By Taiye Agbaje
Abuja – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, says to deepen Nigeria’s democracy, efforts must be made to build the nation’s institutions.
Dogara said this on Friday during an inspection tour of the ongoing work at the permanent site of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILDS) along Airport Road, Abuja.
According to him, the truth that we have always said is that if democracy is based on the rule of law, it therefore means that for you to have a robust democracy, your laws must be robust.
“And in a situation where you don’t have an institution like this (NILDS) that models parliamentarians and even some of our staff, you discover that the laws would be shallow and at the end of the day, democracy itself would be shallow.
“So, if we want to deepen democracy, we have to deepen institutions like this, and not only in terms of attracting students from other countries so that we can pass our own democratic experience to them, but timely analysis of bills, in getting legislative aides to actually know what they are supposed to do, not to come and be hangers-on in the National Assembly.
‘’If you go to the Institution of Parliament in the United States, you would see that on almost every topical issue that are discussed on the floor of the Congress, there are perhaps different researches that are captured from different professors within the U.S.
‘’So, a parliamentarian can just log unto it and bring out the statistics, but in Nigeria, we don’t have all those things,
‘’So, it means we have to train and retrain our staff so that they are equipped with the right tools to help the parliamentarians in discharging their responsibilities,” he said.
The speaker said when the project is completed, it would help in translating the country’s laws into living laws.
‘’This is so because the laws can be applied to challenges that may arise, that may have not even been contemplated at the time the laws were crafted,” he said.
Dogara, who expressed satisfaction with the quality of work done, however, blamed poor budget implementation for the slow pace of work.
He said it was disheartening that since 2011 the building had been under construction, and it had yet to be completed.
“Obviously as we all know, except we want to pretend, funding has been a very serious challenge.
‘’Even in the national budget, in most cases, only 30 per cent of capital projects are executed nationally and this is not an exemption.
‘’So, it is the issue of funding that is the problem. I remember that we had this sort of challenges with the EFCC Headquarters which was commissioned earlier this year.
‘’And until we put the right focus there to insist that for anyone who wants to visit Nigeria and see how we fight corruption, their first point of interface is the EFCC and the environment where the officials operate from, and where they were wasn’t that befitting.
‘’So, our attention was on that building and by the Grace of God, the executive, working with the support of the National Assembly, was able to get the funds in good time,” he said.
The speaker, however, called for the replication of same executive-legislative partnership that facilitated the completion of the EFCC complex in the NILDS’case.
‘’I call strongly on the executive to collaborate with us in order to deliver this institution that will not only bring prestige to Nigeria, but it will help the institution of democracy itself,” he remarked. NAN