Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, said the National Assembly had made appreciable efforts in fulfilling its democratic obligations to Nigerians by paying particular attention to capacity-building.
Dogara stated this on Thursday at the third matriculation of the National Institute of Legislative Studies (NILS)/University of Benin Postgraduate Programme at the National Assembly, Abuja.
He explained that parliamentary capacity development was important to ensure balance of power among the branches of a democratic system – Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
He said that the trio constituted mechanism of checks and balances essential to sustainable progress and economic growth and development in the country.
The speaker said that it was common knowledge in parliaments across the world that nothing hindered the delivery of the promise of democracy more than lack of capacity.
He commended NILS/UNIBEN for the programmes designed to build capacity of legislative staff.
He said that the knowledge imparted to participants would build a pool of competent staff and members to enhance international best practices in the discharge of their 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.
“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.
“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.
“It is also in 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,’’ he said.
Dogara congratulated the students and some of the icons of the legislature who were honoured with Fellowship of National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS).
He said that the fellowship award was in recognition of their contributions to the growth and development of the legislature in Nigeria.
Those awarded with Fellows of NILS were former Presidents of the Senate, Joseph Wayas and Ken Nnamani, former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba and Aminu Masari.