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Altering the Constitution To Increase Minimum Educational Qualification For Public Office

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A Constitution Alteration Bill in the Senate, sponsored by Senator Istifanus Gyang (PDP, Plateau) seeks to increase the minimum educational qualification of candidates contesting for the offices of President, Governor, National and State Assembly legislators. Presently, the 1999 Nigerian Constitution stipulates School Certificate level or its equivalent as educational qualification for election to the office of President (section 131), Governor (section 177), as well as to the National and State Assemblies (section 65 and 106).

This bill proposes that a person running for the office of President of Governor should  possess a minimum educational qualification of Higher National Diploma or its equivalent, while a person contesting for a seat in the National Assembly of a  State House of Assembly should possess a minimum of a National Diploma or its equivalent.

Several reforms are being sought and implemented to improve the electoral system and the quality of governance. The qualifications of elected public office holders have frequently come into question in relation to their capability to steer the affairs of government. Allegations of certificate forgery have been rife among elected politicians and those contesting elections. In one instance, a governor-elect lost his seat due to a certificate forgery allegation levelled against the deputy governor-elect.

The argument is often made that as certain careers require a stipulated level of educational qualifications, individuals with responsibilities as important as being at the nation’s helm of affairs, ought to possess significant educational qualifications as a pre-requisite, in addition to other desirable qualities, in order to be deemed capable to perform in such positions.

See the bill at: