OrderPaperToday- A Bill for an Act to regulate International studies for wards and children of Nigerian public office holders has failed to scale second reading in the House of Representatives.

The legislation is titled, ‘Bill for an Act to Regulate International Studies for Wards and Children of Nigerian Public Officers, to Strengthen Indigenous Institutions, Provide Efficient Educational Services for National Development; and for Related Matters (HB. 448).’

Presenting the bill during plenary on Thursday, Sergius Ogun (Edo, PDP) lamented that “About 75,000 Nigerians are said to be studying in Ghana, paying over 1 billion US dollars annually for tuition fees and upkeep.”

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Ogun further decried the data that Nigerians lose between N160 billion and N80 billion to international studies annually in Ghana and United Kingdom respectively.

“For me, this would yield a counter-product result in our drive for national development. I believe that public officers should be subjected to the utility of the public institutions which they are responsible for building and maintaining. 

“Apart from the fact that a public officer who doesn’t utilise public institutions will be indifferent about their wellbeing, there is also the worry that so much of our resources are being expended in foreign institutions.

For instance, reports shows that Ghana alone, gets 160 billion naira of Nigerian students’ funds, while the United Kingdom gets 80 billion naira, from Nigerian students.

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Most of these Nigerian foreign students are children/ward of public servants and political office holders who ostensibly cart away public funds to a private use. It is against this background that this bill is designed to; regulate this practice and position our educational system for global competitiveness,” he said.

He added that the bill is proposed against the background of fallen standards in our educational system and the need to bring the sector up to speed with global best standards.

“Unfortunately, as a result of the inability of government to provide quality education in its public educational institutions, Nigerians have resorted to private schools and foreign schools for their education.

The United Kingdom, United States of America, Ukraine, Ghana, Malaysia, Egypt and South Africa, just to mention a few, have become choice destinations for Nigerians in search of quality education. 

The trouble with this is that most of those who patronise privately-owned educational institutions or those who travel abroad to study are children and wards of Nigerian public officers. These are the officers who should take responsibility for the building of our public institutions.” 

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Speaking on the bill, Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) said the bill make it seem as though all public officers who send their wards to school abroad are corrupt.

“I agree with the spirit of the bill which essentially calling on public officers to be responsive and responsible.

My challenge essentially is within the realm that makes it look like all public officers that have their children oversees are corrupt and are doing so by assessing public funds,” he argued.

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“We have sent a number of our public officers to other jurisdiction as public servant. We have ambassadors, we have people who are in the Diplomatic Corps, who ordinarily in the course of their duty would be ocassioned to have their children school oversees.

Secondly, is it likely that children schooling overseas is the reason why our educational institutions are not working effectively.

We must make a distinction between hiring competent people who should man offices, who is responsible based on knowledge as against legislating for things that may not cure the problem,” the lawmaker added.

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Meanwhile, the bill as presented by Ogun has eleven clauses.

Clause One: Objectives of the Bill.

Clause Two: Upgrading of Public Schools in Nigeria.

Clause Three: Sensitisation of Public Officers.

Clause Four: Application for International Studies leave.

Clause Five: Declaration of means by the Public Officer.

Clause Six: Documents to accommodate the Application for Leave.

Clause Seven: Verification of the Declaration made.

Clause Eight: How the applicant is to be informed of the decision taken in respect of his/her application.

Clause Nine: Offences and Penalties under the Bill.

Clause Ten: Interpretation and

Clause Eleven: Citation 

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