By Umar Muhammad Puma
The Director General of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), Dr Ladi Hamalia has denied bias in the selection of six committees of the senate and the House of Representatives by the Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for a capacity development Programme.
The Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives involved include Rules and Business, Ethics and Privileges, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Donor Relations, Constitutional Review, Women in Parliament/Women Affairs and Electoral Affairs.
Hamalia said though no committee of the National Assembly can be said to be insignificant however pointed out that there were some specific and fundamental areas that made the enhancement intervention inevitable of the selected six expedient.
Besides, she noted that findings have shown over the years that the output of the key committees have shown lack of experience on the part of the legislators, inadequately trained legislative staff, lack of high quality technical/professional support, poor oversight capability, poor public perception and lack of understanding of the work of NASS and high turnover of lawmakers after every term.
According to her, the programme, scheduled for March and June 2015 was meant to address the challenges.
She said: “The Nigerian legislature has faced with challenges including lack of experience on the part of the legislators; inadequately trained legislative staff; lack of high quality technical/professional support; poor oversight capability and poor public perception and lack of understanding of the work of NASS.
“The high turnover rate of legislators following every election since 1999 has tended to exacerbate the question of The Needs Assessment was conducted in November 2011”.
“As rightly stated by the Speakers of the EU Parliament at the Copenhagen Conference on June 30, 2006, the development of parliamentary institutions is synonymous with democratization, and their sound functioning is a fundamental requirement of democracy”.
Saying that the National Assembly is the youngest arm of government established in 1999 following the restoration of democratic rule, Hamalai pointed out that interventions directed towards addressing these challenges through focus on developing systems could contribute to the ongoing effort of the country in promoting democratic governance.
“The DGD II project document has underlined the project’s intention to support specific committees in an effort to improve their lawmaking and oversight responsibilities, and build their technical capacities to deepen democratic norms and practices.
“Besides, the roadmap to the 2015 Nigerian Elections has outlined the priority areas of engagement with the NASS such as parliamentary oversight system; parliamentary ethics and conduct regime; and parliamentary information sharing mechanisms.
“Through partnership with the NILS, the DGD project implements key activities in line with the identified thematic areas and committees that ultimately enable the NASS to indeed become the cornerstone of democratic governance and the protector of democratic principles”, the DG added.