By Mosunmola Ayobami, Kwara
The Director-General, National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Abuja, Professor Abubakar Sulaiman has challenged the legislative arm of government in Nigeria to strengthen its oversight function according to the constitutional provision in order not to be perceived as a mere appendage of the executive.
This is even as he said that ‘‘the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not advocate and support a total separation of power’’.
The NILDS’s DG made the submission at a lecture organized by the Kwara State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to mark the 59th independence anniversary of the country in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
The professor of political science who said the essence of separation of power is to prevent autocratic values regretted that Nigeria’s presidential constitution has devolved more powers to the executives than the legislators and the judiciary.
He added that something fundamental has to be done to the constitution in order to have autonomy for the legislative arm stressing that autonomy of the legislative arm as it is now is relative.
While asserting that the essence of NILDS is to strengthen the capacity of all actors in the democratic process by training and sensitization, he disclosed that the institute recently held a round table conference of all the 36 House of Assembly’s Speakers as well as compiled, reviewed the constitutional amendments among other things.
He, however, advocated for the cooperation between the legislators and the executives in order to have checks and balances as a way of sharing responsibilities encapsulated in the constitution.
‘‘This is because the President shares legislative power with the National Assembly and vice versa as he has to assent to bills before they could become laws while the National Assembly has to approve some appointments made by the President including that of the Head of Judiciary’’, he said.
Other areas that he advocated synergy between the Legislator and the Executives include budget, oversight functions, party caucuses.
He, however, identified some fundamental variables that have limited Legislators- Executives engagements in Nigeria such as restructuring, sharia, allocation formula, and others
Also in their separate submissions at the interactive session, the deputy chairman of Kwara state House Committee on Information, Hon. Felix Omotayo Awodiji and a member of the House Committee on Information, Hon AbdulGafar Olayemi, who took turn to explain the commitment of members of the 9th assembly to their oversight function, described the lecture as a good contribution to the quest for good governance.
Awodiji also explained that the return of Freedom of Information Bill to the House of Assembly for reexamination by Governor AbdulRahmon AbdulRasaq is meant to make the bill practicable and all-encompassing.
In his remarks, the Chairman, Kwara State Council of NUJ, Mr. Umar Abdulwahab, said the event was organized to interact with those in the helm of affairs at various institutions of government and private sector.
He noted that the objective of the forum was to bridge the existing gap between the institute, media professionals and members of the public with a view to promoting good governance.