Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has said that many Nigerians do not understand the functions of the parliament in carrying out its constitutional responsibilities.
Dogara said this on Monday at the opening ceremony of the National Assembly Open Week in Abuja.
He expressed hope that the event will meet the expectation of informing Nigerians more on the workings of parliaments and other related activities.
He said, “It is my hope that the new phase of openness that is being launched today will afford the people of Nigeria the opportunity to better understand the workings of the Legislature in proper perspectives.
“I say this because many Nigerians do not quite understand the functions of the parliament in carrying out its constitutionally-assigned roles and responsibilities.
“The parliament does its works through legislation, representation and oversight. Through legislation, we make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the country.
“Through representation, we advance the particular interests of the people of our constituencies and the interests of Nigerians generally, while through oversight, we oversee or monitor the activities of the other arms of government.”
Dogara also reiterated that the legislature was the paramount arm of government, “because the whole idea of limited government and representative democracy begins and ends with law-making and execution of laws.
“This reality has not dawned on many Nigerians mainly because of our military era experiences during which the elected legislature was always disbanded at the slightest sound of martial music.”
He also reaffirmed the resolve of the Nigerian parliament to uphold the principle of Openness as contained in the declaration of parliamentary openness at the World e-Parliament Conference in 2012.
“I wish to also note that the Nigerian parliament has all the while been considerably open through our robust interface with citizens during our committees’ public hearings, oversight functions and on our websites.
“This is also through effective coverage by the print and electronic media, including live streaming and coverage of the sittings of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives.
“What is needed now, I believe, is to up the ante in all our platforms to further engage with the people of Nigeria in the spirit of the Declaration of Parliamentary Openness,” he added.
Dogara also stressed that good governance and development could only be achieved when the three arms of government worked in an orderly, synchronised and complementary form and observed strict compliance with the norms of the rule of law.
He said that it could also be achieved when they maintained mutual respect among the arms and adhered to the principle of separation of powers.
According to him, these include checks and balances in order to check tyranny and secure the liberty of citizens.
The speaker noted that any leader who did not understand the principle should have no business leading a democracy.
He added that the national assembly had also opened its budget to the public within the ambit allowed by the Appropriation Laws and process.
“May I also use this opportunity to call on other arms of government, particularly the Executive, to open its doors and activities to legislative scrutiny,’’ he said. (NAN)