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Nass library to build capacity of legislators, research on policies -Gbajabiamila

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that the National Assembly Library project's primary aim is to deepen the legislative competence of lawmakers and by extension, strengthen research on policy formulation for the whole country.

Gbajabiamila said the 9th Assembly viewed the project as one of its most cherished initiatives, envisaged to serve several functions, including a resource centre, a national museum and a digital archive for Nigeria's democratic journey.

He spoke in Abuja on Wednesday while declaring open a public hearing on a "Bill for an Act to Establish the National Assembly Library Trust Fund", organised by the House Committee on Legislative Library, Research and Documentation.

He noted that it was saddening that Nigeria, which prided itself as having the largest legislature in Africa, had no legislative library, adding that it was the reason the 9th Assembly took up the challenge to initiate the "ambitious" project.

The speaker gave details of the services the library will render, "We have set out to build a legislative library, archive and research centre comparable to any that exists anywhere else in the world.

"It is our vision that when this library is complete, it will dramatically improve the legislative capacity of the National Assembly by providing legislators and their aides with the resources they need to conduct thorough research and advance policies that serve to make our world better.

"The National Assembly Library will host professional development programmes that attract some of the best thinkers and experts from across the world. Public dialogues and other civic engagement programmes organised through the National Assembly Library will help improve the public’s understanding of the legislature’s role in our democracy. 

"In addition, the National Assembly library will house the National Assembly Museum and a digital archive of our nation’s democratic journey thus far. "

He described the ambitions as "enormous", requiring the sacrifice of time, resources, collaboration amongst stakeholders and partnerships with those "who share the vision of what we hope to achieve."

Besides seeing to the early completion of the project, Speaker Gbajabiamila informed the session that the legislature must also articulate a statutory framework for sustaining the future of the library.

He explained, "For that purpose, we have convened here today to consider the Bill to Establish the National Assembly Library Trust Fund.

"This bill seeks to define the funding sources, administrative operations and management of the National Assembly Library and to ensure thereby that the library, from inception and through the years, will remain a centre of excellence according to the vision we have for it."

He urged participants to thoroughly examine the bill and make contributions that would help the legislature to achieve the vision of the project.

"The bill, as it is, is a proposal, a statement of our intent. As it makes its way through the legislative process, it will change in substantive ways, and it will improve substantially.

"By the time we arrive at the final version, I fully expect that we will have a bill that is clear in its intent, confident in its mandates and innovative in the solutions it proposes. 

"This goal is only possible if all those who share the vision of what we hope to achieve with this project work to critically examine this legislation and make well-thought-out recommendations based on considerations of our national best interests", the speaker stated.

Delivering his welcome address earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Rep. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi, stressed the urgency to complete the library project.

He cited the case of the United States of America, which he said started its own legislative library as far back as 1925, an indication that Nigeria was almost a century behind the US in having such a project.

He called on participants to be open and free to make inputs to help realise the goals of the National Assembly Library.

We'll use legislative tools for Nigeria's perfect union - Gbajabiamila

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has said that the 9th House was committed to using the tools of legislative authority to advance solutions and implement policies that will help achieve the promise of a more perfect union in the country.

The Speaker said everything that needed to be done should be carried out by all the stakeholders to achieve the best visions for Nigeria and the welfare of the citizens.

Gbajabiamila spoke when he declared open the 2021 Roundtable on Social Protection Cover organised by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) in Abuja on Wednesday, with the theme 'Expanding Social Protection Cover and Ensuring Effective Implementation in Nigeria.'

The Speaker, who said he has the "greatest respect and love" for the Nigerian workers, called on well-meaning Nigerians, including politicians, to always have the interest of the workers at heart.

He noted that social protection is one of the most important responsibilities of government, saying it "legitimises the state in the eyes of citizens and bestows on government the moral authority to demand fidelity to the laws of the land and to take punitive action against those who choose to act in ways inimical to the collective good.

"So, when we gather as we have done this morning to think together about the ways to improve social protection cover in our country, we are engaged in a fundamental act of nation-building.

"We are making sure that there is a collective agreement on what it will take to achieve our best visions for Nigeria and the welfare of all our nation’s people. I expect that having secured agreement on what needs to be done, we will do what is required.

"I want to assure you that in the 9th House of Representatives, we are committed to using the tools of legislative authority to advance solutions and implement policies that will help achieve the promise of a more perfect union."

He said though these are challenging times for Nigeria, "an abundance of historical evidence leads me to believe that in this moment of crisis, there is an opportunity for us to make choices and take actions that can open up new vistas and measurably improve the lives of Nigerians.

"These choices will not come easy, and the actions we have to take will require sacrifice. We have it in our power to build a country where every citizen has the opportunity to rise to the height of their abilities. And we will, through our joint effort, and by the grace of God."

Earlier in an address, the NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said the Speaker has earned the trust of the Nigerian workers by not only attending the event but also ensuring that issues affecting them were always at the forefront.

Gbajabiamila tasks RMAFC on fair, just review of revenue allocation

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has charged the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to ensure a fair, just and equitable review of revenue allocation in the country.

The Speaker said in its attempt to review the revenue allocation in the country, which was last done almost 30 years ago, the commission should ensure that all stakeholders were carried along and that all necessary things are done so that the final report could not be faulted.

Gbajabiamila, who hosted the management of the commission led by its chairman, Engr. Elias Mbam for a courtesy call on the leadership of the House on Tuesday at the National Assembly, said the current realities should necessitate a review of the revenue allocation.

"I'm glad you're here. Your commission is one of the unsung heroes. You're of the 14 institutions established by the constitution, while all others were established by other laws.

"It's almost 30 years that the last review was done. It's such a long time. A lot has changed from 1992 to date.

"I charge you to do your review, not based on any sentiment. You should consult widely so that your report won't be faulted. I'm glad you said you're conducting public hearings. It's good to do that, to seek people's opinions.

"You should work based on the principles of justice, equity and fairness," Gbajabiamila said, adding that Nigeria is a peculiar country, hence the need to do a thorough and diligent review.

He said the House would support the commission in whatever way possible, noting that the commission's management was at the right place to seek support.

On the issue of amendment of the RMAFC Act, Gbajabiamila asked the agency to provide specific areas that needed to be amended, especially on the issue of the Petroleum Industry Act as cited by Engr. Mbam.

"In terms of autonomy, I need to know if you don't enjoy autonomy and how you're not autonomous. The House is here to partner with you. We must work together. We must give you the enabling environment to operate effectively."

Earlier, Engr Mbam informed the House leadership that the visit was to seek the support, advice and guidance of the House on the planned review of revenue allocation that the commission was to embark on.

He said since the last review in 1992, things have changed and that there was the need to review the revenue allocation to accommodate those changes.

He said: "We now feel strongly that the review has become necessary. A lot of things have changed since 1992.

"There are concerns now that were not there before. So, there is the need to review the allocation to make sure that what every tier of government gets is in line with its current responsibilities."

As part of the plans for the review, Engr Mbam said the commission has embarked on wide consultations across the country including visiting past presidents, the Nigerian Governors' Forum, the judiciary, Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) as well as engagements with the media, CSOs, among others.

He said the commission has commenced sensitization in different states and that it would hold public hearings with regard to the planned review, starting with the Southwest next week.

Engr Mbam thanked the Speaker for accepting to host them on short notice, saying "if all Nigerians will work like this, we all will be better for it."

Lanre Lasisi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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