By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
The United Nations (UN) has promised to partner with the National Assembly in order to expose Nigerian lawmakers to the international best practices after the 2015 general elections.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja shortly after a meeting with the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the UN Resident Coordinator, Daouda Toure, who is also the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, said the meeting dwelled mainly on how to ensure free, fair and credible elections in 2015.
He said also that the meeting was imperative to discuss how to further build the democratic institutions of Nigeria, through partnership with the Nigeria Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS).
“We are delighted that the Deputy President of the Senate is extremely keen as the Chairman of the NILS in bringing the cooperation to fruition. It is important to discuss not only towards the election, but also after the election.
“We need to see what can be done in reinforcing the cooperation between the development partners and the National Assembly to expose Nigerian parliamentarians to the best practices that can be identified elsewhere in the world”, he said.
Also speaking, the Head of the EU delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ambassador Michel Arrion, stressed the need for a long-term support by the development partners to the nation’s democratic institutions.
He further explained: “We discussed the situation about the presidential election and our support to the process. We also discussed about a long-term preparation in terms of strengthening the parliament and the democratization process in Nigeria”.
Briefing journalists also on the meeting, Ekweremadu, who also chairs the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution and the Governing Council of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), said there was the need to set up training programmes or induction courses for the new lawmakers immediately after the 2015 general election.
“We are aware that there is usually a very high turn over of parliamentarians after elections in Nigeria. That is part of our development and the nascent democracy we are working on. We hope that over time, we will put it behind us and parliamentarians would spend more time in the parliament.
“However, until such a time, we need to also put things in place that will enable those who are coming in newly to be sufficiently equipped with the skills and knowledge to get on easily at both the National and State Assemblies”, he said.