UN bod­ies seek im­proved leg­is­la­ture in Nigeria

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL - By Musa Ab­dul­lahi Kr­ishi

Es­tab­lished by an Act of the Par­lia­ment in 2011 as an or­gan of the Na­tional As­sem­bly, the Na­tional In­sti­tute for Leg­isla­tive Stud­ies (NILS) in Abuja has the man­date to run and main­tain qual­ity and world-class li­braries and data­base on leg­isla­tive sys­tems and demo­cratic gov­er­nance.

The in­sti­tute is the first of its kind in the African con­ti­nent. In car­ry­ing out its man­date, the in­sti­tute launched a data bank with the ob­jec­tive of pro­vid­ing com­pre­hen­sive ac­cess to na­tional, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional le­gal in­for­ma­tion.

Only re­cently, the in­sti­tute got ap­proval from the Na­tional Uni­ver­si­ties Com­mis­sion (NUC) to run post­grad­u­ate pro­grammes at both di­ploma and Mas­ter’s lev­els in af­fil­i­a­tion with the Univer­sity of Benin.

Also, as part of its ca­pac­ity build­ing ef­forts, the in­sti­tute re­cently got a grant of $1.1 mil­lion from the United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme and Demo­cratic Gov­er­nance for De­vel­op­ment (UNDP/DGD) to im­ple­ment devel­op­men­tal pro­grammes on in­sti­tu­tional pro­cesses in the par­lia­ment. The ef­forts also saw the sign­ing of a grant agree­ment with the African Ca­pac­ity Build­ing Foun­da­tion (ACBF) in Abuja.

This, some law­mak­ers be­lieve, would go a long way in en­hanc­ing leg­isla­tive per­for­mance of law­mak­ers in African so they can com­pete favourably with their coun­ter­parts from other con­ti­nents. Dur­ing the sign­ing event, Deputy Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Se­na­tor Ike Ek­w­ere­madu, who is the chair­man of NILS’s gov­ern­ing board, said the ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion grant agree­ment was a step in the right di­rec­tion which would boost leg­isla­tive ac­tiv­i­ties among parliamentarians.

Ek­w­ere­madu who is also the Speaker of the ECOWAS Par­lia­ment said: “This no­ble ef­fort seeks to fur­ther en­rich and strengthen demo­cratic process in the ECOWAS par­lia­ment and Na­tional Par­lia­ments in the West African sub-re­gion. The cur­rent two years NILS-CAP is an­chored on train­ing for parliamentarians and sup­port staff, re­search, net­work­ing and in­dus­trial strength­en­ing.”

On the $1.1 mil­lion UNDP/ DGD grant, he said “The 10-item ac­tiv­i­ties be­tween UNDP/DGD and NILS in­clude de­vel­op­ment of a model for over­sight guides with nec­es­sary tem­plates for the two cham­bers of the Na­tional As­sem­bly; re­view of the rules and busi­ness of the Na­tional As­sem­bly based on in­ter­na­tional best prac­tices; prepa­ra­tion of in­duc­tion kit for mem­bers of the 8th As­sem­bly.

“NILS is not only vig­or­ously pur­su­ing full ac­tu­al­iza­tion for its man­date to pro­vide sup­port to the leg­is­la­ture in Nigeria and the West African re­gion but has also be­come an aca­demic in­sti­tu­tion,” he said.

Ek­w­ere­madu how­ever pointed out some chal­lenges fac­ing the in­sti­tute, say­ing “de­spite the progress made so far, the work of ca­pac­ity build­ing in Nigeria’s leg­is­la­tures re­main daunt­ing. The chal­lenges range from dis­turb­ing trends of high at­tri­tion rate among leg­is­la­tors af­ter gen­eral elec­tions across the West African coun­tries and weak re­source base of the leg­is­la­tures to sup­port ef­fec­tive­ness.

“The im­pli­ca­tions of high at­tri­tion rate among leg­is­la­tors in­clude draw­back aris­ing from loss of in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory and loss of ca­pac­ity as 70 per­cent of in­com­ing leg­is­la­tors are new and will re­quire train­ing from the ba­sics. The con­se­quence is loss of con­fi­dence in deal­ing with other arms of govern­ment which will have to be built afresh over a few years again.

