By Ifeanyi Nwoko
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has commended the National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) for the very important role it plays in sustaining democracy in ECOWAS member states.
Secretary General of ECOWAS Parliament, Dr. Nelson Magbagbeola gave the commendation on Monday at the opening of a regional training for Parliamentary staff of member countries.
The training which opened at the ECOWAS parliament in Abuja is aimed at empowering legislative staff to be in tune with intended impact of policies before drafting legislations.
Dr. Magbagbeola said that the parliament remained grateful to NILS for the capacity building assistance it had rendered to Members, Staff of the ECOWAS Parliament and the national Parliaments in the sub-region.
“NILS has been collaborating with the ECOWAS Parliament on capacity building in topical areas that can enhance the growth of democracy in the sub-region.
“There cannot be democracy without parliament. Parliament, as the second arm of government, is the bedrock of representative democracy.
“Thus, building a corps of skilled and resourceful parliamentary staff and Members of Parliament is a realistic way of promoting democracy in ECOWAS,” he said.
He commended the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), a partner in the training for supporting capacity development in Africa through investments, technical support, knowledge generation and sharing across Africa.
He noted that the traditional function of a parliament is making laws which are designed to promote the welfare of people and solve problems.
He added that parliaments also functioned to translate policy into legislation by identifying the objective of the society and the right policies to be implemented.
He said thaterfore that the training of legislative drafters by NILS had come at a very good time given the important roles of the drafters.
“Legislative drafting is both an art and a science. As the success of any legislation largely depends on the manner in which it is being expressed.
“Legislative drafting is thus an integral part of the legislation itself. The role legislation plays in the society has made it mandatory that due regard be paid to legislative drafting to ensure effectiveness.
“Legislative drafting goes beyond the act of merely putting legislation on paper, it is a unique form of writing and the drafter is saddled with the task of ensuring that the proposed legislation achieves the policy objective in a legally effective way.
“It is against this background that NlLS, in collaboration with ECOWAS Parliament, has organised this training programme, which is the fourth in the series of training programmes planned for parliamentary staff.
While speaking, Director General of NILS, Dr Ladi Hamalai said that the reason why there a a lot of lapses in legislation is because legislative drafters were not in tune with the policy objectives.
She said that the training is aimed at moving legislative drafters from mere drafting to understanding the content of a policy which they are drafting.
“Drafting is more effective if the drafter understands the the policy and its expected impact: Good laws should enable effective implementation of policies.
“A legislative framework might be so loose or might be so stringent that it becomes difficult to realise its results because the drafters did not understand the purpose of the policy,” she said.
She urged the trainees to take the training very seriously adding that they are facilitators of development and key players in democracy.
The News Agency of Nigeria *NAN) reports that NILS is the largest legislative training institute in Africa and has conducted a number of training for legislators and legislative stafff within and outside Nigeria.
The current training the training was for 60 legislative drafters drawn from ECOWAS member-countries, ECOWAS Parliament and the 6 geo-political zones of Nigeria.
The training is expected to last for four days.