Executive dominance, killing legislative vibrancy in Nigeria, says DG.
The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Abuja, has in the last six months, trained 50 lawyers that would provide legislative support for incoming lawmakers in the 10th National and state Assemblies.
No fewer than 70 per cent of the current lawmakers in the National Assembly, most of whom are ranking members holding sensitive positions including chairmen of committees, had lost their bid to return following the outcome of the just concluded party primaries.
The development would obviously leave a vacuum for their successors to fill giving the fact that most of them are first timers who would need lots of support from technically trained legislative drafters.
The Director-General of NILDS, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, said the purpose of training lawyers for such purpose, was to equip federal and state assemblies with highly competent and professionally trained legislative drafters.
Sulaiman stated this Friday, at the closing ceremony of the second batch of the NILDS internship programme on Legislative Drafting in the nation’s capital.
He said the legislative drafters being trained lawyers would “add value to legislative drafting devoid of errors in any way, particularly the appropriate words and sentences to use in any piece of legislations, conceived, considered, passed and assented to into law”.
He charged the trained legislative drafters to exhibit the practical knowledge they had acquired at the institute wherever they might find themselves, either at the National or state Assemblies.
Sulaiman said: “In line with the now established practice, the Institute will provide letters of recommendation to the Clerk to the National Assembly, and Clerks of the 36 states’ Houses of Assembly where the skills you acquired here are most needed.
“Additionally, I have directed the setting up of a databank of all NILDS-trained drafters, which will be made available to new legislators during their induction in 2023.
“Often, newly elected members struggle to identify competent hands to work with them as senior legislative aides and drafters.” Meanwhile, the NILDS DG has said the required legislative vibrancy in Nigeria had over the years, been hampered by executive dominance.
Hes stated this in Abuja at the two-day capacity building workshop organised for clerks, deputy clerks and directors of legal departments, drawn from the National and state Houses of Assembly.
He noted with concern that the dominance had made the legislative arm to be subservient to the executive.
He said: “Traditionally, the historical disadvantage of the legislature in Nigeria has resulted in its subservience to the Executive.
“This has been further worsened by a culture of executive dominance.
“The relatively weaker position of the legislature vis – a – vis the other arms of government has not been helped by the high turnover rates that have been on the rise since 2003.
“The just concluded party primaries show this stark reality, with 80 per cent of legislators likely not to return in 2023.
“Over the years, this development has further undermined the legislature, eroded legislative capacity and diminished the confidence of the legislature as an institution.
“This reality places heavy demands on parliamentary staff, who constitute the institutional memory of of the legislature, making capacity building workshop of this nature for them, very necessary from time to time.”