A document on how the National Assembly and the public can forge better relationship and understanding that will enhance democratic governance in the country has been unveiled in Abuja.
It is a product of a study initiated by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) on what Nigerians expect from the 9th National Assembly. The survey was conducted on behalf of the institute by a team led by the former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega.
According to a statement, respondents identified limited knowledge of the legislature and its activities, restriction of public hearings to a selected few, apathy to legislative processes, ignorance of the workings of the National Assembly and the impression that lawmakers are self-serving, among others, as some of the key issues that need to be addressed.
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The respondents urged the National Assembly to create dedicated outlets and channels through which it could send out information about its activities to the public. They also admonished the lawmakers to always put the interest of the entire country ahead of pecuniary interests.
“Improved accessibility to the National Assembly, lawmakers and venues of public hearing is key,” the document noted.At the public presentation of the document, the Director General of NILDS, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman, said the study attested to the fact that democracy is growing in Nigeria.
“That we are coming up with this study also attests to the fact that the National Assembly or legislature is the main epitome of democracy. What goes on there in terms of bills, in terms of law, decision and pronouncements are reflections of the wishes of the people and the constituencies,” Sulaiman said.
Prof. Peter Siyan of the Economics Department, University of Abuja, and member of the team that conducted the survey described the document as a compendium of detailed information about public expectation.
“It is very important and expected that all members of the National Assembly work with it,” he stated. At the event, NILDS also presented to the public its strategic plan for 2020 to 2024
which the Director of Administration and Human Resources of the institute, Dr. Kabir Ahmed, described as a very rare achievement.
Sulaiman said every society or organization that wants result must have a vision, clear cut objectives, and must have a road map.
“I must tell the whole world that some of these strategic plans which are sometimes the idea of the leadership of the National Assembly, but most importantly the idea of the populace, are being realised in one way or the other, especially with key reference to training of our staff, as well as bringing on board the sub national legislature.”