Senate President Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, admonished the executive arm of government to always adhere to democratic principles of democracy to enhance fairness and accountability in governance.
The duo stated this yesterday in Abuja, during the opening ceremony of the National Assembly Open Week facilitated by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILS).
Saraki said both the legislature and executive “must strive to adhere to certain fundamental principles that include accountability which implies adhering to constitutionally defined powers and responsibilities.”
According to him, “It is important that we conduct the affairs of government in a transparent manner and ensure that all political representatives are truly accountable to the electorate at all times.”
He further stated that the popularly saying about democracy that it is of the people, by the people and for the people can only be so if the people are provided with the information they need to more actively participate in governance.
“We recognise that it is our job as lawmakers to ensure that Nigerians are carried along in the law making process. It is our mandate to drive public policy that will improve the well being of Nigerians. Staying in touch with our constituents will allow us to track the performance of these policies, and this feedback can be used to fine tune or amend these policies,” Saraki said.
However, Speaker Dogara while making his remark said that Nigerians do not quite understand the functions of the parliament and often misunderstood its role in a democracy.
He explained that the legislature is the paramount arm of government because the whole idea of limited government and representative democracy begins and ends with law making and execution of laws.
“This reality has not dawned on many Nigerians mainly because of our Military era experiences during which the elected Legislature was always disbanded, at the slightest sound of martial music,” he stated.
He, however, expressed hope that the open week will enlighten Nigerians more about the workings of parliaments and other related activities.
“It is my hope that the new phase of openness that is being launched today will afford the people of Nigeria the opportunity to better understand the workings of the Legislature in proper perspectives. I say this because many Nigerians do not quite understand the functions of the Parliament in carrying out its constitutionally assigned roles and responsibilities.
“The Parliament does its works through Legislation, Representation and Oversight. Through Legislation, we make Laws for the peace, order and good governance of the country. Through Representation, we advance the particular interests of the people of our constituencies and the interests of Nigerians generally, while through Oversight, we oversee or monitor the activities of the other Arms of Government,” he said.
He also reaffirmed the resolve of the Nigerian Parliament to uphold the principle of Openness as contained in the declaration of parliamentary openness at the World e-parliament Conference in 2012.
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