• Friday July 6, 2018 15:01 PM
  • NILS Press Corps
The Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Ataba Sani Omolori has advocated for better collaboration and dialogue between the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the legislatures, said such relationship would in turn encourage accountability, transparency in governance and consolidation of democracy amongst others. In his keynote address at a Workshop in Abuja on Thursday, July 5, 2018, jointly organized by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), European Union (EU) Support for Democratic Governance in Nigeria Programme and YIAGA Africa, a Youth-based non-governmental organization that promotes democratic governance, Human Rights and Public Policy advocacy, Omolori stated that many legislatures across the globe suffer same negative image perception problems simply because of the communication gulf that exist between them and the public.
He informed that the main objective of the workshop was to deliberate and device new ways of strengthening a cordial relationship between the CSOs and Clerks of various legislatures in order to boost trust, greater participation in democratic processes, better understanding of the workings of the legislature and its members and extensive representation of public interests in government.

He added that the Nigerian National Assembly recorded a giant stride in an attempt to encourage openness and greater public involvement in governance and decision-making. He listed some of the measures adopted to include the passage of the freedom of information Act for easy access to information by members of the public, live coverage of plenary sessions which includes live streaming of proceedings on various social media platforms, biannual legislative digest publication, opening Committee meetings to the press, and just recently the reorganization of the Information department and annual NASS/NILDS Quiz Competitions focusing on the legislature and democracy for Secondary school students.
The CNA also averred that the National Assembly Open Week slated to hold soon is aiming to canvass and sustain stronger ties between the legislatures and the public as critical stakeholders in democracy.
He however noted that instead of support and synergy, the legislature in Nigeria has rather experienced castigation from the CSOs. He urged that instead of friction it is imperative for them to find an effective means of forging a productive alliance in the interest of the public.
He also charged the CSOs to continue to find more effective ways of instituting probity and transparency as well as demanding accountability from the legislature.

In her goodwill message, the EU Ambassador, Ketil Karlsen through a representative said the EU-SDGN Programme is targeted at strengthening democracy in Nigeria through viable, effective and legitimate institutions, adding that the programme is expected to be implemented from 2017 to 2021. She informed that it is anchored on five components which are: to provide support to the Independent National Electoral Commission; support the National Assembly; support political parties; support media and Civil Society Organizations.
She also stated that it is essential to understand that the proper functioning of the National Assembly is key for poverty reduction, good governance and public engagement. The Ambassador also said that the EU will want to see democratic institutions can function effectively through idea sharing and promoting best practices.
In her presentation, the Director General of the Institute, Prof. Ladi Hamalai called on members of the public and the Civil Society Organisations to leverage on the upcoming National Assembly Open Week for public enlightenment and advocacy on consolidating the gains of democracy.
Earlier, the founder of YIAGA Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo took the podium to commend the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies for allowing such a laudable collaboration for the sake of consolidating democracy. He described NILDS as prestigious and a true reflection of an intellectual hub of the legislature, one of its kind in Africa. He further said while the Institute commands the respect of CSOs, it should serve as an essential valve through which members of the public could participate in policy formulation and legislative processes.