Legislative Institute begins Masters, PGD in election management, party politics

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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The National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, (NILDS) is presently collaborating with the National Universities Commission, (NUC) and the University of Benin to start a Masters and Post Graduate Diploma, (PGD) programmes in Election Management and Party Politics.

Chairman of the Steering Committee for the development of a strategic plan for the NILDS’ engagement with political actors and office holders, Hon. Aminu Shehu Shagari disclosed this on thursday while briefing journalists on expanded mandate of the Institute.

According to Shehu-Shagari, “it is hoped that the programmes will start by the third quarter of 2018.”

The Institute was transformed from the National Institute for Legislative Studies, NILS, following the signing of its amendment bill 2017 into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on January 27.

Mr. Shehu-Shagari, who is also the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, said “in line with its new mandate, NILDS has developed programmes that are tailored towards deepening of democratic governance in Nigeria.”

He listed topics scheduled for discussions with stakeholders as election observation, election management, institution building of political parties and effective party management, the role of security agencies in the forthcoming general elections, and high turnover of members in the legislature.

Others he mentioned are the alternative funding sources for political parties, and the question of internal party democracy, independent candidature, revisiting card reader and electronic report of elections, and diaspora voting, among others.

“The charge of the steering committee was to develop a two-year strategic plan to define the mission of a new Department of Democratic Studies, DDS and identifying some of the key programmes to be implemented.

“The committee undertook several advocacy visits to engage with political actors and office holders in order to come to up with programmes and training modules that are relevant to the needs of targeted audience and more importantly, practical in purpose,” he stressed.

The Director-General of NILDS, Prof. Ladi Hamalai, said that the functions of the Institute includes promoting critical research material, policy insights as background materials for committees of the National Assembly, improving the capacity of legislators to sustain and consolidate democratic governance through deliberation and policy formulation.

Hamalai stated that others include the technical capacity of legislative staff, committee secretaries and political aides to process appropriation bills and policy oversight of the executive; document and publish for public use the history and politics of the legislature in governance in governance in Nigeria from colonial period to the present; conduct periodic training on democratic principles for members of the Armed Forces, among others.

“It is my belief that the NILDS programmes, if properly focused, would impact positively on the on-going democratic process and ultimately culminate in the building of virile democratic structures and institutions that would advance party politics and electoral process to higher height in the country through sustainable training of manpower and capacity building,” she stated.

Omolayo.A