**Commissions multi-billion naira NILDS
The successes recorded by my administration is due to the harmonious relationship between the Executive and the Legislature, President Muhammadu Buhari gave the indication on Thursday.
Buhari who spoke while officially commissioning the permanent site of National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) said his decision not to meddle with the affairs of the Legislature but promoted the culture of mutual respect and collaboration between the two arms also contributed to his successes
He expressed the optimism that the magnificent complex has the potential to significantly boost the capacity of the legislature in Nigeria and Africa at large.
He said: “As you are all aware, I have traversed all parts of Nigeria in the last few days commissioning several critical national infrastructures that my administration has completed over the last eight years. Our successes as a government are primarily due to the harmonious relationship between the Executive and the Legislature.
“The legislature is the cornerstone of any democracy and is vital to ensuring that the wishes and aspirations of all Nigerians are considered during the lawmaking process. It also performs 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.
“Our achievements in reforming the oil and gas sector, strengthening the electoral framework, diversifying our economy, improving transparency and accountability, tackling insecurity and entrenching good governance are easily verifiable. As such, this 9th Assembly will be remembered as one of the most productive in terms of outputs and outcomes. Again, I thank the Leadership of the National Assembly for giving me the support required to deliver on my promises to Nigerians.
“Nigeria is immensely endowed in many ways. However, our single greatest asset is the people of this country. Our teeming youth population provides the labour force, we need to industrialise and develop our economy. This underscores the need for a more sustained investment in human capacity development.
“Accordingly, my administration prioritised social investment programmes and a range of other initiatives to reduce poverty, upgrade the standard of living and improve the economy.
“Human capital is the essential lifeblood of a state and its public institutions, including the legislature. The National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly stand to perform their constitutionally assigned mandate better when provided with all the required resources.
“In 2018, I signed the NILDS Amendment Bill into law, thus expanding the mandate of the Institute to provide capacity not only to legislators but also to other political actors. This edifice would enable the Institute to better meet its expanded functions.
“It is my expectation that NILDS will utilise this site to provide targeted capacity building to legislators, political parties and civil society to enable them better respond to changing circumstances,” he noted.
In his remarks, Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan averted that Buhari’s administration over the past eight years pursued what has been described as the most ambitious infrastructure programme since independence in 1960.
“We in the Ninth National Assembly have supported the President in ensuring the timely delivery of these critical infrastructures. Notably, in the last three years, the Senate and the House dedicated a substantial part of the national budget towards funding infrastructure development across all six geo-political zones.
“As a result of this collaboration between the legislature and the executive, hundreds of roads, bridges and rail lines across Nigeria have been constructed or rehabilitated. In addition, we have also passed several legislations to provide an overarching framework for sustainable economic growth and development. Significantly also, the investment in infrastructure development extends to all six geo-political zones of the country.
“Indeed, history will remember President Buhari’s tenacity and unwavering commitment to charting a new course for Nigeria.”
While acknowledging that the time for the 9th Assembly to wind down draws to a close, Senator Lawan assured that the Assembly will “leave behind an enduring legacy for the succeeding Assemblies.
“I challenge the incoming Leadership and Members of the Tenth 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.”
On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila urged President Buhari to grant assent to both the Federal Audit Bill and National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABROl Bill which seeks to enhance the oversight function of Committees as critical legislative priorities as well as improve transparency and accountability in government processes.
While noting that the ability of the legislature to function effectively and hold the executive to account depends on its internal human and financial capacity, lamented that: “Over the years, the relatively weaker institutional capacity of the legislature has hampered its effectiveness both at the national but most notably at the state level.”
He however expressed delight that the Institute which is modelled on the Congressional Research Service (CRS) of the United States to fill this gap, has achieved a lot since its establishment.
Also speaking, NILDS Director General, Professor Olanrewaju Sulaiman observed that: “Despite 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.
“This expansive structure, state-of-the-art equipment, and facilities are game changers for NILDS. It will enable the Institute to undertake its programmes and activities without the constraint of space. Also, the absorptive capacity of the institute will be significantly enhanced.
“In the coming years, we 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.”
He also eulogized the roles played by successive leadership of National Assembly, especially, Senator David Mark who laid the foundation for this project, as well as Professor Ladi Hamalai who worked tirelessly towards actualising this permanent site.