Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives on Thursday observed that National Assembly is making appreciable progress in fulfilling its democratic obligations to Nigerians through capacity development since 1999.
Dogara explained that parliamentary capacity development is very important to ensure the balance of power between the branches of a democratic system – the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary – which enables the mechanism of checks and balances essential to sustainable economic growth and development.
The Speaker made this known at the third matriculation ceremony of the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS)/University of Benin (UNIBEN) Post-Graduate Programme at the National Assembly.
He said it is common knowledge in parliaments across the world that nothing hinders the delivery of the promise of democracy more than lack of capacity.
Commending NILS/UNIBEN for the programmes designed to build capacity of legislative staff, Dogara noted the initiative has started yielding positive outcomes, adding that the knowledge imparted on them will build a pool of competent staff and members to enhance international best practices in the discharge of their duties.
“The point must be made that it is knowledge that animates parliaments all over the world while nothing stultifies the promise of democracy more than an intellectually hollow Parliament.
“By paying particular attention to capacity strengthening, the National Assembly has made appreciable progress in fulfilling its democratic obligations. The capacity of the National Assembly to make laws, review existing laws and perform legislative oversight and representative roles has been significantly enhanced and the technical capacity of staff and legislative aides is progressively being strengthened and expanded.
“These legislative responsibilities have become even more critical since the coming into operation of the 1999 Constitution as demonstrated by the robust role being played by the Legislature in our democracy and the movement towards an open society in which citizens participate more in matters of national importance, contribute in decision-making processes and demand greater accountability on the part of political office holders.”
He congratulated both the students and some of the icons of the legislature who were honoured with Fellowship of National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS), saying it is in recognition of their contributions to the growth and development of the legislature in Nigeria.
Those awarded with Fellows of NILS are former Presidents of the Senate, Dr Joseph Wayas, Senator Ken Nnamani, former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba and Aminu Bello Masari, currently Katsina State Governor.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja