Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has criticized lawmakers at the National Assembly for their attempt to amend the 2004 Universal Basic Education Act by imposing severe penalties on parents who don’t send their children to school.
Falana, who is also a Human Rights Lawyer, in a statement he personally signed, urged the lawmakers to stop merely paying lip service to the poor state of basic education in the country.
According to him, instead of imposing stricter penalties on parents, the National Assembly should address the failure of state governments to contribute their share to the Universal Basic Education Fund, and he suggested amending the Constitution to enable the deduction of these funds directly from state governments.
His letter read: “The needless resolutions are indeed unfortunate because they show that the federal lawmakers are seemingly lacking in institutional memory of the progress made by the legislature in making laws to promote universal access to basic education.
“Since each of the 36 States of the Federation has adopted the Child’s Rights Act and enacted a Child’s Right Law, it has become the joint responsibility of the Federal, State, and Local Governments to ensure that every Nigerian child is given access to free and compulsory education.
“These laws have been observed in their breach because the members of the political class drawn from all registered political parties have not demonstrated any commitment to the education of every child in Nigeria.
“Hence, the members of the legislative and executive organs of governments have failed to appreciate the danger of having 18.5 million out-of-school children, the highest number in the world. Therefore, amending the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act to make it more stringent for parents who will not work in a poverty-stricken environment.
“What the National Assembly should do instead is address the refusal of state governments to make counterpart contributions to the Universal Basic Education Fund pursuant to section 2 of the Compulsory Free Universal Basic Education Act.
“As a matter of urgency, the National Assembly should ensure the amendment of the Constitution to empower the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from the source the counterpart fund payable by every state government to the Universal Basic Education Fund.”
Falana has spoken up on many occasions to challenge the government, as well as advising them on ways to help the masses.
During the #EndSARS movement, his voice was heard, and he has done similar work over the years.