Gbaja: We must increase the minimum level of education for the president and lawmakers

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Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, said there was a need to amend the constitution to increase the level of education required for election as president.

Gbajabiamila also wants the academic qualification of other elective offices, including the legislature, to be raised from the current minimum requirement.

Section 131(d) of the 1999 constitution states that “a person is qualified to be elected to the office of president if he has been educated to the standard of school certificate or its equivalent”.

The speaker, who spoke at the University of Lagos convening on Monday, noted that raising the minimum academic requirement for the post of president will help reform the electoral system.

“I also sincerely believe that the National Assembly should consider Section 131(d) of the 1999 Constitution with a view to raising the minimum standard of education for those aspiring to become the future Presidents of Nigeria and other high functions, including the National Assembly, as opposed to the current minimum requirement of a high school certificate or its equivalent,” said Gbajabiamila.

“As we have lowered the age of eligibility to contest these offices, we should also increase the minimum education requirement. This will be another step in reforming our electoral system and putting in place strong leadership for the country.

However, for this section of the constitution to be amended, it must be supported by 24 state houses of assembly.

Section 9(2) of the Constitution provides that “A law of the National Assembly amending this Constitution, not being a law to which section 8 of this Constitution applies, cannot be adopted in any of the Houses of the National Assembly unless the proposal is supported by the votes of at least a two-thirds majority of all the members of that House and approved by resolution of the Houses of Assembly of at least two-thirds of all states.

Speaking on education sector reform, Gbajabiamila said higher education institutions need to develop a new understanding of “the changing nature of work and the future of employment and enable this new understanding to inform the nature of the teaching and the substance of the education they provide”.

He said the House of Representatives is working on legislation to establish a higher education loan policy for students.

“We will continue this effort until we succeed in designing a system that appropriately addresses our concerns and meets our needs. As a politician, one of the most frequent requests I receive is for higher education funding from otherwise brilliant students who cannot continue their studies due to lack of funds. One way to address this is to have a well-structured student loan policy in place, as seen in many countries around the world,” he said.

“The repayment of these loans will start two years after the end of the national youth service. However, we must all understand that public support for such a system will depend considerably on the higher education institutions themselves.

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