Bill on Degree Qualifications for Political Positions Opposed by Northern Lawmakers

by Ohepo Ohepo

House of Representatives Pauses Bill on Higher Educational Qualifications for Political Positions

The House of Representatives has recently decided to pause deliberations on a bill aimed at amending the 1999 Constitution to modify the educational requirements for candidates aspiring to governorship, presidency, and other key elected roles within Nigeria. The bill, introduced by Representative Adewunmi Onanuga, proposed setting the minimum educational qualification at a bachelor’s degree level or its equivalent.

Representing the Ikenne/Salami/Remo North federal constituency of Ogun, Ms. Onanuga argued during a plenary session that candidates for the nation’s highest offices should possess at least a university degree, a significant step up from the current criterion which allows individuals with a First School Leaving Certificate to run for such positions.

While the bill garnered support from House Leader Julius Ihonvbere, Babajimi Benson, Kingsley Chinda, among other legislators, it faced resistance from members like Aliyu Madaki of Kano and Ahmadu Jaha of APC from Borno, leading to a diverse range of opinions on the matter.

Following some opposition, Ms. Onanuga opted to withdraw the bill temporarily, planning to engage in further dialogue with her colleagues to gain more support before reintroducing it. She highlighted the importance of extensive lobbying to ensure the bill receives the backing it needs to pass in future sessions.

This legislative effort comes in the backdrop of controversies surrounding the academic credentials of some of Nigeria’s top politicians, including President Bola Tinubu, who faced allegations of certificate forgery that were scrutinized by the Supreme Court of Nigeria and involved legal challenges in the United States, and his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, who was accused of lacking the basic academic qualifications for the 2015 presidential election.

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