Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has canvassed for more funds to be allocated to the completion of the permanent site of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, Abuja.
Dogara, who made the demand while on an inspection tour of the project, said inadequate funding has been a major obstacle to the project and there was an urgent need for a collaborative effort between the executive and legislature to surmount the hurdle. He lamented that the funding challenge was a spill-over from the general financial constraints Nigeria has been witnessing in recent years.
According to Dogara, funding constraint has been responsible for the dismal performance of the capital budgets, which more often than not does not attain more than thirty percent performance level each year.
“I remember that we had this kind of challenge with the EFCC Headquarters which was commissioned earlier this year. Until we put the right focus there, until we insisted that for anyone who wants to visit Nigeria and check how we are fighting corruption, their first point of interface is the EFCC and they tend to look at the environment where the agency operates from. Where they were was not befitting.
“So that attention was focused on that building and by the grace of God, the executive working with the support of the National Assembly we were able to get the funds in good time and with the same Julius Berger to complete the EFCC Headquarters.
“Now the attention should move here because the truth is that, we have always said this, if democracy is based on the rule of law it therefore means that for you to have a robust democracy your laws must be robust.
“In a situation where you don’t have an institution like this that models parliamentarians and even some of our staff, you will discover that the laws will be shallow and at the end of the day, democracy itself will be shallow, “he said.
Dogara argued that if Nigeria desired to deepen her democracy, it must endeavor to build institutions like NILDS not only to train the manpower needs of the National Assembly but to share Nigeria’s democratic experience with other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Director General, NILDS, Prof. Ladi Hamalai said the completion of the project will boost the capacity of the institution to deliver on its mandate. According to Hamalai, the institute has been seeking collaboration with other prestigious institutions with similar mandates in other parts of the world and therefore needed to put its house in order.
“We’ve been constrained in terms of space and lack of facilities in training of personnel in the National Assembly and across the ECOWAS parliaments even when such training are funded by donors. So this will give us the opportunity to really make here a training hub at the regional level. You also know that we have already trained several parliaments at the temporary site. By the time we move here, I am sure many African countries will convert it to their training ground.
“We will have enough space to hire more experts, we will have enough space to collaborate with prestigious institutions abroad. We’ve be talking with several institutions like Johns Hopkins in the United States of America. We would also be able to have a world class library as you can see from the tour of the building. So a lot of things can be done from here especially the coverage of the ECOWAS countries,” Hamalai said.
The multi-billion naira project which began in 2011 is being executed in two phases. The first phase which has reached about 60 per cent completion consists of the Main Academic Hall, Convention Centre, Library, Lecture Halls, Reception and Administrative Block. The second phase consists of the Services Building which houses the Power Generating Plants and Hostels.