The need for a review in the minimum educational qualification for persons aspiring to be future presidents of Nigeria has been highlighted by none other a person than the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who canvassed this position last Monday while delivering the 52nd Convocation Lecture at the University of Lagos titled: ‘Building Back Better: Creating a New Framework for Tertiary Education in Nigeria in the 21st Century.’
The Speaker argued that since the age for the eligibility to contest political offices had been reduced, it was necessary to effect an upward review of the academic requirement so as to help reform the electoral system and provide strong leadership for the nation.
Mr Gbajabiamila’s suggestion has resonated with those of other well-meaning Nigerians who had, at different times, thrown their weight behind the upping of the academic requirement for aspirants to the post of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces as well as other political offices.
New Telegraph extends kudos to the presiding officer of the Lower Legislative chamber and others in support of the adoption of higher academic requirements for those seeking to occupy the presidency and other elective offices.
The present academic requirement, which is a mere evidence of secondary education, makes a mockery of the national pretensions that the occupant of the position of the President and Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces and other political office-holders, are usually products of merit-driven process.
This regrettably connotes that aspirants to the presidency and other political positions do not need to have completed their secondary education let alone possessing a school certificate.
Such a system deepens and nourishes mediocrity since the presidency and other political positions could be grabbed with an entry as low as evidence of secondary education, which could be a register containing names of students of an institution.
Given Nigeria’s general poor handling of education despite its sensitive nature and worsened by the classification of some component units as educationallyretrogressive states, some products of secondary education will expectedly run hollow campaigns, devoid of participation in debates and wellauthored manifestoes clearly spelling out policies and programmes, how to achieve them and within specific timelines.
Such contenders see politics as an investment and unwilling to walk the path of lawful and decorous behaviour in their quest for power.
Unlawful political behaviour, as illustrated by ballotsnatching, multiple voting arson, thuggery, assault and violence, becomes their major pre-occupation in order to savour undeserving victories. Such individuals lack the innovative capacity to produce transformative leadership either as President or other political officeholders.
In the end, such ill-equipped political office-holders surround themselves with an army of aides, at huge public expense thereby reducing governance to a non-intellectual exercise while increasing the cost of governance.
It is with pain in our hearts that we state unequivocally that this is the nauseating experience of Nigerians, all in the name of democracy, since the birth of the Fourth Republic on May 29, 1999.
This is why sustainable development may remain far for Africa’s most populous nation, as she has woefully failed to evolve merit-driven leadership recruitment.
Regrettably, the Ninth National Assembly, which Mr. Gbajabiamila is its Deputy Chairman, by virtue of being the Speaker of the House of Representatives, is in the estimation of men and women of conscience the opposite of what a Parliament should be. It appears not to be sensitive enough to the consequences of having political office-holders of suspect intellectual grounding.
Except for a few lawmakers, who always strive hard to reflect the public mood in their legislative duties, the rest of the parliamentarians merely see themselves as an extension of the Executive Branch of Government and refrain from acting in any manner that will help elicit overwhelming public displeasure to poor performances in the handling of critical subjects like insecurity and recurring strike in the nation’s educational and health institutions.
With only about 17 months left for both the National Assembly and the Executive Arm of Government to render accounts of their stewardship to the people, much may not come from the duo, regarding the perceived close political intrigues that dot their activities.
The National Assembly and the Executive branch may not want to hurt some of their members who are beneficiaries of the low educational qualification for those aspiring to political offices.
New Telegraph enjoins relevant professional, civil society and other pressure groups to spearhead the review of the educational qualification for individuals aspiring for the post of the President and other political offices to demonstrable possession of minimum academic requirements such as the National Certificate in Education (NCE), Higher National Diploma (HND) and Bachelor of Arts (BA)/Bachelor of Science (BSc) honours degrees.
This should be accompanied by equally a record of successful involvement in community service, or small, medium or large scale entrepreneurship, meritorious service period in either the private or public sector or glorious pursuit of a profession or vocation.
They should engage the different stakeholders in order to compel the National Assembly to pass a law raising the academic requirement for persons eyeing political offices.
Security agencies, including the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) should be responsible and responsive enough to respect people’s right to peaceful assembly and refrain from hiding under the alibi of unfounded threat to public peace to disperse the congregants thereby putting an obstacle to an effort likely to translate into a positive outcome and better merit-oriented leadership recruitment for Nigeria