The National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) has called for more training for legislative support staff to improve the process of lawmaking and other legislative activities. Ahmed Amshi, the chairman of the commission, made the call on Tuesday, during the opening of a three-day training organised by the management of the House of Representatives for members of staff in Abuja. Mr Amshi, who was represented by the Commissioner representing North-east, Abubakar Tutare, said most lawmakers elected to the National Assembly are politicians without knowledge of lawmaking. He noted that the success of the lawmakers depends on the quality of legislative staff supporting them in the endeavour.
“Where we are in National Assembly is where laws are made for the country. The laws are made by elected politicians, who may or may not have the knowledge or expertise of lawmaking.
“For them to be successful, they will need your contribution and guidance and so they need the necessary training in law drafting for good governance is very necessary.
“NASC will at all times, give support to issues of staff training to develop capacity,’’ he said.
Mr Amshi added that “training is a priority under my tenure as chairman of NASC, because it is only in training and retraining that we can develop the capacity of our staff and the need to develop capacity cannot be overemphasized. In his remarks, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Yahaya Danzaria, appreciated the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, for supporting the training of staff. He said the training targets the core legislative officers in the areas of chamber services, table duties, rules and business, legislative scrutiny and committee system. Mr Danzaria said aside from the general training in legislative practice and procedure, there is a need to focus on those key and peculiar areas of legislative activities that only trained officers have the capacity to handle.
“I have a strong conviction that the best way to maintain optimum performance and productivity in any system or organisation is to empower the workers that form the pillars of the organisation.
“Through this capacity building, we build strong institutions, and make them work; I have no doubt that at the end of the programme, the beneficiaries will be better equipped for greater service to the legislature and the Nigerian state,’’ he said.
“I, therefore, urge all participants to this workshop to listen to the experts who will be engaging you these few days to gain more knowledge and experience that would impact further in your daily call to duty.
“On our part, we will strive to provide you with the enabling environment with the resources available. I wish you fruitful and result-oriented interactions,” he said.
Drafting errors in past bills
Nigerian lawmakers have come under scrutiny for drafting errors in major legislative pieces in the past.
President Muhammadu Buhari on numerous occasions rejected bills due to errors. Easterner had reported how a coalition of civil society organisations identified some errors in the electoral bill rejected by Mr Buhari in December. The coalition discovered at least 16 errors in the bill. These errors range from grammatical to cross-referencing gaps. The errors were identified by a coalition of eight civic groups comprising the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) Yiaga Africa, International Press Centre (IPC) and Centre for Citizens with Disability (CCD).