Poor Performance: Setting qualification marks for Nigerian political offices

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It is certainly not out of place that the  subject of deficiencies in the running of governance in Nigeria may not be far fetched from a number of factors among which gross incompetence occasioned by the deficiencies of unqualified hands manning key political positions of authority in the Country.

It would be recalled that a bill recently sponsored to effect amendments to Constitutional provisions guiding the minimum requirements for certain key positions; such as those of the President, Governor and Lawmakers in the Country is undergoing passage processes.

Earlier this month, the bill seeking to make Higher National Diploma (HND) the minimum qualification for anyone aspiring to the office of the President or governor passed the second reading stage at the Senate. The constitution amendment bill, which was sponsored by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party from Plateau State, Senator Isfifanus Gyang, was passed by the Senate to scale second reading. The bill also prescribed National Diploma or its equivalent as the minimum qualification for federal and state lawmakers.

The bill in question seeks to alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the amendment of Sections 65(2)(a), and 131(d). It will also amend Section 106(c) and Section 177(d) on minimum education qualification for those seeking election into the State Assembly, Governor, National Assembly and office of the President. It also seeks the alteration of section 65(2)(a) of the Constitution which deals with the qualifications for intending members of the National Assembly. The current law, which the bill seeks to amend reads, “A person shall be qualified for election under subsection (1) of this section if he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.” Section 65(2)(a) has now been rephrased to read “if he has been educated to at least a National Diploma level or its equivalent.” The bill also seeks the alteration of Section 131(d) which deals with minimum requirements for anyone running for the office of the governor.

The current Section of the Constitution provides that the person must have “been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent”. With the amendment Section 131(d) is now rephrased to read, “He has been educated up to at least HND level or’ its equivalent.” For House of Assembly, the bill seeks the alteration of section 106(c) of the Constitution. According to the existing law, anyone aspiring to be a member of the House of Assembly must have “been educated up to at least the School Certificate level or its equivalent”.

In addition Section 106(c) is now rephrased to read, “If he has been educated up to National diploma level or its equivalent.” The bill seeks the alteration of section 177(d) of the Constitution for governors. As it stands currently, the Section states that the person must have “been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.” With the amendment bill, Section 177(d) is now rephrased to read, “If he has been educated up to at least Higher National Diploma, HND, Level or its equivalent.”

Out-playing gimmicks of Political games in Nigeria, may however portend bones of contention that may make it so difficult to predict at this time if the bill will survive through to see the light of the day. The outplay of politics of patronage and selfish interest may manifest in so many ways to affect the timely and successful passage of the bill.  Hostility against the bill may loom so large in a terrain where a number of high profile political gladiators may be automatically benched aside, should the bill be passed into law. The condition is much more worsened, questioning the fact of considering if such law would be assented to by a President who himself will not have emerged the position, if such law had been existing prior to when he contested the position. In the streaming flow of reactions following the bill, some are of the position that the bill is a political antics targeted strategically to stopping some political gladiators come 2023.

Regardless of the controversies, colouration and connotations that may be attached to bill, it is important to state clearly that it is instructive as an eye opener that the backward level at which the Country currently is, demands that competent hands begin to assume the helms of piloting affairs in the Country at different levels of governance. Reducing the manning of Political offices in Nigeria to incompetent opportunists has inflicted grave consequences and failure on the Country.

It is definitely high time systemic changes were effected to ensure that amendments are made to standards of determining those who are qualified for key political offices in the Country. It is saddening that if for the position of a level eight job,  a minimum degree is  required, then it is an eyesore that the Constitution guiding the Country provides for a minimum of Secondary School Certificate for the office of a whole President of a Country of over 180 million people.

It is instructive to state that many of the provisions of the military crafted 1999 Constitution are archaic and do not suit the demands of present conditions. The ill drafted provisions of the Constitution are mostly outdated; which calls for advanced amendments. If the Country will begin to experience any ray of developmental light, it is essential that processes towards these amendments are effected on large scale with prompt approach. Therefore, it is no where out of place to state that the minimum education amendment bill is a fruitful move, key towards rebuilding the future of Nigeria.