By Gloria Ikibah
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Tajudeen Abbas has said that the 10th House will work in a more coordinated manner with development partners to improve the National Assembly.
Speaker Abbas gave the assurance at an interactive session with development partners and technical support organisations in on Monday in Abuja.
According to him, meeting was organised to share ideas and updates on contributions and support to the House on capacity development for Members and staff which many of the partners have been involved in for over a decade.
He said: “One of my cardinal policy thrusts, on assumption of office as Speaker of the House, is capacity development for Members and Staff of the House of Representatives. This has become more imperative following the high turnover rate of the 10th House of Representatives where we have over two hundred new Members with hundreds of Legislative Aides.
“This number of Members and Aides requires improved capacity to cope with the office's demands. Hence, institutional capacity development is considered one of the priority components of the Legislative Agenda of the 10th House.
“It is important to acknowledge the technical support some of you have been providing for the National Assembly. We recognize the support and contributions of the Development Partners. Your interventions have partly contributed to the success story of the Legislative Business of the House in the past. I hope that you will not do less even in this Assembly. The Legislative Agenda of the 10th House is the barometer to monitor and evaluate the engagement of the House with Nigerians and we expect that you will as usual play a critical role in the successful implementation of the Agenda.
“To us as the Representatives of the people, institution building is the gateway to professionalism, efficiency and productivity. We are committed to ensuring that the 10th House of Representatives can respond to the yearnings and expectations of the citizenry. We have been called to serve at the most critical period in the nation's political history. Therefore, it is only a committed Legislature which is properly equipped that will be able to deliver service to meet the expectations of the people”.
The Speaker also said that over the years, it has been observed that some partners have had to engage different Committees and Departments of the House of Representatives to organise programmes without a coordinated approach or needs assessment of the House.
“The assumption is that each development partner has its own area of focus for which budgetary provisions would have been made and their representatives in Nigeria would engage the relevant Committees of the House in that regard. While that support is greatly appreciated, there is a need for coordination in the 10th House because of our peculiar challenge of capacity gaps”, he said.
He further noted that he has considered the proposal for the creation of “A Programme Coordinating Unit (PMU) in his office to be supervised by the Special Adviser on Policy and Strategy.
“The purpose of the Unit is to ensure that all partnership programmes of the House are properly documented and utilised to bring about the desired change. The Unit is to provide guidance in line with the Legislative Agenda of the House for your technical support and partnerships. This is to ensure that all Committees and departments of the House receive necessary and equal attention”, Speaker Abbas stated.
“Looking at the Legislative Agenda, you would have observed the issues of Women in Parliament and Inclusion in Governance, Youth Empowerment, Constitution Review, Electoral Review and Institution building. This is meant to reinforce the legislative actions that started in the 9th House. However, we have recently added some Standing Committees to strengthen engagement with the people. We now have Committees on State and Local Government, Traditional Institutions and Petroleum Resources (Training Funds).
“We have also further increased the number of Parliamentary Friendship Groups to deepen relations with other parliaments to share knowledge and experiences in parliamentary practice and promote good governance. To underscore our disposition to serve Nigerians, we created a Committee on Monitoring and Evaluation of the Implementation of the Legislative Agenda as part of our internal mechanism to enforce compliance and also a Committee on Monitoring and Evaluation of the Standing Committees to ensure that there is efficiency and accountability in the business of the House. We are confident that working with you as partners in the development and sustenance of our democracy, the 10th House of Representatives will be a success story”, he noted.
In his response, a representative of the British High Commission, Mr Chris Okeke., said that the commission would continue to work with the National Assembly towards strengthening Democracy in Nigeria.
“Our goal really is to support you and the National Assembly along with building democratic and accountable instinct that works for Nigerians”, he said.
He assured that the commission is passionate about the involvement of women and youths in elections and the electoral process.
On his part, Mr. Simon Ridley of the UNDP, promised to continue to look for new ways of supporting the National Assembly.
Similarly, Ms. Marija Peran of Konrad Adenuer Stiftung, KAS, said that the agency is. convinced that the 10th assembly will leave a mark in the future.
According to her, KAS hopes to continue to collaborate in the area of capacity building.
Also the Senior Programme Executive, OrderPaper Advocacy Initiative, Mrs Regina Udoh, said that the agency has helped lawmakers to engage with their citizens on the way forward.
She added that they are looking towards collaborating with the 10th assembly in the area of electoral reforms.
Naijablitznews.com reports that present at the meeting were the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), Department for International Development (DFID), Konrade-Adenauer Foundation (kAS), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy (CISLAC), Order Paper, among others.