President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Monday lauded the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies(NILDS) for delivering on its core mandate in six years of its existence.
Lawan stated this in his remark at the convocation ceremony of the Post Graduate and Higher National Diploma programmes of NILDS that took place at the National Assembly, Abuja.
He said NILDS which is an affiliate of the University of Benin has done well, adding that the Institute has been consistent in graduating its students in the past six years, a feat he maintained was unbeatable by some older Universities in Nigeria.
“This is no mean feat by any standard. We must commend the steadfastness of the managers of the system, most especially the management team, for their selfless commitment to the actualisation of the vision and mission of the Institute in all ramifications.
“Today’s convocation is a testament that NILDS is on the right track vis-a-vis its mandate to build and strengthen the capacities of democratic institutions and actors in our country.
Though, the occasion calls for celebration, he said, it was time for challenges and limitations to be looked into, adding that the achievements could be exemplified by the number of graduands and their class of degrees across the various academic/professional programmes.
“What is impressive about the programme is that it comprises mainly practitioners in the legislature, the judiciary, and the executive. As such, the various programmes can achieve what is missing in most academic institutions: a handshake between praxis and practice.
“The success of the Institute and the efficient manner in which the postgraduate programmes are operated challenge us to reflect on some of the intractable challenges that our academic institutions face.
“It is also imperative that we reflect on the impact that education can have in uniting Nigerians as one people, even with different tongues and tribes. Higher educational institutions, especially universities, have prominent roles to play in these processes.
”Cognizant of the track record of some of the Institute’s faculty that include some former Principal Officers of the National Assembly across disciplines, I challenge NILDS to continue to take the lead in generating and disseminating evidence-based knowledge that can feed into the policy process at various levels in addressing these challenges.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute demonstrated this leadership by putting together academic and expert perspectives on how Nigeria could mitigate the effects of the crisis.
“Once again, our country stands at another critical crossroads as we prepare for the general elections in February 2023. The periods between now and the elections; and between the elections and the handing over in May 2023 are critical.
“NILDS and other leading democratic institutions are responsible for intervening positively to ensure the success of the elections. I challenge academic institutions and think tanks to develop further interventions to improve the process.
“Issues requiring rigorous academic and intellectual input include stemming the rising tide of fake news, hate speech, violence and many more that have continually endangered our elections.
“It is not enough to throw this challenge without a corresponding commitment from our end. As the President of the Senate and Chair of your Governing Council, I will never shy away from such a responsibility.
“As we have always done, we will continue to do our best to support the Institute. As I stated during the President’s presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill a few weeks ago, we are committed to completing the Institute’s magnificent permanent site. I am optimistic that Mr President will commission it before the end of this administration.”