Kalu’s Education Bill: Senators mull fine, jail term for children’s non-enrolment in schools

A bill proposed by Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, to amend the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act 2004, has received the unanimous nod of the Senate after the Clerk of the Senate, Barrister Chinedu Akubueze, read its short title during the plenary session pre- sided by the Senate President, Akpabio.

Shortly after the Leader of the Senate, Opeyemi Bamidele, introduced the bill to the Red Chamber, it received the approval of theSenate via a voice vote, The bill prescribes a fine of N50,000 or imprisonment for parents default in enrolling for primary and secondary school education. It also recom- mended free meals for child in the country.

The bill states that every government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age. It further states every parent shall ensure that his child or ward attends and completes his primary school education and junior secondary school education by endeavouring to send the child to primary and junior secondary schools.

As proposed, stakeholders in education in a local government area shall ensure  that every parent or person who has the care and custody of a child performs the duty imposed on him under section 2(2) of this Act.

The Bill further noted that a parent who contravenes the earlier prescription should be liable, on the first conviction to be reprimanded.

“On a second conviction, a fine of N2,000 or imprisonment for a term of one month or both; and on subsequent conviction, to a fine of N5,000 or imprisonment for a term of two months or to both.

The Senate, however, in its amendment, proposed N50,000 fine instead of the N5,000 previously stated in the Act. The amendment states: “Section (4) (b) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting N2,000 and inserting N20,000. Section (4) (c) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting N5,000 and inserting N50,000.” It added, “Section 3(2) of the Principal Act is amended by deleting N10,000 and inserting N100,000.” “A person who receives or obtains any fee contrary to the provisions of subsection (1) of this section commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N10,000 or imprisonment for a term of three months or to both.

As proposed, every parent shall ensure that his child receives full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude by regular attendance at schools.

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Orji Kalu gave Tinubu 300,000, not 8,000 votes —Group replies Adamu Garba

The National support group of the Senate Chief Whip, Orji Kalu has debunked claims by a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Adamu Garba that the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu got only 8,000 votes from Abia State.

The Political pressure group known as “OUK Grassroots Movement” described Garba’s statement as not only erroneous but ignorant clarifying that Kalu, a former Abia Governor and Senate President hopeful contributed over 300,000 votes to the victory of the All Progressive Congress (APC) during the presidential elections.

The group’s national leader, Alhaji Murtala Mohammed in a press release on Tuesday said Garba has no moral standing to advise the party leadership as he had recently dumped the party only to return a month after.

Murtala flayed Garba’s comment on a certain programme of national television where he said that members of the APC in the South-East did not do enough to give them the right to demand that the office of the Senate President should come to the South-East.

He added that Garba spoke out of ignorance about the level of political structure put in place for the Senate Chief Whip by his numerous supporters across the country who wanted the former Abia Governor to run for President ahead of the 2023 election.

He said that the comment was a deliberate attempt to jeopardize Kalu’s chances of emerging as the next Senate President in June, adding that such an attempt will fail.

He called on the leadership of APC and the President-Elect to disregard the comment.

The statement read thus: “Our attention has been drawn to a fake news story flying on social media platforms that Orji Uzor Kalu gave Tinubu only 8000 votes during the Presidential election. That’s an insult to the Distinguished Senator and former Governor who has the capacity to run for President. How can someone who has a national political structure give Tinubu only 8000 votes during the Presidential election? It’s not true

“For the record, we formed a Movement to mobilize support for the former Abia Governor to run for President and we were able to mobilize supporters across all the 36 States of the federation and FCT, Abuja, but when it became clear that our principal is not going to run for President, we collapsed our structure for Tinubu and eventually we gave Tinubu over 300,000 votes

“What I am saying is that the political structure of Orji Uzor Kalu cuts across the whole country because he has followers and supporters all over the 36 States and FCT Abuja, so it is wrong to use votes from Abia State and the Southeast geopolitical zone to judge his contribution to the election of Tinubu as President during February Presidential election.”

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APC coalition petitions NWC to zone Senate President to South East

A group, All Progressives Congress (APC) Coalition of Support Groups, has petitioned the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party to consider zoning the post of Senate President to the South East zone. 

The coalition also urged the NWC to place emphasis on character profile, experience, capacity and competence as yardstick for whoever is to superintend over any arm of government, especially the senate of the 10th Assembly.

