Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, has said the 10th House is committed to responding to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.
Abbas stated this at a roundtable with development partners including; Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), the Department for International Development (DFID), the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) at the National Assembly Complex in Abuja yesterday.
Others at the interface include, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), the Civil Society and Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), International Community on Red Cross (ICRC), Order Paper, among others.
He said: “To us as Representatives of the people, institution building is the gateway to professionalism, efficiency and productivity. We are committed to ensuring that the 10th House of Representatives can respond to the yearnings and expectations of the citizenry. We have been called to serve at the most critical period in the nation’s political history.”
Abbas noted that it is only a committed legislature, which is properly equipped, that will be able to deliver service to meet the expectations of the people, solicited the support of his hosts for capacity building of lawmakers and staff.
He said: “One of my cardinal policy thrusts, on assumption of office as Speaker of the House, is capacity development for members and staff of the House of Representatives.
This has become more imperative following the high turnover rate of the 10th House of Representatives where we have over two hundred new Members with hundreds of Legislative Aides.
“This number of members and aides requires improved capacity to cope with the offices’ demands. Hence, institutional capacity development is considered one of the priority components of the Legislative Agenda of the 10th House.”
The Speaker noted that the contributions of the technical partners are partly responsible for the success story of the legislative business of the National Assembly in the past, urging them to do more for the 10th Assembly.
He also noted that the Legislative Agenda of the 10th House is the barometer to monitor and evaluate the engagement of the House with Nigerians “and we expect that you will as usual play critical role in the successful implementation of the agenda.
“We have observed that over the years, some of you have had to engage different committees and departments of the House of Representatives to, sometimes, organise programmes without a coordinated approach or NEEDS ASSESSMENT of the House.
“The assumption is that each development partner has its own area of focus for which budgetary provisions would have been made, and their representatives in Nigeria would engage the relevant Committees of the House in that regard. While that support is greatly appreciated, there is need for coordination in the 10th House because of our peculiar challenge of capacity gaps.
The Speaker said it is on this note that he considered the proposal for the creation of a Programme Monitoring Unit (PMU) in his office to be supervised by the Special Adviser on Policy and Strategy.
“The purpose of the unit is to ensure that all partnership programmes of the House are properly documented and utilised to bring about the desired change. The unit is to provide guidance in line with the Legislative Agenda of the House for your technical support and partnerships. This is to ensure that all Committees and departments of the House receive necessary and equal attention,” he said.
The development partners, in their separate remarks, expressed readiness to offer more technical assistance to the National Assembly in various thematic areas including electoral laws, legislative processes and law-making, training and capacity building, among others.
They also suggested that a technical session be organised by the PMU where all stakeholders would deliberate and come up with a policy document on how they assist in the design and implementation of the 10th House Legislative Agenda, an idea that the Speaker welcomed and directed should be implemented.