The National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) has honoured six former presiding officers of the National Assembly with the award of fellowship of the institute.
Those awarded the fellowship were former Senate President, David Mark, former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole and Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal now Sokoto State Governor.
Others who also received the award were Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; a former Deputy Speaker, Senator Usman Bayero Nafada, and the former Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha.
Addressing participants at the occasion, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki said that the investiture would afford NILS the opportunity to acknowledge persons of eminence and distinction who have provided the Institute with the inspiration and the necessary guidance to be what it is.
Senator Saraki said that based on the belief of the awardees that, for the legislature to be successful it requires a competent research and training institution, “the leaders that we celebrate today supported the establishment of the Policy Analysis and Research Project (PARP) in 2003.”
He added that given its successes so far in building legislative capacity across Nigeria and indeed the West Africa region, the awardees worked assiduously towards the successful enactment of the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) Act, 2011, which formally signaled the establishment of the Institute.
According to Senator Saraki, “Our new Fellows, your elevation to the status of Fellow of the National Institute for Legislative Studies imposes additional responsibilities on you to further contribute to the overall development of the Legislature in Nigeria.
“This is in addition to your continuous support to the Institute as it strives to become a world class parliamentary support institution in the same league as the Congressional Research Service (CRS). “I am confident that the investiture of a steady stream of new Honorary Fellows would be a useful ‘profile raiser’ for the Institute and indeed the Legislature.”
The institute also matriculated 99 students for Higher Diploma and Postgraduate studies in legislative studies.
The postgraduate programmes of the Institute, seek to imbue staff of the National Assembly with the requisite skills needed to shape and direct national policy.
“This is critical and indeed essential if legislators are to benefit from timely, digestible and accurate outputs,” the Senate President said.
In his words, “the programmes present to staff a unique and cost-effective opportunity to build their capacities in relevant areas without spending much time away from their work. The NILS Postgraduate programme is critical to the growth of the legislature in Nigeria for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it is becoming increasingly clear that democratic Parliaments require a rich, diverse and independent channel of information to address increasingly technical problems of policy, oversight and legislation development.
This includes evidence-based decisions on complex issues and a more effective role in governance. Thus, for effective decision-making, Legislators and Committees need well researched information and increased resource competencies.
The Institute’s role as a capacity building agency of the National Assembly is to ensure that legislative staff and legislative aides are better placed and adequately equipped to provide the needed support legislators need to perform optimally.
Your role therefore is more than simply servicing the legislature. Fourthly, the NILS Postgraduate Programme can serve to create a pool of prospective legislative aides or individuals seeking to make a career in the Legislature.
This is, therefore, an exclusive opportunity for those interested in the legislature to deepen their knowledge, sharpen their skills, and work with other highly experienced people from across the academic and legislative sectors to make an important contribution to the future direction of the legislature and democratic governance. ”