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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

 

The historical journey to the emergence of the National Assembly started many years ago  after the 1861 annexation of Lagos by the British imperial forces. In the after math of this annexation, they set up a Legislative council made up of the Governor, six officials and four unofficial nominated members. Although this marked the first critical and tentative step in the evolution of the legislature in Nigeria, it was not a representative council nor was it imbued with law making powers. The Legislative Council was created to “assist and advise” the governor.

After his emergence as the first Governor-General of amalgamated Nigeria in 1914, Sir Fredrick Lord Lugard believed that the Legislative Council in Lagos was too small and too unrepresentative of Nigerians, and so, he took steps to expand it. He set up a body which he called the Nigerian Council made up of 36 members out of which only six were Nigerians. The Nigerian representatives on the Council included two Emirs from the North, the Alaafin of Oyo and one person each from Lagos, Calabar and Benin – Warri area. Although the Fundamental principles upon which this latest colonial contraption functioned did not depart from the former Council, nevertheless, it marked the first step in the recognition of the important role of the Legislature in Nigeria.

The council remained not only advisory but was limited in representation and was still without legislative powers. The law setting it up stated unequivocally that, “No resolution passed by the Council shall have any Legislative or executive authority, and the Governor shall not be required to  give effect to any such resolution unless he thinks it fit and is authorized to do so.” The fact that the six Nigerian members of the Council could represent the interest of the people since they hardly attended the Council Meetings, Nigerian intellectuals and anti colonial leaders  became increasingly restive with the status quo. Consequently, the Lagos wing of the National Congress for British West Africa, an assemblage of African intellectuals based in the old Gold coast, The Gambia, Sierra-Leone and Nigeria increased their pursuit of self determination for the people of Nigeria. In 1920, the congress sent a delegation to London to demand for a Legislative Council for each of the British colonies in West Africa. Even though, Britain swiftly rejected their demand and described them as self selected and self appointed congregation of educated African gentlemen, this move impressed on Britain on the need for further reforms of the Legislative Council in the colonies. As a result, the 1922 Clifford constitution in Nigeria created a new Legislative Council made up of 46 members.

While 27 of these appointees were officials of the colonial power, out of the 19 members, the Governor selected 15, with only four being elected. Lagos in recognition of its status as the Capital city had the privilege of electing three members while Calabar elected one member. These four elected members made history as the first elected Africans in any Legislature in British tropical Africa. In proactive terms, the new legislative council was an improvement on the former. In addition to its advisory role, it was charged “with legislating for peace order and good Government”

One constant factor of this evolutionary process of the legislature was the deliberate attempt by the British powers to overcome the limitations of the preceding Councils. Thus, the 1946 Richard’s constitution attempted to expand the legislative authority of the Legislative Council to include the Northern provinces. Henceforth, the Council started legislating for the whole country. In addition, it established regional councils which not only included unofficial members who were not elected but also included Nigerians who were supposed to represent local interests.

One of the criticisms of the Richard’s constitution was that it failed to expand the electoral base of the Legislative Council as the number of elected members remained four. The McPherson constitution sought to correct that anomaly. Governor McPherson constituted a committee to review the Richard’s constitution and put forward recommendations on how to draft a “Citizen oriented” constitution.

This decision led to greater involvement of Nigerians in the making of a constitution for the nation.  Following the submission of the recommendations of the committee, a constitutional conference was convened by the Colonial administration, in Ibadan, Western Nigeria in 1950.  This conference represented the first real opportunity for nationalists, intellectuals and opinion leaders to articulate the indigenous interests thus paving the way for its reflection in the new constitution.  The Colonial administration accepted most of the recommendations of the conference as became evident in the 1951 constitution.  Highlights of the 1951 Constitution include elected majorities regional and central legislatures.  Also, it granted regional legislatures the power to legislate in certain matters.  The 1951 constitution also introduced bi-cameral legislatures in the Northern and Western regions which both had Houses of Assembly and Houses of Chiefs. Although the governor was still “the symbol of internal policy formulation and implementation’’, nevertheless, the constitution stripped him of certain powers in his dealing with the legislature.

 

In 1953, Britain convened another constitutional conference involving all the Nigerian political parties in London.  The parties disagreed on critical issues thus paving the way for the continuation of the conference in Lagos in 1954.  One of the key objectives of the 1954 constitution was the abrogation of quasi-unitary and quasi federal systems in existence under the colonial rule to pave the way for the political independence of Nigeria.  It also resolved several critical issues including the issue of legislative competence of the two tiers of the federation, the Federal and regional government. Based on this resolution, in matters of conflict, the Federal law prevailed. Also, the composition of the federal legislature was altered fundamentally.  Only 9 out of 194 members of the Federal House of representatives were not elected.  But the Eastern and Western Houses of Assembly were composed of elected members.  Although the nation was gravitating towards independence, constitutional conferences took place in London in May and June 1957 and in September and October, 1958.  After independence in 1960, the existing contradictions and the evolving political reality  paved  the way for the adoption of a republican constitution in 1963.  This effectively terminated  the role of the queen of England as the titular Head of State and the place of the privy council in England as the highest judicial authority over matters concerning Nigeria.

