Saraki, Dogara, Others Laud The National Institute For Legislative and Democratic Studies as it Holds 2nd Convocation.
The President of the Senate and Chairman NILDS Governing Council, Sen. Bukola Saraki expressed pleasure at NILDS continued growth into a centre of excellence, contributing to the strengthening of democracy in Nigeria. Speaking during the 2nd Convocation Ceremony of the NILDS/UNIBEN Postgraduate Programme on Monday, October 22, 2018 at the National Assembly complex, Dr. Saraki stated that it is no more arguable that an effective legislature is essential to democracy, the rule of law, human rights, as well as economic and social development.
"There is no gainsaying the fact that the core legislative, oversight and representative functions of the legislature provide an essential contribution to the quality of our democracy and governance as a whole" he said.
He further informed that the 8th National Assembly has played a greater role in policy formulation and has engaged more robustly with the Executive at the various stages of policy formulation. This according to him stems from the conviction that the task of nation-building must be a collective one, which requires sacrifices on the part of the individual. In addition, he stated that Most of the legislative measures the leadership of the National Assembly has pursued since 2015 has been targeted at driving productivity, easing access to finance, creating jobs and improving livelihoods.
He added that Legislative proposals in this area are focused on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), particularly in reducing regulatory burdens and easing access to capital, with the objective of having a large number of sustainable fast-growing small and mid-size businesses. "We have also taken legislative action to tackle tax avoidance and evasion, to encourage compliance with tax obligations by all persons" he mentioned.
Furthermore, Sen. Saraki informed that under his leadership the legislature has shown commitment to the need to develop the nation's education sector, with a special focus on improving the quality of primary and secondary education, which have suffered from lack of investment and infrastructural provision. He added that it is their vision to see to the attainment of 100 per cent literacy rate for Nigerian children age 12 . He added at the Senate very recently amended the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Act to ensure that the 2% budgetary allocation to Universal Basic Education Commission by the Central Government is increased to 3%. Moreover, he harped on capacity building, noting that it is long established that human capital is essential for boosting productivity, pivotal to economic growth and the resilience of economies. "A country's human capital is mainly built through the education system, which has major implications for the individual and society at large. At the individual level, getting educated and acquiring skills makes people more productive, and productivity gains inevitably translate into wage increases. At the macro level, a well-educated workforce drives economic growth, higher productivity, and advances the innovative capacity of a society – all of which lead to an increase in the standard of living", he said.
Speaking also at the Convocation ceremony, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara stated that what is expected of any advanced legislature goes beyond the traditional role of representation, law-making and oversight. The legislature in Nigeria must serve a greater purpose within wider national democratization processes. He noted that over the last two decades, the National Assembly has transitioned from being the weaker institution to become strong and capable agents of change. "We have taken proactive roles to amend constitution and bills and reform antiquated structures inherited from the military. Our activism in the area of law-making is attested to by the unprecedented record we have set in the area of law-making" he emphasized.
Also, he maintained that quality education is the foundation to improving people’s lives and sustainable development and must form the basis of our national development plan; this, he said has been sufficiently reflected in the effort of 8th House to reform and improve the education sector by pushing through the necessary legislation that will ensure that Nigeria is strategically positioned to favourably compete with others in a fast changing world. "Our intervention in the education sector has not been limited to increasing annual budgetary allocation but also has included upgrading, conversion and establishment of tertiary institutions" he informed.
Furthermore, Rt. Hon. Dogara stated that on all counts the NILDS has been a remarkable success story as demonstrated by this 2nd convocation ceremony. He opined that the Institute's autonomous and non-partisan structure has gone a long way in making it a credible centre for the training of legislators and staff. Secondly, it is strategically placed to identify needs of the legislature and provide timely up-to-date, accurate and well-researched information for effective decision-making by the legislature.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by the Minister of State, Education, lauded NILDS for its giant strides in building capacity of lawmakers and legislative staff. He stated that an important component of the National Policy on Education is improving the quality of tertiary education to meaningfully contribute to national development through the intensification and diversification of degree programmes for the development of high level manpower within the context of the needs of the nation.
He added that it is in this regard that the efforts of the NILDS assumes a larger national significance. The Minister observed that specialized nature of the programmes offered by the Institute makes it ideal for public service officials particularly those in the legislature and related fields to deepen their knowledge and expand their skills-set.
Thus, these programmes fill an important gap in providing continuing education for public service officials in selected areas and courses not readily available in the mainstream academic institutions.
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