Higher Academic Qualifications For Higher Political Offices In Nigeria

By Ejike John

Should the recommendation of the members of delegates at the national conference on the issue of academic qualification for public office holders be adopted, then politicians vying for the offices of the President, Vice-Presidents, Governors, Deputy Governors, National and State House of Assemblies, and chairmen of local governments will require a minimum of first-degree to contest. While councilors will require a minimum of secondary school certificate to also contest.

This decision is coming as a response to the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended) which allows low academic qualification for these offices. This decision couldn't have come at a better time when the duties of these offices have become more challenging as ever.

The request for a higher academic qualification for political aspirant is an improvement of the constitution which does not state any academic qualification for the offices of the local government chairmen and councilors. Coupled with this, Sections 65 (2) (a), 106 (c) 131 (d), 177 (d) of the Nigerian constitution permits the President, Vice-Presidents, Governors, Deputy Governors, National and State Houses of Assemblies, to have a minimum of Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent before they can occupy the office.

I want to personally commend the National Confab on this recommendation that requires the academic qualification for these posts be raised to a higher standard. So if you want to hold a major post in the Nigerian political strata, then go get a university degree or Secondary School certificate if you want to be a councilor.

This recommendation by the National Confab provides a platform where Nigeria will provide better quality leaders to fill important positions of the government. Thinking about this, better leaders mean that people will better be represented and will have better access to dividends of democracy from all levels of government.

You will agree with me that as a result of poor education, office holders perform below expectation and it also affects their policy decision making. Politicians like these do not have the intellect to craft out quality vision and mission for their offices. Some of them when observed closely have no idea of what government and politics is in the first place. They are only blinded by their greed and desire to acquire and amass wealth and power for themselves.

Poorly-educated leaders are ill-informed and do not have the idea the politics is supposed to be used to offer selfless service to the people that they represent. Every year, hundreds of thousands of graduates are off-loaded into the labour market, we cannot say that among them we can find quality and well-informed people that can lead this country and take her to greater heights. This is the time to look inwards and we will find the right tools for the job that this country desires. There is no state in Nigeria that cannot boast of the man power it requires to fill top government offices and to achieve her aims. The governance of the people is too serious a business to be left in the hands of illiterates and poorly educated people. It is this reason that politician see governance as a do or die affair, we don't have people of right mind and intellects who sees politics as a means to serve. The absence of men of intellect and strong moral fiber in our country's politics is one of the major problems in our country's governance.

It is very appalling to see that even some people that have little or no educational qualification have muzzled their way into top political offices, even when it is clear that they have nothing to offer the people they are representing. The challenges that comes with the 21st century Nigeria, requires that top political offices be filled with men and women of honour, that are exposed and have not been found wanting of learning and character. Men and women of this nature cannot be found outside league of those that have passed through a university or its equivalent.

As stated in the 1999 constitution, the educational benchmark for political office holders will not do well the socio-political development of Nigeria. It does not promote scholarship and knowledge. This country produces thousands of graduates yearly; this is more reason why the bar for the qualification for the offices of high strata needs to be raised if we are to see any meaningful change in the nearest future.

Let us for a moment emulate our counterparts in the western world, their leaders are known intellects and great men of knowledge. The case of Nigeria should be different as obtained in other parts of the world when it comes to educational qualification for public office holders. Governance of this present time is note the same with that of decades ago, this is why it is necessary for well groomed people who are informed in areas of science and technology, law, business, economics, education, health and environment should occupy important posts.

While Nigerians are applauding this recommendation by the National Conference, more light has to be put into the issue of where Higher National Diploma (HND) comes into play when we are saying the equivalent of a first degree. This is to avert future controversies that might arise with the equality of polytechnic and university degrees.

Ejike John Is A Writer, A Blogger
And A Staff Writer For Ejike Info Blog

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."