The Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA), Mr Ojo Amos, has stated that inadequate funding was inhibiting legislators from performing their oversight functions.
He made the remark at at a three-day capacity building workshop for directorate cadre staff of the Senate, in Abuja on Monday.
Amos said: “It is regrettable that funding has been inhibiting the activities of our committees, especially, in the area of effective oversight functions.
“In comparison to what is available as global best practice; committees should have vehicles, fully equipped secretariat and funds to conduct their activities.
“There must be diligent record keeping, for easy and quick referencing always, for the purpose of rendering smooth advice to the legislators; while there is need to formulate realistic annual work plans for the committees.
“It is imperative that the Senate, the highest legislative partner in Nigeria’s representative democracy, needs to continuously respond to rising expectations of its constituents.
“This is in order to be on top of its constitutional functions of representation, law making and other oversight duties”.
Amos said the internal workings of the parliament and relations with the other branches of government, especially the executive, were fundamental to the health of the National Assembly in Nigeria.
“Directors should be accountable to their committees and departments, because under our watch, we will not entertain any excuse, as we will not hesitate to apply the public service rules against any erring staff”.
The training was organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) for staff on the directorate level.
In his remarks, Director-General NILDS, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, said that the ability of the legislature to effectively deliver on its mandate depended on its human resources.
“Both legislators, but equally importantly, parliamentary staff, who provide essential support to legislators and their activities need capacity building workshops to enhance their jobs.
“Also, for effective parliaments, enhanced democracy, and generally to promote good governance and socio-economic development, there is need for capacity building of the staff.
“More so, staff are the backbone of the legislature, serving not only as engine-room but also the institutional memory of the Assembly”.
Sulaiman said that the workshop was designed following a needs assessment study conducted by the Clerk, Senate, in 2020, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In addition to that, the institute recognises the serious lacunae that opened up in the National Assembly following mass retirements in the last two years.
“This has made the need for training of staff even more necessary, to ensure smooth operations of the assembly particularly in core legislative areas such as chamber operations, among others”.
The director-general further said the institute had already lined up similar workshops for middle and low level cadre of the Senate’s staff on GL 12-14, GL 8-10 and GL 4-7.
He added that the trainings would also be extended to the staff of the House of Representatives.
Declaring the workshop open, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, noted that to achieve improved quality, the workshop needed to focus on directorate level staff of the senate, as a crucial cadre of the senate bureaucracy.
Represented by Senate Minority Whip, Sen. Philip Aduda, the senate president said the implication of this was the recognition that NILDS was concerned with not only the overall improvement of service delivery“ but a growth in the performance levels of different service grades.
“The NILDS training does not also imagine that we have not been hard working. It rather envisages avenues of improvement, aside from reminding us of new techniques in service delivery”, Lawan added. (NAN)