The House of Representatives has rejected a bill to stop public officials from sending their children and wards to schools abroad without approval of the Minister of Education.

Rep. Sergius Ogun (PDP- Edo) who sponsored the bill while leading debate on the floor of the house on Thursday in Abuja, proposed that a public officer could only send his/her children or wards to foreign schools after approval of the minister of education.

He said that such officers must provide proof of ability to pay the school fees of his/her wards.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Section 4 of the rejected bill provides that a public officer shall not send his ward or children oversea for studies without declaration of interest,  subject to approval.

Section 6 of the bill provided the steps for getting approval, “A public officer declaring interest in sending his ward or child abroad for further studies shall submit the following documents for consideration.

Such document according to the lawmaker, includes a complete form stating the name and address of the public officer, the name and age of the child or ward,
Others are; his level of education, name of intended school abroad, duration of study, and number of children studying abroad; letter of appointment, Bank statement of account, salary pay slip, declaration of assets form, among others.

He said  the bill had the capacity to address the resources allocation to  public schools.

According to him, most of those who patronise privately owned educational institutions or those that travel abroad to study are children and wards of Nigerian public officers.

“These are the officers who should take responsibility for building our public institutions,” he said.
He expressed concern over the outflow of foreign resources to finance such expenditure, adding that over N1 billion go into the economy of Ghana from Nigeria.

Rep. Chiyere Igwe (PDP- Rivers), while opposing the bill, said the content of the bill offended the spirit of the 1999 Constitution which granted  every Nigerian the right to move anywhere.

He stated that the Code of Conduct Act was enough to determine if a public officer had the means to send his/her wards to schools abroad.
Rep Leke Abejide (ADC- Kogi) also spoke against the bill on the basis of the 1999 constitution, adding that many had their wards in such schools before being elected.

“He should step down this bill. It is against my right. Most of us, before getting here, we have our children schooling abroad. So, it is not because we are public officers, we should not send our children abroad.

“If you say because I am now a member of the house of representatives, I should go and withdraw my children, from where they are schooling, when we all agree that the schools are not in order.

When Rep. Ahmed Wase, the Deputy Speaker, who presided over sitting put the bill to a vote, it was overwhelmingly rejected. (NAN)

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