The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) has urged the government to increase funding for members of the National Assembly (NASS) in order to facilitate effective monitoring of budget implementation by the executive branch.
Professor Abubakar Sulaiman, Director General of NILDS, made this appeal during a visit by Nigeria Union of Journalists’ FCT Correspondents Chapel leadership on Friday in Abuja. Prof. Sulaiman lamented that standing committees within NASS are confronted with difficulties and challenges when carrying out their oversight functions. He stated that proper financing would allow these committees to conduct their assignments without fear or favoritism.
According to Prof. Sulaiman, providing more funding for parliamentarian oversight assignments is crucial because Nigerians will not want issues bordering on such assignments left uncorrected; he added that if parliamentarians have only been allocated an insufficient amount like N3 million as a vote for overseeing agencies such as Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), or Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPCL), which remit trillions, then they might be vulnerable.
Further emphasizing his point, Prof. Sulaiman said that when agencies being overseen fund those who oversee them, these efforts become dead on arrival; therefore, proper funding should be given so accountability and transparency can be ensured in committee operations.
Prof. Sulaiman also highlighted the role journalists play in reporting parliamentary oversight activities with a view towards scrutinizing executive arm budget implementations further through probing reports.
He maintained that media practitioners were critical stakeholders in democracy whose responsibility was keeping citizens informed about elected representatives’ workings beyond plenary sessions; they needed to know what was going on at all times instead of just sitting there listening passively.
Sulaiman stressed journalists had a duty not only as stakeholders but also cornerstones bridging feedback between people’s needs/government actions while saying governance was incomplete without them since history showed how much press played its part even before independence era began!
Sulaiman expressed the readiness of the Institute to partner with NUJ in providing capacity building for journalists even for those who are not directly covering the National Assembly.
On his part, the Chairman of NUJ FCT Correspondents Chapel, Comrade Jide Oyekunle commended the Director General of NILDS for his untiring and unrelenting efforts in enriching and deepening the reportorial knowledge and skills of members through periodic capacity building training particularly those covering the National Assembly.
He said the visit was aimed at bringing to the notice of the Director-General the need to extend the capacity building to other journalists in various beats, such as the judiciary, finance, crime, energy, health and others in order to acquaint them with the workings of the legislative arm of government.
“This will go a long way to erase the wrong and negative perception which Nigerians still harbour about the legislative arm of government, particularly the issues surrounding the official vehicles saga,” Oyekunle said.