 

It should be noted that the 1954, 1957, 1960 and 1963 constitutions recommended and gave Nigeria a Westminster model of government.  Under this system, the headship of the executive was also a member of the legislature.  The Head of government was elected from the legislature where in essence ultimate power resides.  The 1979 constitution represents a fundamental departure from this parliamentary system.  Under a military guided process, the constituent assembly met to consider details of the   constitution drafted by the Constitution drafting Committee. The military proposed presidential system of government was adopted by the Constituent Assembly.  The presidential system of government provided for a bicameral legislature, with a Senate and a House of Representatives.  The adoption of the 1989 and 1995 constitutions respectively were preceded by a Constituent Assembly and a constitutional conference.  Except for “no go areas”   imposed by the General Ibrahim Babaginda administration, the spirit of the 1989, 1995 and 1999 constitution were essentially the same.

Both constitutions of the Federal republic of Nigeria (1979 and 1999) invested in the National Assembly powers over the National treasury and matters of prosecution of war with another country. For the avoidance of doubt, it goes without question that the crafters of the constitution positioned the National Assembly as the senior partner in the democratic enterprise in Nigeria. It is only the legislature that can impose punitive sanctions on holders of offices and impeach or remove from office the president. In situations where the president vetoes any bill, the National Assembly can respond by overriding such a veto. This can be achieved by two thirds majority vote in both chambers.

Thus the National Assembly of Nigeria evolved through constitutional processes from the colonial administration since 1861, but became more pronounced in the first Republic, though several military interruptions in the democratic process rendered the Legislature comatose most of the time. It was not until the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, that the National Assembly began to assume its rightful place in the democratic project in Nigeria. For the past 14 years, the Legislature has remained stable, focused and positively aggressive in the discharge of its constitutional duties.

The National Assembly is a bicameral Legislature with the Senate made of 109 Senators with three (3) equal numbers from the 36 states of the Federation and one (1) from the Federal Capital Territory, and a House of Representatives made up of 360 members elected from different federal constituencies across the nation. While the Senate is headed by the President of the Senate elected by the Legislators from among themselves, the House of Representatives if headed bt the Speaker also elected by the members from among themselves. They are other principal officers in both chambers who are also elected by the members themselves. Both Senate and the House Constitute Standing Committees chaired by themselves through which the National Assembly exercises its oversight functions over the executive. At the state level, the legislature is unicameral in format and is headed by a Speaker elected by members from among themselves with other Principal Officers as in the National Assembly.

The National Assembly Administration And Organizational Structure

The structure of the National Assembly is captured in the National Assembly Service Commission Acts 2000, 2007 and 2014 as amended which established a Commission saddled with the responsibility of employing, promoting and disciplining of staff of the National Assembly.

Taking the National Assembly structure comprehensively, there three main arms of the Legislature: The Bureaucracy headed by the Clerk to the National Assembly who is also the Accounting Officer of the National Assembly. By virtue of the bi-cameral status of the National Assembly, we have the Senate and the House of Representatives both headed by the Presiding officers- the President of the Senate and the Hon. Speaker House of Representatives. Both presiding officers are assisted by their respective deputies and other principal officers who constitute the selection committee of the chambers acting as the cabinet in executive parlance.

The Clerk of the National Assembly is assisted by the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly (DCNA) who acts in that capacity in the absence of the Clerk. They are recognized as consolidated officers in the legislative service of government.

In performing their duties, the presiding officers of both Houses rely on the collective decisions of their colleagues. While they serve as approving authorities in both Houses of the Senate and House of Representatives, the Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the House of Representatives in the capacity of Permanent Secretaries acting on behalf of the Clerk to the National Assembly, are responsible for the day to day legislative activities in both Houses. They are assisted by the most senior Directors in the respective Houses, known as Deputy Clerks. This means that both Clerks of the respective Houses report to the Clerk to the National Assembly from the point of view of the bureaucracy but also take instructions from the presiding officers to whom they provide direct services.

In practice, a close look at the structure of the National Assembly suggests a tri-pod, consisting of the Senate, House of Representatives and the Management. In financial management in the National Assembly, the Clerk to the National Assembly remains the accounting officer even though the presiding officers of both Houses have approving powers with regard to expenditures relating to their respective Houses and colleagues but the final authority for the execution of such approvals rests with the Clerk to the National Assembly in line with financial regulations.

