By EricJames Ochigbo
President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the permanent site of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) in Abuja.
Speaking at the ceremony on Thursday in Abuja, Buhari said he had traversed the country in the last few days commissioning critical national infrastructure completed by his administration.
“Our successes as a government are primarily due to the harmonious relationship existing between the Executive and the Legislature,” he said.
Buhari said that legislature was the cornerstone of any democracy and was vital to ensuring that the wishes and aspirations of all Nigerians were considered during the lawmaking process.
He said the Legislature also perform critical functions of overseeing the Executive and ensuring that government spending aligns with legislative intent.
“As you are aware, from the moment of my election in 2015 and subsequently, I supported the idea of an independent National Assembly, one that is able to decide its Leadership and develop its agenda in line with the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“I refrained from meddling in the affairs of the legislature and promoted instead a culture of mutual respect and collaboration between the two arms.
“The numerous positive outcomes for our country Nigeria underscore the importance of a harmonious Executive-Legislature relationship.
“Working with the National Assembly, we have passed an unprecedented number of Bills into law, provided funding for key infrastructure, implemented several governmental reforms, and addressed some of the long-standing challenges that have hampered economic growth and development,” Buhari said.
President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan said that a new chapter in the institute’s history had begun.
He said that the edifice wss geared toward positioning the institute to deliver more effectively on its mandate and reach a wider audience.
“This complex opens up immense opportunities for the insttitute to consolidate and expand its existing programmes and strengthen its position as the centre of legislative and democratic excellence.
“I congratulate and thank all those who have contributed to the realisation of this lofty dream.As the 9th Assembly draws to a close, we leave behind an enduring legacy for the succeeding Assembly.
“I challenge the incoming Leadership and members of the 10th National Assembly to carry on with the same vigour and dedication as we did and build on our achievements.
“I call on the Director-General, Management and staff of the Institute to utilise this edifice to advance democracy in Nigeria and beyond,” he said.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila said that the ability of the legislature to function effectively and hold the executive to account depended on its internal human and financial capacity.
He said over the years, the relatively weaker institutional capacity of the legislature had hampered its effectiveness both at the national but most notably, at the state level.
“The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, which is modelled on the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the United States, was established to fill this gap.
“However, to perform this critical and daunting function, the institute requires a custom-built facility as well as the requisite professional workforce.
“Whereas NILDS has achieved a lot with regard to the latter, today, we make the former a reality,” he said.
The Director-General of NILDS, Prof. Abubakar Suleiman, said since its establishment in 2011 by an Act of the National Assembly, the Institute had been operating from its temporary offices in Maitama.
He said that the constraint in space and other requisite resources had severely hampered the operations and activities of the institute.
“This is even more so considering the steady growth and expansion of the Institute and its programmes, which include postgraduate diplomas and degrees in specialised fields such as legislative studies and drafting.
“In spite of these challenges, the Institute has established itself as Africa’s premier legislative capacity-building institution, as attested by its highly valued services and outputs.
“In the past decade, NILDS has considerably closed the capacity challenges that have limited the effectiveness of the legislature in Nigeria.
“Moreover, through its various programmes and interventions, the lawmaking and oversight functions of the legislature have also been significantly strengthened,” he said.
He said that the permanent site was equipped with a library, lecture hall, staff offices, board room, auditorium and other required facilities.
Suleiman said that in the coming years, NILDS shall continue to lead in capacity-strengthening, teaching and research, providing support services to the legislature and other democratic institutions, generating innovations and promoting democratic ethos. (NAN)