FULL LIST: Qualification For Each Of The Political Offices Revealed
Information reaching Ibom Focus says that Qualification For Each Of The Political Offices Revealed
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, struck a chord when he called for an upward review of the minimum educational qualification for persons aspiring to be president and other top political offices. He argued that since the age of eligibility to contest for those offices has been reduced, the minimum educational requirement needed to be increased.
Already, a legislative process is in motion for this purpose. A bill seeking to increase the minimum educational qualification for the President and other elective offices has passed the second reading at the lower House.
Representative Adewunmi Onanuga (APC, Ogun), sponsor of the bill, indicated that it will require the amendment of the 1999 Constitution especially sections 65,106,131 and 171. Presently, that supreme law has provision for West African School Certificate (WASC) as the minimum requirement. The bill intends to raise it to university degree or its equivalent
Leading the debate on the bill, Onanuga also said that the school certificate is not sufficient qualification for anyone aspiring to be part of such high-profile government offices. According to her, it was curious that to qualify for employment as senior cadres in Nigerian civil service, an applicant must be a holder of degree certificate, its equivalent in addition to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate. Similar condition applies in the private sector.
In the considered opinion of this newspaper, this is a right step in the right direction and our reason is not far to seek. Governance at any level is an intricate process that requires minds that are articulate, capable of grasping the intricacies of policies and structures as well as being able to analyse them logically to arrive at conclusions that aid the development of the nation. Bearing this in mind, school certificate holders, no matter how naturally brilliant, must have their limitations. It is instructive to note that the criteria for becoming the president of Nigeria is well laid out in the 1999 constitution as amended in 2018.
The conditions are that one must be: a citizen of Nigeria by birth; have attained the age of 35 years; be a member of a political party, sponsored by that political party; have been educated up to at least West African School Certificate level or its equivalent. The framers of the constitution are sufficiently clever. The operative word there is “at least” which means they had expected that candidates must not limit themselves to that basic condition.
Sadly, politicians, characteristically, are understandably lazy on such matters being good at taking the easy way out. They are even stretching it beyond commonsense by imputing that just an attempt at WAEC is enough qualification to be governor or President in Nigeria. For a country that boasts of over 200 universities, both public and private, this is unacceptable.
The argument has always been that it takes more than educational qualification to succeed as a governor or president. They also insist that apart from educational qualifications, a political office holder needs to have the capacity, emotional intelligence, empathy, vision, integrity, character, and the courage to make popular decisions to succeed. Assuming without conceding that this is correct, we make bold to say that an intelligent mind without education is akin to a silver in the mine.
According to 2017 data from the Migration Policy Institute, in the United States of America (USA), Nigerians are the most highly educated of all groups, with 61 percent holding at least a bachelor’s degree compared with 31 percent of the total foreign-born population and 32 percent of the US-born population. Not to mention the millions at home. Yet, the country prefers to rely on the half-educated class when it comes to choosing her leaders.
In the United States of America where the country modelled her system of democracy, every president since 1953 has had a bachelor’s degree, reflecting the increasing importance of higher education in the United States. As of April 2021, a total of 28 British Prime Ministers have been educated at the University of Oxford, one of the best universities in the world.
It is imperative, even urgent that the nation needs to raise the intellectual bar for politicians in the country. Governance is a serious business and only the best should steer the ship of the country both at the state and federal levels.
It is also cogent to point out that a not-too-sufficiently educated leader will have issues following debates in the gathering of world leaders, making the resort to aides an embarrassing lifeline. Nigeria, as a country, is too important to be locked down in this quagmire of mediocrity. Therefore, the lawmakers have the vote of this newspaper as they tinker with that constitutional provision.
In view of the foregoing, we call on the House of Representatives to speed up the passage of the bill and the Senate should do the same. We strongly suggest that the minimum educational qualifications should be a university degree or its equivalent. This is the way to go.