NILDS And Matters Miscellaneous


  • Thursday December 12, 2019 15:20 PM
  • NILS Press Corps
There is no doubt that there are technicalities and intricacies in the discharge of the mandate of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), this is associated with the complexities and the somewhat recondite nature of some of the legislative duties which require proper grounding and versatile understanding of the nuances and intrigues of legislative duties and activities.

To be able to function productively in this capacity, therefore, requires the parliamentarians to draw from their wealth of experience, which comes to the fore, by way of regular training and invaluable research, which NILDS provides. and, for NILDS to be at its very best, using the cutting edge of technology, it means that the institute must be properly funded, so that, the trainer can also be effectively retrained for qualitative services and output.
In the same vein, profound researches also requires very good funding; no doubt, NILDS will need all the financial assistance it can get to be able to discharge its duties and responsibilities unhindered.

It is important to note that the role of committees in the legislative process; committees are an essential part of the legislative process. Committees monitor on-going governmental operations, identify issues suitable for legislative review, gather and evaluate information, and recommend courses of action to the parliament. These certainly needs a lot of training to enhance maximum competences, as there are different types of committees performing contrasting functions and having variegated procedures and processes to be able to deal with the concomitant technicalities and complexities, these are not things that occur by happenstance, rather there must be a well-planned and sustained programmatic trends of event in training and research to impact the right kind of knowledge required.

NILDS as a think-tank for the legislature is a right step in the right direction, as this will enable legislature to work in close collaboration with the executive, for instance, in the 8th National Assembly there was so much bickering and rocking of the boat between the executive and legislative arms of government, which unfortunately disturbed the smooth running of government.
However, with the 9th National Assembly, the relationship has drastically changed for the better for the two very crucial arms of government, the executive and legislature are working together harmoniously, this is one of the critical areas of intervention by NILDS through the organization of short courses for the legislators.

Also, in the 8th National Assembly, budgets were not expeditiously considered, there were accusations and counter-accusations of budget padding and of under the table deals, which usually affects the overall performance of the budget; in the current 9th National Assembly, in budget consideration and deliberations, the areas of friction and disagreement have been significantly narrowed down, while the budget is swiftly but thoroughly perused and passed to foster national development. It would even be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari authorised ministers, heads of agencies, parastatals and departments not to travel until they have defended their budget proposals before the National Assembly, so that, there is a new lease of life in the relationship between the two arms of government, which means that NILDS is on top of its game by providing the requisite training and research for the legislators.

Another area that use to be a grey or knotty area that caused frosty relationship between the two arms of government has to do with the confirmation of appointments forwarded to the legislature by the executive in the last dispensation, the legislature is almost always diametrically opposed to the executive by not confirming and out-rightly rejecting appointments. While it is not being advocated that the legislature should be pliable and malleable or even dance recklessly to the tunes of the executive; it must have a cordial working relationship and harmonious co-existence to facilitate flawless and good governance in the polity.
This is because where two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers and development would be stunted.

We have also seen a situation in this republic where a democratically elected but very strong executive president forcibly removed several senate presidents and we have seen a situation where a speaker was also removed and also seen where a speaker also resisted his removal, as animosities, mutual distrust, concealed hostility and belligerent disposition was the order of the day then, in the relationship between the executive and legislature.

Therefore, the incontrovertible role of NILDS, which it has not failed or hesitated to carry out, is to make the legislators perform their mandates exceedingly well, knowing their rights, privileges, duties, powers and the limitations of their authorities in different circumstances. The chief purpose of NILDS, therefore, is to ensure that the parliaments and parliamentarians function unfettered, unburdened and unrestricted in an atmosphere of tranquility with other legal stakeholders in the polity through the instrumentality of training, research and constant consultation.

