equally strategic position in a company within the country, cannot be employed without a university degree or its equivalent, but the above political offices be held by people without a university degree or its equivalent.

“We all know that after a university degree or its equivalent in this country, comes the compulsory National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) without which it would be difficult to get into any employment especially within the Public Sector.

Invariably, by leaving the qualification of this 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,” she continued.

The bill was passed when the presiding officer put the question.

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The present educational qualification for elective positions enshrined in the 1999 Constitution is the School Certificate which include, the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the National Examination Council’s Senior School Certificate Examination (NECO/SSCE).



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