There are plans in the Senate to insert a new provision in the constitution that would effectively bar serving political and public office holders including the President, vice president, state governors, ministers, members of the National Assembly as well as others at the state and federal levels from sending their children and wards to schools outside the country.
Already, a bill to that effect has passed through second reading in the Senate and has been referred to the Senate Constitution Amendment Review Committee for listing for further consideration.
The bill sponsored by Senator Basheer Garba Mohammed seeks to bar public office holders including heads of public institutions and directors in agencies from sending their children to schools abroad except for specialisation at post graduate levels or for courses not offered in Nigerians schools.
To achieve its objective, the bill seeks to amend the fifth schedule of the 1999 constitution by providing for a new section 15 which is proposed to prescribe that “a public official shall not send his children or wards abroad for studies on course offered by institutions in Nigeria except for specialisation at postgraduate level”.
In the lead debate on the bill yesterday, Senator Mohammed said such is the only way to guarantee commitment of political and public office holders towards the revamping of education in the country.
He said allowing public office holders to send their children to schools abroad was largely responsible for the neglect of the education sector adding that the practice had also led to massive capital flight and brain drain. He averred that such adversely affects the economic and social lives of the nation.
Mohammed urged the Senate to pass the bill saying it is only when public officials identify with Nigerians schools that the sector will receive the required attention.
“My President, my distinguished colleagues, I sincerely believe that the remedy for this sad situation is the need for a sacrifice by Nigerian public officials, both appointed and elected. Let us directly identify with the Nigerian school system by training our children and wards in our private and public institutions,” he said.
Noting that he has been saddened by the deplorable state of Nigerian schools, Mohammed urged the Senate to imagine what the nation would be in the future if a drastic measure was not taken to salvage the situation.
“Today, in this digital age, the pupils sit on bare floor. You then ask; what manner of leaders of tomorrow are we producing? You may also ask: where are the children of the senators, honourable members, ministers and governors. If our children attend such schools, can we afford to leave them in such a sorry state? The answer is No”, he said.
Statistics provided in the lead debate showed that Nigerians in tertiary institutions in the United Kingdom had hit 22,190 with annual remittance of N328 billion as at 2010 which is far beyond annual federal yearly budget for education. The number is expected to get to 30, 000 students by 2015.
Similarly, the statistics showed that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) indicated that over 71,000 Nigerians are in Ghanaian institutions with annual remittance about N160 billion. The same trend is applicable to other countries especially China, United States, Singapore, India, among others.