Legislative Ovesight:A Study Of Performance In Nigeria National Assembly

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Volume: | Pages: 260 | Year Published: 2015

Publisher: National Institute for Legislative Studies

Author: not available

Subject Matter
Legislative oversight, methods and tools that are employed by the legislature to hold the officials of the executive branch of government accountable for their actions

This book assesses the performance of the National Assembly (NASS) and shows an improvement from 2008 as NASS has used its powers increasingly to "prevent waste and fraud; protect civil liberties and individual rights; ensure executive compliance with the law; gather information for making laws and educating the public; and evaluate executive performance. In this book, different oversight tools and activities of committees in the National are appraised" - page xii

Gaps Identified
The gaps that were identified within this text book and the recommended remedies are identified seriatim below:
1. Chapter One-Conceptual Framework is well written, however, it is suggested that there should be inclusion of more reference to indigenous Nigerian text or authors on the subject-matter apart from Omotola (2014) that is cited at pg. 4 of the book.
2. Furthermore, considering that there is an assumption that the primary audience or readers of this book (and other books published by NILDS) are the legislators of the National Assembly, the book ought to be revised to tone down the diction by removing too many from high-sounding words and technical jargon that may not be easily understood by majority of legislators who are either "first-timers", first time members of the legislature or the majority of whom hold only the basic minimum educational qualification at the time of their election as legislators. These twin facts are admitted in several recent studies that demonstrate that confirm that majority of the legislators have lower educational qualifications. As recently as April 2017, the Speaker of the House of Representatives himself admitted that the high-rate of turn-over of National Assembly is negatively affecting the quality of legislation that is churned out by the National Assembly. This admission underlines the need for NILDS to revise the language and diction of this book in order to communicate effectively to its target audience-legislators. For example, at page 1 of the book, the expressions: "...vertical and horizontal accountability of all other government agencies to the one branch the legislature"[bold and italics mine] is used without providing an explanation of the terms "vertical and horizontal accountability".
3. Chapter 2 of the book is well written with references to the USA's Legislative Re-Organisation Act, 1946 & 1970 and the Congressional Budget Act, 1974 as examples of how the legislature can apply formal and legislative means to assert its oversight functions. At page 10 there is need to mention the specific sections of the STANDING ORDERS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES that relate to oversight powers of the legislature and how it is to be applied.
4. Chapter 3 of this book provides charts and graphical presentations of the methods and instruments of legislative oversight, this is very helpful for readers that are numerically literate, but not for majority of the legislators who are not so numerically literate. Also, at page 13 of this chapter, the words "ex-ante and ex-post" evaluation is used without providing an explanation of the words.
5. Chapter 4 is similar to chapter 3 as it contains more charts and graphs and the graphs at pages 23-31, 46 on the number of probes is very helpful, as well as page 54 public petitions. However, one instrument of oversight that is recently used that is not mention is the NASS OPEN WEEK event which is an event wherein members of the public and citizens are allowed access to the legislators to ask them any questions and receive answers.
6. Chapter 4 is repeated twice. The same repetition occurs as Chapter 5 is repeated twice in the book at page 113 and page 100.
7. The Annexures span from pages 119-257 it includes a list of all Bills enacted by both chambers of the National Assembly from the year 1999 to the year 2013. However, this appears to be a replication of information that is already in the public domain on the website of the NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: www.nass.gov.ng

It is recommended the original authors of this Revised Edition who are still members of staff of NILDS should undertake revision to bring this publication up-to-date.

Reviewer: Dr. Tonye Clinton Jaja

Rank: Senior Research Fellow


Date Of Commencement: not available

Date Of Completion: June 20, 2018