They also made a case for commitment to party, loyalty, capacity for performance, and track record of service in party administration for such a canddiate.

The coalition in a statement, yesterday, by Sally William-Chinepu claimed that having been overheated by non-inclusivity in principal elective appointments, the NWC can redress this by taking proper and judicious decision on the South East quest for the Senate presidency.

Said the coalition: “For a smooth democratic process,  there is a need for the protection of nascent democracy which is hinged on the principle of Federal Character as provided in the constitution of Nigeria that recognises and promotes inclusivity of all groups in the country into public offices. By compliance of this provision, the peaceful co-existence and national security is guaranteed which is the bedrock of progress and development of our nation. Without being subservient to primordial argument of state, tribal, religious, regional considerations, emphasis should be placed on character profile, experience, capacity and competence on who should superintend over any arm of government especially the senate of the 10th Assembly.

“For the 10th Assembly, the aforementioned should be the yard stick in determining who becomes the senate president. As members of the NWC, paramount amongst your reasons for preference on who become the senate president, should be commitment to party loyalty to party, capacity for performance and track record of service in party administration.

“While not objecting to the emotional argument of geopolitical consideration, it behooves on the NWC to lean on the balance of justice and equity, and insecurity challenges to concede the senate president position to the South East geo-political zone, where undoubtedly character and competence is remarkably in abundance.

“Only recently, the South East political zone has been overheated by non-inclusivity in principal elective appointments which the NWC can redress by taking proper and judicious decision on the South East Senate Presidency.

“Going forward, while not overstretching our bounds of advice, we are compelled to further micro zone the office of the Senate President to a square peg to a square hole,” the coalition said.

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APC may zone Senate presidency to S’East

As the race for leadership of the 10th National Assembly gathers momentum, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) might zone the Senate presidency to the South East. A source told The Guardian the move is to appease the zone.

Those eyeing the seat include, Senators Orji Uzor Kalu, Osita Izunaso, Jibrin Barau, Sani Musa, Godswill Akpabio and Ali Ndume. Also speculated to be in the list against the ranking standing rule are former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari (APC, Zamfara West), outgoing governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi (APC, Ebonyi South) and erstwhile governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole (APC, Edo North).

It’s unclear which of the lawmakers from the zone would get the nod of President-elect Bola Tinubu and the party in the events leading to the June inauguration of the next Assembly. 

Already, there are speculations that Akpabio is already exploring the prospect of settling for a ministerial appointment. He is believed to be angling for either the Petroleum or Niger Delta ministerial seats in place of the coveted Senate presidency.

The source said: “To avoid losing out, Akpabio has since begun reaching out to Bola Tinubu personally and through his allies to return to any of the plum ministries, which appears to be more favourable to the former two- term governor, when compared to the Senate president position.

“His chances are very dim and he knows this. Our party and the President-elect are committed to forming a government of national unity, and quell restiveness in geo-political zones in the country, beginning with the Southeast by giving them the opportunity to produce the next Senate President.”

This comes, as the governing party is said to be considering between the North West and Central for office of the House of Representatives Speaker.

Among the are sitting Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris Wase, Makki Yalleman, Adamu Yusuf Gagdi, Benjamin Kalu, Peter Akpatason, Muktar Aliyu Betara, Sada Soli Jibia, Tunji Olawuyi, Abbas Tajuddeen and Aminu Sani Jaji.

The speculation is coming against the backdrop of the meeting by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and some of the aspirants where the issue as to whether he has a preferred candidate was said to have been discussed.

A close source said: “The Speaker did not call us to ask anybody to step down, as it’s being said. One, there are insinuations and accusation that he is supporting one candidate.

“He called that meeting first to know how we are campaigning as individuals and whether we have problems among us the aspirants, which we said no. We don’t have any problem.

“Then, some of the aspirants raised an issue that Speaker’s boys are using his name for an aspirant, and that the Speaker asked them to campaign for him. And it has begun to create apprehension and tension.

“So, some people raised that observation for Speaker to call the attention of one of his staff that is parading himself that he’s under the instruction of Mr. Speaker to support one candidate. That was sorted out.

“Secondly, Speaker emphasised to us that he is a partyman and being the Speaker, he has never done anti-party. So, he assured us that any day, any time the party zones, he will be supporting the zone that the party zoned to. This is the only thing that happened. So, anybody that tells you anything outside that, is not true.”

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