• Thursday December 10, 2020 14:09 PM
  • NILS Press Corps

In the remarks by the Director General of NILDS Prof. Abubakar O. Sulaiman during a capacity building programme organised for Research Fellows of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), he stated emphatically that he appreciated the Management of the Institute and Governing Council, chaired by the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan and the Alternate Chairman, Speaker, House of Represenntatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila as well as the Federal Republic of Germany and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) for being a valuable partner this past year and for collaborating with the Institute, not only to deliver the workshop but other strategic capacity building interventions for State Houses of Assembly and security-based committees of the House of Representatives.
"Through the collaboration, major milestones have been achieved in 2020, the DG reiterated. He pointed out that the workshop is the first of its kind in the history of the Institute, specifically designed for researchers and core academic staff, and it came at a very auspicious moment when the Institute took stock of its activities and performance in the course of the last one year.
"Indeed, as the records showed, we have exceeded all expectations particularly given the challenge posed by the covid-19 pandemic which disrupted work plans and prevented us from achieving some targets, especially in the area of local and international training. In the core areas of our operations, however, the Institute continued to function despite the pandemic with some remarkable results", he posited.

Professor Sulaiman underscored the performance records from various departments of the Institute which showed that over the last eleven months, the Institute drafted 119 and analysed another 267. Additionally, the Institute drafted 91 motions bills, 52 briefs of argument and also carried out 32 bill scrutiny, 30 policy analysis and 34 other research-related activities. These specialised outputs were targeted at providing technical support to respond to emerging issues during the pandemic.
He further noted that the Institute produced several policy briefs that include: Impact of COVID-19 on the Economy, Phased Plan for Re-Opening the Economy and Strategies on Re-Opening of Schools. Only recently, put together oversight questions to enable the National Assembly properly scrutinise the activities and expenditure of MDAs during the period of emergency.
NILDS also initiated a book project on the political economy of the pandemic and its implication for Nigeria. He also explained that the book has been finalised and will be presented to the Governing Council at the next meeting scheduled for 15th December, 2020.

He further made it clear that in the area of training, despite the serious challenges posed by COVID-19, sixteen national training programmes for legislators were conducted as against the targeted nine. He said, in line with his vision to expand the frontier of the Institute and increase its visibility at the sub-national level, nine training programmes have been conducted for states across the six geo-political zones. The work plan target was one which was exceeded by eight. This was greatly enhanced through the collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS).

He clarified that “Efforts extended to legislative staff where four national programmes were targeted but eight were implemented. While three international training were successfully conducted for staff.
"Our performance in training for legislative staff also exceeded all previous records as we implemented eighteen programmes. One of the priority areas for the Governing Council is the capacity development of legislative aides. We successfully trained 300 legislative aides, out of the initially planned 1000”,Prof Sulaiman said.

The DG stressed that in response to the realities of the time, the institute adapted its approach and focused more on the use of electronic platforms to conduct most of our training and capacity building engagements, where it conducted a total of Twenty three virtual workshops, webinars and interactive sessions. Other milestones achieved by the Institute this year include the work on the Petroleum Industry Bill which is assisting the National Assembly in their deliberation of this important piece of legislation.
Furthermore, the Institute has commissioned another book project on “20 Years of Democracy” to analyse Nigeria’s democratic journey so far and to draw lessons from challenges faced as a way of deepening our growing democracy.

He laid emphasis on adopting more innovative measures in the coming year to build a competent workforce that can quickly deliver on the various targets and demands. This effort should be complemented through some internal capacity building activities. He encouraged all departments to incorporate departmental seminars as a way of strengthening the capacity of staff in specific areas.
He informed that the tradition of Institute-wide seminar and lecture series will be revived and expanded in 2021 to bring highly-rated scholars and practitioners to share perspectives with research. Furthermore, to encourage staff to always excel, the Institute will henceforth recognise and reward the best researcher of the year. This practice will be institutionalised to encourage excellence among all research staff.

He also revealed that plans with KAS have been finalised to introduce an internship programme for staff of the Institute at the research arm of the German Bundestag to expose them to good practices in providing legislative support services. Besides, plans are underway for the Institute, in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office and The Africa Politeia Institute to host a National Youth Confab in March 2021. This will be geared towards bringing youths (about 940 of them) across Nigeria to lend their voices to national issues, engaging stakeholders on potential policy and legislative actions and recommending these actions for implementation.
The choice of NILDS to host this confab is premised on its track record of providing high quality academic and training programmes and as such, driving such an initiative through the Institute will give it a non-partisan, non-ethnic and non-biased outlook and the recommendations can be seen to reflect an impartial view of the way forward for the country.

The DG said only recently, the Governing Council approved NILDS' Strategic Plan for 2020-2024 which has seven (7) Strategic Goals that include to (1) strengthen the capacity of legislators and staff; (2) provide insightful, innovate research and analysis; (3) deepen democratic values and promote democratic inclusion. Others are: (4) strengthen the organisational capability of the Institute; (5) strengthen partnerships and outreach; (6) improve utilisation of information and communication technology and (7) effective resource generation and management.

He, therefore, urged all the staff and stakeholders to work together to take the Institute to greater heights.