One of the very important things that will extensively improve the productivity of NILDS is the planned move to its permanent site because presently the institute is using different rented buildings for offices, library, departments and other things, but in the permanent site, all the operations of the institute will be done within the same premises, it is this enabling and ennobling environment that will assist in no small measure to boost the morale of staff and management as well as stand the institute in a good stead to function creditably well.

As a matter of course, democracy is based on the notion that people should be self-governing and that the representatives of the people be held accountable for their dithering, actions and inaction. For stability and good governance to be achieved, some degree of cooperation and understanding amongst the three arms is expected. The role of the legislature, as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution; the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria outlines the powers of the legislative arm of government, which is divided into two houses: the Senate (Upper Chamber) and the House of Representatives (Lower Chamber). In line with this, every state within the country has a legislative branch (the State House of Assembly), which acts in a similar fashion to the federal legislative branch. Section 4 (1) of the Constitution provides that the “legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.

The Section continued: “(2) The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution. (3) The power of the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List shall, save as otherwise provided in this Constitution, be to the exclusion of the Houses of Assembly of States.

“(4) In addition and without prejudice to the powers conferred by subsection (2) of this section, the National Assembly shall have power to make laws with respect to the following matters, that is to say: (a) any matter in the Concurrent Legislative List set out in the first column of Part II of the Second Schedule to this Constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto; and (b) any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. (5) If any Law enacted by the House of Assembly of a State is inconsistent with any law validly made by the National Assembly, the law made by the National Assembly shall prevail, and that other Law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

With respect to the State, the legislative power of the States House of Assembly is provided under section 6 and 7 of the Constitution as: “(6) The legislative powers of a State of the Federation shall be vested in the House of Assembly of the State. (7) The House of Assembly of a State shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the State or any part thereof with respect to the following matters, that is to say: (a) any matter not included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part I of the Second Schedule to this Constitution; (b) any matter included in the Concurrent Legislative List set out in the first column of Part II of the Second Schedule to this Constitution to the extent prescribed in the second column opposite thereto, and (c) any other matter with respect to which it is empowered to make laws in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.

In simple terms, the legislature performs three basic roles or functions- lawmaking, representation and oversight functions. So, the National Assembly in Nigeria is expected to make laws, carry out representative functions on behalf of the people, who in this, are demarcated in 109 senatorial districts and 360 federal constituencies and exercise oversight functions on the executive arm to ensure the government is held accountable to the people from where it derives its sovereignty.

Hence, NILDS help the legislature to perform this function effectively through training, research and regular interactions with the parliamentarians in the three tiers of government in the country. In the 21st Century, there is growing interest more than ever before in issues related to democracy and good governance around the world.
This is a reflection of the increasing acceptance of the fact that democracy and good governance are not a luxury, but a fundamental requirement to achieve sustainable development. Parliaments as one of the key state institutions in a democratic system of governance have a critical role to play in promoting democracy and good governance. As the democratically elected representatives of the people, parliaments have the honourable task to ensure government by the people and for the people. In the performance of their key functions of legislation, representation and oversight parliaments can actively engage in the development and implementation of laws, policies and practices that promote democracy and good governance; and this what NILDS helps the parliament in Nigeria to achieve.

Capacity building has been found to be a strong tool for effective legislation and should be seen as a continuing process and not a one-off thing. Also, when citizens feel that their views are represented in government and their representative bear constituents` interests in mind, they are not only encouraged to participate in the legislative process, but also accept the legislature to enact legislation and the executive to implement and enforce it. A legislator must be available and accessible to the public. He or she must report back to the constituents on what is happening in Assembly.

Although the constituents deviate in their expectations from the fundamental responsibilities of legislature, nevertheless, a good legislator must create a functional Constituency Office and maintain constant visit to his or her constituency to establish a workable relationship with the constituents for constant consultation and as a feedback mechanism for proper representation. Through Constituency Office, members of the public can approach elected legislators and make constructive input in the legislative process as it affects them; these are some of the instructions passed across by NILDS in the discharge of its functions.

By
Jide Ayobolu