“In ad­di­tion, there is the ini­tial low pro­duc­tiv­ity aris­ing from the new­ness of mem­bers, thus the need for in­ten­sive ini­tial train­ing. It should be noted that some parliamentarians en­gage in in­ter­na­tional, con­ti­nen­tal and re­gional par­lia­ments and par­lia­men­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions, thus ac­quir­ing tech­ni­cal ex­pe­ri­ence or ex­per­tise in spe­cific ar­eas and net­works. All these are lost when they lose their seats at home,” he said.

For his part, Deputy Speaker and al­ter­nate chair­man of NILS board, Emeka Ihe­dioha said the grant sign­ing came at a right time sig­ni­fy­ing that NILS is grow­ing tremen­dously and liv­ing up to the ob­jec­tives for which is was set up.

He said “the in­sti­tute is grad­u­ally be­com­ing a ref­er­ence point for re­search and ca­pac­ity build­ing for leg­is­la­ture not just in Nigeria but in Africa and be­yond. This is in­deed glad­den­ing.

“This even is also his­toric in the sense that it rep­re­sents an­other phase of high­level col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the in­sti­tute, de­vel­op­ment part­ners and ca­pac­ity build­ing in­sti­tu­tions of re­pute that it re­lates with.

“In an­other sense, the sig­nif­i­cance of this oc­ca­sion tes­ti­fies of the vi­brant com­mit­ment, de­ter­mi­na­tion and pur­pose­ful fo­cus of the Na­tional As­sem­bly lead­er­ship to steer the in­sti­tute on the path of a world-class in­tel­lec­tual think-tank and re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion that can com­pete favourably among its peers any­where in the world,” he said.

Also, ACBF Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Pro­fes­sor Em­manuel Nnadozie, said the grant would go a long way in boost­ing the in­sti­tute’s core man­date of en­hanc­ing leg­isla­tive per­for­mance among parliamentarians.

He said: “NILS-CAP is de­signed on the premise that as key gov­er­nance in­sti­tu­tions the role of ef­fec­tive leg­is­la­tures is crit­i­cal and fun­da­men­tal as Africa evolves to con­sol­i­date demo­cratic gains and re­solve pock­ets of in­sta­bil­ity in parts of the con­ti­nent.”

Giv­ing a break­down of the grant ob­jec­tives, Nnadozie said it was for train­ing for parliamentarians and staff, re­search, net­work­ing and in­sti­tu­tional strength­en­ing of NILS, not­ing that the train­ing pro­grams will ben­e­fit both leg­is­la­tors and staff from the Na­tional and State As­sem­blies.

Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the in­sti­tute, Dr Ladi Ha­malai, ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion to both ACBF and UNDP/DGD for the agree­ment and the $1.1 mil­lion grant say­ing the grant would en­able the in­sti­tute to im­ple­ment pro­grammes that tar­get the de­vel­op­ment of in­sti­tu­tional pro­cesses in the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

She said the grant en­ables the in­sti­tute to source in­ter­na­tional and na­tional con­sul­tants to as­sist in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­grammes that range from de­vel­op­ment of over­sight tools to prepa­ra­tions for ma­te­ri­als for the in­duc­tion of new leg­is­la­tors in 2015.

“2014 to the first quar­ter of 2015 will be very busy for the in­sti­tute. Apart from over 100 in its 2014 work plan, the in­sti­tute is com­mit­ted to pro­grammes in state as­sem­blies and now NILS-CAP as well as 10 projects sup­ported by UNDP grant,” she added.

Also, the project is im­por­tant as the Pan-African Par­lia­ment is now headed by Mem­ber rep­re­sent­ing Mbaitoli/Ike­duru Federal Con­stituency of Imo State Mr. Bethel Amadi Nnae­meka. With this po­si­tion it would be out of place if Nige­rian leg­is­la­tors do not have the grasp of leg­isla­tive pro­ceed­ings.

How­ever, it is only hoped that the in­sti­tute will take full ad­van­tage of these grants pro­vided by these in­ter­na­tional bod­ies to fur­ther en­rich its ac­tiv­i­ties and boost the ca­pac­ity of law­mak­ers in both Nige­rian and other African coun­tries.

Se­na­tor Ek­w­ere­madu is Speaker ECOWAS Par­lia­ment

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