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Senators disagree over education bill

Posted by By ISMAIL OMIPIDAN and BLESSING ONWUZO, Abuja on 2008/01/11 | Views: 555 |

Senators disagree over education bill


Senators were yesterday sharply divided over the Bill that seek to legalize the teaching of civic education in primary and post-primary institutions, with most of them opposed to it, saying that the Senate could not make law where it has no authority.

Senators were yesterday sharply divided over the Bill that seek to legalize the teaching of civic education in primary and post-primary institutions, with most of them opposed to it, saying that the Senate could not make law where it has no authority.

Interestingly, Senator Adamu Aliero who is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, and who also appended his signature to the report that became a subject of controversy, was among those who kicked against some of the recommendations of the committee.

Once the Senate resolved into the committee of the whole to consider the report, Deputy Minority leader of the Senate, Senator Olorunninbe Mamora while calling for caution in the handling of the Bill said: "We need to be careful. You will recall that 1999-2003 there was an attempt by the National Assembly to proscribe tenure for local government chairmen. I happen to be the chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies at that time, the matter went to the Supreme Court and it ruled in our favour. I cannot see anywhere where the constitution says we can legislate for primary schools."

Speaking in the same vein, Deputy Senate leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), said: "I think what Senator Mamora said clearly explains the situation. We have fields of authority and that is why we are a federation. You have federal authority, you have state authority. Distinguished colleagues, what we are trying to do now is to legislate for states in an area, where in my view, we donít have that authority. We can legislate for institutions that fall within federal authority and allow the states, if the legislation is so good let the states replicate the federal law."

On her own part, Senate Committee Chairman on Education, Senator Joy Emodi said, "Education comes under the concurrent list. Some of my colleagues felt that we should not legislate on an item on the concurrent list including education. Some where saying that we could legislate in certain circumstances and I think we got over that. We can legislate, that was why instead of allowing the controversy to continue, I agreed that we restrict ourselves to federal institutions and schools in the FCT."

She further explained that she was moved to sponsor the Bill owing to the decline in the moral standards among Nigerians especially in schools, even as she expressed the hope that if eventually the Bill sees the light of the day, it would go along way in changing the attitudes of young Nigerians.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Ahmed Sani argued that the Senate could legislate for the country and that such laws should be binding on all parts of Nigeria .

But Senator Jibrin Aminu, a one time education minister advised the Senate not to contemplate prescribing penalty on issues concerning primary schools when such schools are owned by the Councils.
In the end however, rather than pass the Bill it was further referred back to the committee with a mandate to report back Wednesday next week.

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