Bill to Establish National Commission for Almajiri Education Passes Second Reading in House

•Proposed legislation discriminatory, says southern lawmaker

Udora Orizu in Abuja

The House of Representatives at its plenary yesterday passed through second reading a bill seeking for the establishment of a National Commission for Almajiri Education and out of School Children.

The proposed legislation is tilted “Bill for an Act to Establish National Commission for Almajiri Education and out of School Children to Provide for a Multimodal System of Education to tackle the Menace of Illiteracy, Develop Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Programmes, Prevent Youth Poverty, Delinquency and Destitution in Nigeria; and for Related Matters (HB.2028),” was sponsored by Hon. Shehu Kakale, and 18 other lawmakers.

Contributing in support of the bill, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, commended the sponsor and noted that education has been a priority of the 9th House in its legislative agenda.

Gbajabiamila said: “The sponsor and I worked very closely last year on the issue of almajiri. I commend him for his proactiveness. Anything that has to do with education in this 9th assembly we have been very proactive.

“Education has been a priority in our legislative agenda. We have just concluded a two day summit on tertiary education; we hope that at the end of the day, we will make recommendations.”

However, a member from Delta State, Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, was of the view that the bill is discriminatory in nature and the proposed commission should have a gestation period.

Ossai said: “You are aware that 12 years ago, the Presidency embarked on making sure that the almajiri are integrated into the educational sector. I agree with this bill but in agreeing with it, they are making an intervention and it should have gestation period like saying this program will last 10 to 15 years or so.

“If the commission is established to just run like that it will be discriminatory in nature. Every child is entitled to education. This particular program is an interventionist to bridge the gap, so if it’s an intervention to bridge the gap it supposed to have a timeline; the laws are made in that way.”

On his part, Hon. Dachung Bagos (PDP, Plateau) lent support to the bill and called for penalty for those who failed to carry out their duties once the commission is established.

“This bill is coming from a PDP man, my colleague from Sokoto. It is a bill that we support totally, but ours is that once this is established the people that are supposed to do their work in the bill should be able to spell out actual punishment for those that are supposed to carry out that duty. At this point, let the penalty be spelt out,” Bagos said.

Responding to Ossai comment, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase who presided over the session, said that the provisions of the bill are not only for almajiri but every out of school children.

Wase said: “I want you (Ossai) to look at the long title of the bill. It says almajiri and out of school children that we have in all parts of Nigeria. It’s not only for the almajiri, it will also take care of our brothers that are always in the street.”

Thereafter, the bill was put to a voice vote by the Deputy Speaker and it was passed and referred to the Committee on Basic Education and Services.

Also at the plenary, the lawmakers passed through second reading a Bill for an Act to Establish Chartered Institute of Corporate and Business Management Affairs; and for Related Matters (HB. 1936). The proposed legislation which was sponsored by Hon. Julius Ihonvbere, was referred to the Committee on Commerce.

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