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Senate Motion for a Bill Prohibiting Public Officials from Training Their Children Overseas

By Daniel Elombah
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Sponsored by Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed

The senate;
Notes that the standard of education in public schools in Nigeria has continued to fall despite huge government investments in the sector and this places the products of public schools in Nigeria at a serious disadvantage compared to their counterparts who attended schools abroad;

Recalls that in the past, products of Nigerian public schools were rated at par with products of Ivy League schools in the United States and Grade 'A' institutions in the United Kingdom, which led to exchange programmes between Nigerian institutions and their foreign counterparts, but today our products are clearly inferior;

Embarrassed that a United Nations Development Report recently put parts of Nigeria as the world's highest concentration of illiterate populations;

Further notes that Goal No2 of Millennium Development Goals, which is basic education for all by 2015, can only be met if all public servants and elected officials demonstrate confidence and are totally committed to revamping public schools in Nigeria;

Mindful of the fact that it is a fundamental policy of education in Nigeria that all Nigerians must have access to equivalent education comprehensively and co-educationally, which means that no Nigerian should be exposed to an education that is sub-standard in intent and content;

Concerned that the employers of labour both in the public and private sectors have started discriminating against certificates obtained from Nigerian institutions in favour of certificates obtained from institutions abroad;

Further concerned that the desire of public officials to train their children overseas is a major source of capital flight and brain drain, and this has adversely affected the Nigerian economy; for example, The Guardian of the UK report published January 11, 2010, collaborated by the British Council, puts the figures of Nigerians in tertiary institutions in United Kingdom alone at 22,190, and the remittances from Nigeria at N328 billion as at January 2010; while the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria puts the figure of Nigerians in Ghanaian institutions at 71,000 and their remittances at N155 Billion;

Deeply worried that the figures for both the Nigerian students and their remittances are only increasing to the detriment of the nation's educational system and economy, and a huge chunk of these students are being sponsored by present and past public officials who are either elected or appointed;

Further worried that adding the figures of students and their remittances for Nigerians in the United States, Canada and other parts of the world, it is beyond question that the Nigerian educational system would be much better off if the billions of Naira that is remitted from Nigeria annually to cater for Nigerian students abroad had been spent, efficiently, in Nigerian institutions;

Believing that unless Nigerian public officials directly identify with Nigerian schools by training their children in them, this unfortunate trend will continue;

Without prejudice to public officials whose children and wards are already abroad by the time of their appointment or election and public officials whose children and wards have won full scholarships to train abroad;

Without prejudice to public officials whose children are to train in areas or professions not offered in any Nigerian institution and officials whose children and wards are to train for specialization at postgraduate levels;

Without prejudice to public officials who may feel that such a policy may infringe on their fundamental human rights;

The Senate Accordingly Resolved:
To demand from the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to make it part of its official code of conduct that appointed officials shall not send their children abroad for education for courses offered in Nigerian institutions, except for specialization at postgraduate levels;

To demand from the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where made optional, that a special tax be paid by public officials who wish to send their children overseas, to support public education in Nigeria; as exemplified in the one child policy of China, which makes it mandatory for any Chinese desirous of having more than one child to pay special tax to the government;

To direct the Joint Committee on further alteration of the 1999 Constitution to make it an offence for an elected or appointed official in Nigeria to send his child (ren) and wards abroad for training in areas offered in Nigerian institutions, except for specialization at postgraduate levels without paying the special education tax and declaring the source of funding.

Daniel Elombah
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