Ekweremadu wants Associate Degree as least qualification for senators, Reps

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BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
ABUJA—DEPUTY Senate President and Speaker of African Parliament, Ike Ekweremadu, has asked African governments to make Bachelors Degree the least required educational qualification for legislators in the continent, saying such was necessary given the challenges of the 21st Century African societies.

Senator Ekweremadu who decried the harsh effect of long years of military rule on the development of African legislatures, insisted that the challenges of legislating for 21st Century African societies had made possession of higher educational qualifications imperative for parliamentarians in the continent.

A statement Wednesday, in Abuja, by his Special Adviser, Media, Uche Anichukwu, said Senator Ekweremadu said this in Mahe, the Republic of Seychelles, where he is attending the 14th Conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers of African Region.

The statement quoted the Deputy Senate President as saying: “The theatre of politics at the domestic and international levels is changing drastically.”

According to Eweremadu, the development had: “Thrown up many complicated issues like terrorism, piracy, climate change and global warming, child trafficking, global economic recession, trade imbalances between the North and South, cyber-crimes, among others, which require some form of intellectual sophistication to deal with.”

“Accordingly, African Parliaments must set higher standards of education for their membership in order to adequately respond to these challenges; it is only logical to prescribe an Ordinary National Diploma or Associate Degree as minimum qualification for membership of individual African Parliaments to enhance the quality of debate and the product of parliamentary businesses,” he added.

Senator Ekweremadu, however, commended many African parliaments for the impressive pedigree of their members, despite what he called the “absence of minimum qualifications or prescription of low qualifications in their laws.”

He noted that though the Nigerian law provides for a minimum of Senior School Certificate or its equivalent, research during Nigeria’s Sixth National Assembly showed that 96.33 percent of 109 Senators and 92 percent of the 360 Members of the House of Representatives possessed educational qualifications higher than the minimum requirements.

Senator Ekweremadu also disclosed that the entire members of Ghanaian Parliament within the same period possessed a minimum of Bachelor’s Degree.

Meanwhile, the Conference of Commonwealth Speaker and Presiding Officers has passed a resolution condemning the massacre of innocent persons at the shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya and the College of Agriculture, Gujba, Yobe State, Nigeria by suspected terrorists.

The resolution reads in part: “The Conference of Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers recalls that the dignity and sanctity of human lives as well as the imperatives of combating terrorism has always been high on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association agenda, and accordingly condemns this barbaric terrorist attacks on the peace loving peoples of the Republics of Kenya and Nigeria.

“The Conference calls on Commonwealth Parliaments which are yet to adopt or domesticate the UN Conventions on terrorism, particularly the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism to urgently do so”

The Speakers and Presiding Officers further called on “states organising, instigating, abetting or participating in terrorist acts to refrain from such acts and to instead embrace and adopt measures against transnational organised crimes, including illicit traffic in drugs and human beings and money laundering.”

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