EndSars: NILDS DG Calls For Institutional Reforms Through NASS
By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah
The Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, Prof. Abubakar O. Sulaiman has commended the leadership of the National Assembly led by the President of the Senate, distinguished Sen. Ahmad Lawan, PhD and Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila for its intervention in the #ENDSARS protests that have been ongoing in the country for over twelve days.
According to a statement by NILDS media office ,Prof. Sulaiman made the commendation during his keynote address at the capacity building workshop organized by the Institute for Members of the Enugu State House of Assembly on Monday in Enugu.
Recall that after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, called on #EndSARS protesters to discontinue with the ongoing nationwide protest. The two presiding officers of the National Assembly hinged their call on the fact that the Federal Government had accepted the five-point demand of the protesters.
The DG said it is widely accepted that the legislature has an important role to play in strengthening democratic governance particularly in developing countries like Nigeria. “The centrality of the legislature to good governance has never been more important than now. In the past few weeks, we have witnessed growing protests, largely of young people, demanding institutional reforms and good governance”.
He stated ”Their clamour has brought to the surface some fundamental problems facing our country today including rising levels of insecurity, employment and under-employment and economic decline. Most of the grievances expressed by these exasperated youths can be addressed, in some measure, by the legislature.
“Only on Sunday, the President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmad Lawal, Ph.D., CON and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, met with the President to discuss measures to address the complaints and demands of the protesters. He stressed that this clearly demonstrates an acceptance of the role that the legislature can play in driving institutional reforms in Nigeria.
According to him, “many of the problems faced require review and reform of existing legal frameworks to conform to modern realities and standards”. He noted that despite the centrality of the legislature in promoting good governance and addressing the myriad societal problems, there is need to first of all strengthen the institution of the legislature itself.
“The institutional and capacity deficits that characterise the legislature are well known and include poor funding, executive overreach, high turnover rates, poor public perception, limited technical expertise and inadequate access to information. “All these severely impede the ability of the legislature in Nigeria to perform optimally, particularly in the discharge of its oversight mandate.
Prof. Sulaiman explained that that despite the landmark fourth constitutional alteration that granted autonomy to the state legislature and judiciary, only a few states have fully operationalised financial independence.
“Overall, there has been reluctance and sometimes outright refusal by some Governors to comply with the provisions of the new law. This has led to heated debates, high level advocacy, antagonism and feuds between the Governors’ Forum and the Conference of Speakers”.
He appealed to all Governors, to engage constructively with State Assemblies towards full implementation of legislative autonomy.
“This is vital to protecting our nascent democracy, entrenching the separation of powers envisaged in our Constitution and ultimately necessary for good governance”.
The DG urged State Assemblies to continue to advocate and interface with the executive in this regard.