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Higher qualification for lawmakers in Nigeria advocated

The Director-General of the National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies, Professor Abubakar Suleiman has called for the amendment of the constitution to raise the educational qualification required to be a member of parliament in Nigeria.

Professor Suleiman made the call at the 2022 house of Representatives press corps week and award at the National Assembly in Abuja.

He said with higher qualification, the capacity of lawmakers to master legislative practice and procedures as well as contribute to robust debates in parliament becomes very high. 

The major challenges threatening the institutionalization of the legislature in Nigeria is, he stressed, the high rate of turnover of lawmakers.

According to Professor Suleiman, the continuous replacement of a significant number of legislators after each election cycle has serious implications for parliament’s ability to perform its role effectively. 

“This trend in legislative attrition is expected to be worse in the 10th Assembly because of the trend already shown during the primary election in which more than 70% of the legislators failed to secure return tickets during their party primaries in 2022,” he said.

“Indeed, out of the 30% that secured party returned tickets, many of them may not make it at the 2023 general election, further compounding the already worse situation.

“Consequently, scholars are already predicting that the 10th Assembly might witness the highest rate of turnover since the beginning of the current democratic experiment in 1999.” 

The chairperson of the house press corps, Comrade Grace Ike, said the event was organised to honour individuals who have contributed their quota in promoting the legislative system.

The speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, represented by the deputy majority leader, Peter Akpatason, stressed that the media has a “greater role to play” in correcting the misconception of the people in the legislature.

The awards presented included those for the most outstanding female clerk, most resourceful female clerk, most media-friendly clerk, most outstanding female parliamentarian, most outstanding spokesperson to the speaker and to the Clerk of the house.

Reporting by Ibrahim Shehu; Editing by Fany Olumoye and Tony Okerafor