BY- AJILOGBA ABDUL-HAMID ADEWALE
As we are very much aware that certain steps are being taken by state Governments and FG to re-open Schools. Despite all warnings given to States by FG not to re-open any School as we are still battling with Covid-19. Some states turn deaf to it. The question begging for answer is what is the legality of state Governments opening Schools amidst FG order instructing them not to?
Education has been classified under the concurrent legislative list of Nigerian Constitution. The concurrent list is the list in which both the Federal and states have the powers to decide and make legislations on. i.e the state has power to make rules on concurrent legislative list without any approval from Federal government. The paragraph 27-30 item L Part II, of the Second Schedule of the Nigeria Constitution provide the detailed right of the States legislative powers and federal legislative powers on Nigeria’s education.
“`The paragraph 27 goes thus; The National Assembly shall have to make laws for the Federation or any part thereof with respect to university education, technological education or such professional education as may from time to time be designated by the National Assembly.
The paragraph 28 goes thus; power conferred on the National Assembly under paragraph 27 of this item shall include power to establish an institution for the purposes of university, post-primary, technological or professional education.
The paragraph 29 goes thus: Subject as herein provided, a house of Assembly shall have power to make laws for the state with respect to the establishment of an institution for purposes of university, technological or professional Education.
The paragraph 30 goes thus; Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs of this item shall be construed so as to limit the power of a house of Assembly to make laws for the state with respect to technical, vocational, post-primary, primary or other forms of education, including the establishment of institutions for the pursuit of education“` .
Without much ado or explanation, the Paragraphs above have clearly states the power of each tiers of government. Therefore, the states subject to the approval of a house of assembly can legislate on state education.
However, the country at this time is at war battling with a pandemic, which denote that the security of citizens is not guaranteed if states open schools. It’s well known and factual that the President is the chief security officer of the federation and he is under Constitutional obligation to keep the citizens of Nigeria safe. Therefore, Federal government ordered the closure of all Schools in Nigeria so as to guarantee the security of all citizens in Nigeria. The question now is whether or not the States can re-open schools despite the fact that FG orders the closure of schools?
Well, it has already been discussed above that States have the right to legislate on education matters as the item is under concurrent list of Nigeria Constitution but the security of life of citizens supercedes all other matters thereto. FG orders supersede the decision of states. Therefore, the decision of states to re-open Schools is illegal and unconstitutional subject to the provision of Section 5 (3 a) , it is to the effect that the state governor shall not exercise his power to impede that of the president. moreso, the decision of the governor to re-open schools is against the security of life of citizens.