REMARKS BY RT. HON. YAKUBU DOGARA AT THE 3RD MATRICULATION CEREMONY OF NILS-UNIBEN POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMME
REMARKS BY SPEAKER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, RT. HON. YAKUBU DOGARA, AT THE 3RD MATRICULATION CEREMONY OF NILS-UNIBEN POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMME ON THURSDAY, 12TH OCTOBER, 2017 AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Permit me to welcome you all to this third matriculation ceremony of the NILS-UNIBEN Postgraduate Programme and to congratulate both the students and some of the icons of the legislature being honoured today with Fellowship of National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS). They are their Excellencies, Dr Joseph Wayas, Senator Ken Nnamani, GCON, Rt. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’Abba, CFR, Rt Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, CFR. This honour is being bestowed on these leaders because of their contributions to the growth and development of the Legislature in Nigeria.
2. Ladies and gentlemen, on this occasion of the 3rd Matriculation of NILS-UNIBEN, I wish to commend NILS’s partner, University of Benin (UNIBEN) for sustaining this partnership which is steadily contributing in boosting the intellectual and technical capacity of the Legislature. It is even more gladdening to note that the relationship is not only being sustained but also significantly reinforced with the addition of more programs and certifications. At present, the three postgraduate programs namely, Parliamentary Administration, Legislative Studies, and Legal Drafting are being run in addition to the Postgraduate Diploma programs designed to complement the various Master programs. This proactive action of the partners has provided adequate opportunity to advance the field of knowledge in Legislative Studies. This ceremony attests therefore to the growing maturity of the programme and its ever growing influence in building the capacity of legislators, legislative staff and aides for effective service delivery.
3. I am very delighted to learn that National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) is also developing other National Diploma Programmes to address the need of the lower and middle-level staff requirement of not only the National Assembly but legislatures generally. This will build a pool of competent staff and Members to enhance international best practices in the discharge of our duties. The point must be made that it is knowledge that animates parliaments all over the world while nothing stultifies the promise of democracy more than an intellectually hollow Parliament.
4. As I have done so many times in the past, I enjoin staff and legislative aides to take full advantage of the NILS-UNIBEN Postgraduate Programmes to build their respective capacities and in turn contribute in improving our efficiency as a parliament. The programmes are unique in that they are designed to meet the specific needs of the Legislature by focusing on all areas of legislative operations, processes and procedures. The scholar-practitioner approach adopted also guarantee that there is a robust link between theory and practice. This course delivery approach enables students, many of whom are staff of the National Assembly and its agencies, to apply the knowledge gained during the course of studies to real life situations in their respective places of work.
5. I congratulate the National Institute for Legislative Studies for maintaining the momentum and for insisting on the highest standards comparable to what obtains in other such institutions around the world. Indeed, strong parliaments rely on strong organisational structures and effective administrative and management support services to excel. The National Assembly places a strong premium on the building and strengthening of Research and Support Services to increase legislative effectiveness of individual legislators, legislative Committees, and the legislature as an institution, as well as support key processes and systems that can contribute to increased parliamentary efficiency and transparency.
6. We note that by paying particular attention to capacity strengthening, the National Assembly has made appreciable progress in fulfilling its democratic obligations. The capacity of the National Assembly to make laws, review existing laws and perform legislative oversight and representative roles has been significantly enhanced and the technical capacity of staff and legislative aides is progressively being strengthened and expanded.
7. These legislative responsibilities have become even more critical since the coming into operation of the 1999 Constitution as demonstrated by the robust role being played by the Legislature in our democracy and the movement towards an open society in which citizens participate more in matters of national importance, contribute in decision-making processes and demand greater accountability on the part of political office holders.
Oversight by strong democratic institutions, of which the legislature is key, helps governments to achieve higher efficiency, reduce corruption, and lower fiscal deficits. Hence, parliamentary capacity development, is very important to ensure the balance of power between the branches of a democratic system – the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, which enables the mechanism of checks and balances essential to sustainable economic growth and development.
8. However, this progress is still at an early stage, and development of technical capacity as well as processes to deepen institutional effectiveness take considerable time and continuous effort. Sufficient time and resources are needed to consolidate these gains made by the legislature. I wish to re-state the commitment of the 8th National Assembly to continue to support the Institute in its goal of being a regional center of excellence in legislative education, not only in Nigeria but the West African Sub region. We shall continue to encourage collaboration with relevant International Organizations and bodies to promote international best practices in our legislative system and processes.
9. Let me conclude by once again congratulating the Matriculating students for another milestone in their academic pursuit. Your admission to the prestigious NILS/UNIBEN Postgraduate studies is significant because it attests to your hard work, diligence and past academic preparation. I charge you therefore to use the unique opportunities provided by the NILS-UNIBEN PG Programmes to sharpen your knowledge, skills and experiences so as to meet the global challenges in your various field of endeavour. I must remind you all that we live in a complex and dynamic global environment, where the quality of legislative outputs are dependent on well researched, articulated and empirically based work. I therefore wish you all a fruitful academic pursuit in your postgraduate studies. I also look forward to the successful completion of your different programmes within the stipulated time.
10. To Members and Staff of National Assembly present here as well as the press, the academia and array of distinguished personalities, I wish to appreciate you all for coming and pray that our collective aspiration for a greater Nigeria shall be accomplished in no time. May the Nigeria of our dream appear as sudden as the dawn appears!
11. Thank you all for listening and may God bless all of you and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.