By Deji Elumoye
The Acting Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr Olatunde Amos Ojo, has assured that the federal legislative body will soon be upgraded to operate e-parliament in line with global best practices.
Ojo who spoke on Friday while paying host to leadership of the Centre for Legislative Engagement – an arm of YIAGA Africa – in Abuja, stated that the Assembly management under his watch will work to ensure that the National Assembly before long operates an e-parliament.
He emphasised that his administration had a goal to transform the National Assembly “for better deliveries of constitutional responsibilities that is of international standard in lawmaking, representation and oversight.”
According to him, the National Assembly management under his leadership will work to ensure that anybody that comes to the National Assembly to seek information can get it at the click of a button.
His words: “We want to make sure that the National Assembly operates e-parliament and to operate e-parliament, we have to develop our ICT so that when anyone comes into the National Assembly, whether as a media man or you belong to one group or the other, you can easily log on and access anywhere in the world and we will make accessibility to lawmaking and everything on National Assembly free for everybody, the moment you enter into this place.
“I believe that by the time we are able to achieve this with discipline and integrity, there will be a properly transformed National Assembly to be able to deliver our purpose and objectives.”
The Clerk added that the nation’s apex legislative body is ready to partner with critical stakeholders like Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA Africa) to build capacity.
Ojo said: “One among this is the training and retraining of our staff members inclusive of our legislative aides also because for us to achieve this aim, we know that our staff need training and retraining and we are pointed to make sure that this we do appropriately in conjunction with all ready organizations willing to support and back us up in this venture. Your organization, YIAGA, definitely will not be left out.
“I want to say that we have enormous environmental challenges that negatively impact on the work ethics and professional standard of the National Assembly bureaucracy.
“To this end, the management under my leadership will make sure that the work of the Assembly altogether, is done with utmost transparency, making sure that at all times everyone involved will be willing to do what he is expected to do and do it promptly also, the right way it should be done.
“Our capacity development therefore will be a continuous process, making sure that the knowledge gaps we have in the various parts of the National Assembly are filled up so that from any part of the National Assembly, if you pick a staff, he speaks and acts as a legislative bureaucrat.
“That is what we want to make sure we achieve and we are trusting that by the time we set this house properly definitely since it is our objective, God helping us we are going to attain it”.
Earlier, the Executive Director of YIAGA Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo, had said the visit was to congratulate Ojo on his appointment adding however that “there are a few issues that are very germane to us beyond this congratulatory visit.
“Key among them is the huge opportunity that avails to you as a Clerk of the National Assembly to protect openness at the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly is one institution that is most misunderstood by Nigerians and likely so because the communications and public engagement with citizens has not been as desired and as a Clerk, there is a lot of expectations that given your experience and also your disposition, that you will bring that to bare in this leadership role in providing citizens access to the National Assembly as well as citizens participation.
“It is very important and there are diverse ways this can happen. With the COVID-19 pandemic, technology provides a huge opportunity and so e-parliament should be a top agenda”, Itodo said.