Overall, the Clerk of the National Assembly, referred to as the number one parliamentary officer, takes responsibility for the bureaucratic aspect of the legislature in Nigeria. Under the management arm of the legislature, there are seven Directorates and 54 Departments.

  1. Legal Services;
  2. Finance and Accounts;
  3. Procurement, Estate and Works;
  4. Health Services
  5. Legislative Budget and Planning;
  6. Research and Information; and
  7. Human Resources and Staff Development.

Other Offices are:

  1. Office of the Deputy Clerk Senate (Legislative);
  2. Office of the Deputy Clerk Senate (Administrative);
  • Office of the Deputy Clerk House of Representatives (Legislative);
  1. Office of the Deputy Clerk House of Representative (Administrative);
  2. Monitoring and Evaluation Department in the Directorate of Procurement, Estate and Works;
  3. Public Affairs Department in the CNA’s Office;
  • General Duties and Liaison Office Department also in the CNA’s Office; and
  • Public Health, Planning and Research Department in the Directorate of Health Services

The Special Duties Department formerly in the defunct Directorate of Common Services is now merged with the General Duties and Liaison Office Department of the CNA’s Office.

In summary, the current structure of the National Assembly bureaucracy is as follows:

  1. OFFICES
  2. Office of the Clerk to the National Assembly
  3. Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA) and
  4. Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly (DCNA).

Departments:

  1. National Secretariat of Nigerian Legislatures;
  2. Protocol;
  3. Sergeant-At-Arms;
  4. ICT;
  5. Official Reports;
  6. Internal Audit;
  7. Public Affairs;
  8. General Duties & Liaison Office; and
  9. Monitoring & Compliance.
  10. Office of the Clerk, Senate
  11. Clerk, Senate,
  12. Deputy Clerk, Senate (Legislative) and
  • Deputy Clerk, Senate (Administrative).

Departments:

  1. Chamber Office;
  2. Table Duties Office;
  3. Bills Office;
  4. Journal & Procedure Office;
  5. Committee Office;
  6. Management Office; and
  7. Legislative Scrutiny & Research.
  8. Office of the Clerk, House of Representatives
  9. Clerk, House of Representatives,
  10. Deputy Clerk, House of Representatives (Legislative), and
  • Deputy Clerk, House of Representatives (Administrative).

Departments:

  1. Chamber Office;
  2. Table Duties Office;
  3. Bills Office;
  4. Journal & Procedure Office;
  5. Committee Office;
  6. Management Office; and
  7. Legislative Scrutiny & Research.
  8. DIRECTORATES
  9. Finance and Accounts
  10. Department of Senate Accounts;
  11. Department of House of Representatives Accounts;
  12. Department of Management Accounts;
  13. Department of Legislative Aides Accounts; and
  14. Department of Budget.
  15. Legal Services
  16. Legal Drafting Department;
  17. Litigation & Counselling Department;
  18. Alternative Dispute Resolution & Citizens Right Department; and
  19. Legal Research & Report Department.
  • Procurement, Estate and Works
  1. Department of Procurement;
  2. Department of Tenders;
  3. Department of Supplies;
  4. Department of Facility Management;
  5. Department of Estate & Works;
  6. Department of Insurance; and
  7. Department of Stores.
  8. Health Services
  9. Department of Medical Services;
  10. Department of Dental Services;
  11. Department of Pharmaceutical Services; and
  12. Department of Public Health, Planning & Research.
  13. Legislative Budget and Planning
  14. Department of Budget Analysis;
  15. Department of Macro-Economics & Tax Analysis;
  16. Department of Policy & Programmes Analysis; and
  17. Department of Planning.
  18. Research and Information
  19. Department of Research & Statistics;
  20. Department of Information & Publications; and
  21. Department of Library Services.
  • Human Resources and Staff Development.
  1. Department of Appointments, Promotions & Discipline;
  2. Department of Training & Staff Welfare;
  3. Department of Establishment Matters & Legislative Aides; and

Department of Insurance & Pension Administration

  • National Assembly Liaison Office – situated in Lagos, is the only branch of the National Assembly and is headed by a Deputy Director.
  • National Secretariat of Nigerian Legislature (NSNL) – Ensures the maintenance of harmonious and productive relations between the National Assembly and other parliaments including legislatures in   Nigeria and other legislatures around the world.
  • Pension Division – handles pension matters for the National Assembly.

