The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon Abbas Tajudeen, Ph.D, has stated that the 10th House is committed to responding to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians.
“To us as 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,” the Speaker said at a roundtable with development partners of the National Assembly at his office in Abuja on Monday.
Speaker Abbas noted that it is only a committed legislature, which is properly equipped, that will be able to deliver service to meet the expectations of the people.
At the meeting were representatives of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), the Department for International Development (DFID), the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL), the Civil Society and Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), International Community on Red Cross (ICRC), Order Paper, among others.
On the side of the House were chairmen of relevant House committees and principal staff members of the Office of the Speaker.
While noting that it was the first time his office would be having a direct interface with the development partners, the Speaker said the interactive meeting was organised to provide an opportunity to share ideas and updates on your contributions and support to the House on capacity development for members and staff.
Speaker Abbas 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 offices’ demands. Hence, institutional capacity development is considered one of the priority components of the Legislative Agenda of the 10th House.”
The Speaker noted that the contributions of the technical partners are partly responsible for the success story of the legislative business of the National Assembly in the past, urging them to do more for the 10th Assembly.
He also noted that 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 critical role in the successful implementation of the agenda.”
Speaker Abbas said: “We have observed that over the years, some of you have had to engage different committees and departments of the House of Representatives to, sometimes, 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 need for coordination in the 10th House because of our peculiar challenge of capacity gaps.
“It is on this note that I have considered the proposal for the creation of a Programme Monitoring Unit (PMU) in my 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.”
Representatives of the development partners, in their remarks, also expressed their readiness to offer more technical assistance to the National Assembly in various thematic areas including electoral laws, legislative processes and law-making, training and capacity building, among others.
The partners also suggested that the a technical session be organised by the PMU where all stakeholders would deliberate and come up with a policy document on how they assist in the design and implementation of the 10th House Legislative Agenda, an idea that the Speaker welcomed and directed should be implemented.