By Vincess Okushi

The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) is advocating the need for effective monitoring of budget implementation by the three arms of the government to ensure service delivery.

The Director General of NILDS, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman made the expression during a working visit paid by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) FCT Correspondents Chapel in his office in Abuja.

Sulaiman while lamenting the difficulties and challenges faced by the standing committees in the NASS in carrying out their oversight functions, calls for more funding for members of the National Assembly (NASS) to counter threats to project implementation

According to him, proper funding will enable the standing committees of the NASS to carry out its functions without the fear or favor of any politician.

There are issues that border on oversight assignments and I keep saying those issues will not be corrected until we provide more funding for the parliament to do their oversight, and that is what Nigerians will not want to hear.

When the parliamentarians are going to oversight Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPCL) and the only vote of budget you could give them is N3 million to oversight an agency that will remit trillions and you say they will not be vulnerable?” he queried, adding “then, we are just deceiving ourselves”.

He added: “When the agencies you are to oversight are the ones funding the oversight, then the oversight is dead on arrival. Proper funding of oversight functions of the parliament would ensure accountability and transparency on the part of the committees”.

Sulaiman further harped on the need for media practitioners to be on the toes of political office holders and ensure adequate reportage to oversight functions as well as to scrutinize the government’s budget for optimal implementation for the interest of the citizens.

This is where journalists have to come in and interrogate how much is there for the National Assembly and State Assemblies to perform their functions especially the aspect of oversight and this is the area you can call MDAs to question and account. I think we need to do more.

“The history of this country’s independence is not complete without the press. Governance is not complete without the press, he said.

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.

And appealed for such capacity building to be extended to other journalists in various beats, such as the judiciary, finance, crime, energy, health, and others 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 harbor about the legislative arm of government, particularly the issues surrounding the official vehicles saga, Oyekunle said.

Meanwhile, the DG NILDS  expressed the Institute’s readiness to partner with NUJ in providing capacity building for journalists even for those who are not directly covering the National Assembly.


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