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Regarding qualifications for president

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SIR: There is hardly any doubt that education is important, not least because it is the only cure to ignorance. However, I am of the opinion that we have reached a stage in our societal development that the level of education should not even be stated in the constitution as a requirement for the important office of President. It should by now be taken for granted that a candidate for President would be educated, that the political parties and the electorate can make reasonable judgements in this regard.

   I am of the view that we pack too many things into our constitution, making it rather voluminous and contradictory than be comprehensible to the ordinary Nigerian. I admire the American constitution for its brevity and clarity of language. To be President of the U.S., the most important requirement is for one to be a natural born citizen of the country who has achieved the minimum age of 35 years. I do not have a record of any American President that was an illiterate simply because there was no requirement of educational qualification in the constitution. Similarly in Britain, it is taken for granted that the legislator would be an educated man or woman.

   Even in the Nigerian traditional setting, it is gradually becoming the norm that the traditional ruler would be an educated elite. It was once headline news that a lawyer had become a traditional ruler in a Yoruba town. Today, only the educated and the affluent aspire to lead our various communities. Gone are the days when mere moral uprightness would have been sufficient to elevate one to the leadership of the community.

   As we try to navigate a critical year in our democratic calendar, the next political leader should be one capable of stabilising our drifting nation. To the best of my understanding, all the presidential candidates are educationally qualified to lead. What should be of major concern to the ordinary Nigerian voter is how mere paper qualification can translate into peace and food on the table.

• Anthony Akinola,

Oxford, UK



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