It is impracticable to discuss Democracy, in whatever shade without firstly recognizing the height of importance of Parliament, as many have argued and rightly so, that the Parliament remains the bedrock and bastion of Democracy.
Also, the Constitution of Democracies the world over, places the Parliament practically as the be all and end all of the process of Democratisation, without which the Government of the People mantra is outright nullity.
For starters, it would be necessary to highlight that the Parliament is the Institution saddled with the responsibility of providing quality and Democracy based Representation, Oversight the activities of the Executive and most importantly as it were, Legislation. Elementary knowledge of Civic Education and Government would serve as a refresher to persons who would want their knowledge rejiggered via the essence of the subject of discourse.
It must also be brought to bare that an effective Parliamentary Institution is strongly correlated with the existence of a viable Democracy and an open society. Parliament, on account of their representative and legislative functions, can empower ordinary citizens to participate in the development of policies that shape their existence, given the fact that man is a political animal and thus, should be involved in whatever affects his dealings with others and even himself.
Due to their oversight role, Parliaments are fundamental to establishing the rule of law, protecting human rights, overseeing transparent governance processes and ensuring national compliance with international obligations.
The functions as highlighted above would then, ordinarily necessitate an effective, efficient and well strategized Parliamentary Services, with ebulient and well enabled support systems which explicitly solidifies same as the cornerstone of Democracy.
In essence, the role of Parliamentary Services in the proper functioning of Democracy cannot be wished away, neither can it be downplayed on the altar negligence or any form of political patronage.
Nyesom Wike, Nigeria’s Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, speaking during the 9th National Assembly and States Assembly Service Commissions Conference recently with the Theme: “Excellence in Parliamentary Services: A Panacea for Good Legislation for Democratic Governance”, hinted that “a well functioning parliament, with the right support systems, is the cornerstone of Democracy. It emphasizes the need for excellence, efficiency and effectiveness in parliamentary services to ensure that our legislative bodies can optimally fulfill their duties to the people”.
Wike went further to say “I applaud the work you do, the sacrifices you make and the commitment you demonstrate daily in the service of our nation”.
The Federal Capital Territory Minister went further to say “I equally urge you to collaborate with your peers from across the country to identify innovative solutions that can enhance the quality of our legislative process” and in all fairness, one of the ways to birth the enhancement of the quality of the said process is the establishment of State Assembly Service Commission.
Also it should be noted that parliamentary support programmes via the entrenchment of a well oiled Parliamentary Services, are the primary mechanism for encouraging parliamentary development. The Parliamentary Services at the national and State levels aim to strengthen Parliaments in order to foster representative, transparent, accountable and effective government, purely for the strengthening of the Parliamentary administrative structure.
From Nyesom Wike’s position, it would be deduced that he understands the role of Parliamentary Services in a participatory Democracy and frontally calling for a more solid parliamentary administration, which a functional State Assembly Service Commissions can robustly provide.
A doyen of Parliamentary Administration, the Clerk and Head of Legislative Service in the Abia State House of Assembly, Johnpedro Irokansi opined that it is an aberration to downplay Parliamentary Services because “strong Parliaments are the bedrock of Democracy and essential for development. They represent the people, pass laws and hold governments to account. Every true Democrat must see the need to solidify the Parliament and one of the ways to do same is the establishment of functional State Assembly Service Commissions. Anything short of that contravenes the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Surprisingly, in the South East of Nigeria, only Abia State, despite it’s intimidating democratic credentials, remains the only State that has not inaugurated it’s State Assembly Service Commission, though the present Governor Alex Otti administration, from feelers, has given assurances that justice will not only be said to be done, but also seen as done. There are high hopes and it is believed, shall not be hopes in vanity.
The benefits abound and truly builds Democratic Governance.
This is a clarion call to the Abia State Government to bring the State at per with the four States in the South East that have established the State Assembly Service Commission to further enhance the people’s bragging rights and the high level of confidence reposed in the Governor Alex Otti administration to do the needful as a truly tested Democrat.
With the above, it would be seen indeed that help, finally, is here.
(Public Affairs Analyst)