The Senate and House of Representatives departments are stratified into committees for efficient and effective administration of the Houses and to ensure proper and effective oversight functions of the legislature. In the 8th National Assembly, there are 69 and 98 legislative committees in the Senate and House of Representatives respectively. These Committees are made up of legislators as chairmen and members as well as administrative secretariats headed by Clerks (Secretaries) with other staff down the line. The secretariat provides advisory/research and administrative services for  members of the Committees.

The Workings of the National Assembly Administrative Structure

The staff of the National Assembly are employed to provide the various support services assigned to departments, divisions and units of the National Assembly which form reliable resource base for members of the Legislature.

Generally, the workings of the National Assembly particularly the support service operate a top-down method of decision making.

For this reason, depending on the initiation of an administrative service, the CNA delegates to his subordinates (mostly in the management department) for the implementation of any duty. The hierarchical order begins with the CNA through his Deputy, down to Directors then Division and Unit heads and ends with other staff down the line. On the other hand, a unit, division or department that initiates such service seeks for approval for implementation from the CNA through a unit or division head or a director.

In the same manner, staff of both legislative departments (Senate and House of Representatives) are answerable to the Clerks of both Houses through the Clerk of Committees (COC) and their various Committee Clerks. Thus, the hierarchy of the legislative departments is in this order – the CNA through the Clerk and Deputies of the respective Houses, down to the Clerk of Committees, then the Committee Clerks and also ends with other subordinate staff.

It is important to state that although legislative aides are employed and catered for by the National Assembly Service Commission, their services are  at the pleasure of their principals (legislators), who have the exclusive right to provide a list of 5 people for hire and sack by the Commission. In practice, these legislative aides are completely answerable to their principals for the discharge of their duties and their tenure of office when they principals leave the office and/or not returned to the legislature after Parliamentary elections at the expiration of their terms.

How Parliament Works

The term ‘‘Parliament’’ is used interchangeably to mean the Legislature. The Nigeria legislature comprises of the National Assembly, the State Houses of Assembly and the Local Government Councils. The National Assembly is the apex law-making body in the country.

Section 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria vests the legislative powers of the country in a bi-cameral National Assembly modeled after the US Congress. The National Assembly is made up of a 109 – member Senate and 360 members in the House of Representatives.

According to section 4 (1 and 2) of the Constitution, “the Legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive List set out in Part 1 of the Second Schedule of this Constitution”

The National Assembly legislates on matters in the exclusive and concurrent legislative lists. Items on this list include the federation’s account, arms and ammunition, aviation, defence, external affairs, police and other government security services established by law and a host other items. The State Houses of Assembly on the other hand, are empowered to legislate on items in the Concurrent Legislative List containing revenue allocation, collection of taxes, electoral laws among others while the Local Government Councils legislates on matters contained in the Residual List for instance, collection of rates, radio and television licensing and licensing of bicycles, among others.

Universally, Parliament is the arm of government saddled with the powers of Law-making, representation and Oversight Functions in democracy. In Nigeria, the Constitutional powers of the Legislature to oversight the executive arm of the government are contained in various sections of the grand norm. Reinforcing all the powers granted to the National Assembly to “make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative list, the constitution empowers the Legislature specifically on the following critical areas of governance:

  1. Power to Investigate the Executive –in Section 88 (1) of the Constitution, the National Assembly is empowered by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into:

 

  • any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws, and
  • the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, ministry or government department charged or intended to be charged with the duty of or responsible for –
    • executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly, and
    • disbursing or administering monies appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

 

These powers of investigation as stated in Section 88 (2) are exercisable only to enable the National Assembly:

(a),  make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correcting any defects in existing laws, and

(b)  expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement of funds appropriated by it.

  1. Power to Procure Evidence – as stated in Section 89 (1) the National Assembly is empowered for the purpose of any investigation under Section 88 of the Constitution to:

(a), procure all such evidence, written or oral, direct or circumstantial, as it may think necessary or desirable, and examine all persons as witnesses whose evidence may be material or relevant to the subject matter;

b), require such evidence to be given on oath;

c), summon any person in Nigeria to give evidence at any place or produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, and examine him as a witness and require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession or under his control, subject to all just exceptions; and

d), issue a warrant to compel the attendance of any person who, after having been summoned to attend, fails, refuses or neglects to do so and does not excuse such failure, refusal or neglect to the satisfaction of the House or the committee in question, and order him to pay all costs which may have been occasioned in compelling his attendance or by reason of his failure, refusal or neglect to obey summons, and also to impose such fine as may be prescribed for any such failure, refusal, neglect; and any fine so imposed shall be recoverable in the same manner as a fine imposed by court of law.

(2)     A summons or warrant issued under this section may be served or executed by any member of the Nigeria Police Force or by any person authorized in that behalf by the President of Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as the case may require.

iii.       Power to Receive the Audited Accounts of Government – Section 85 (2) provides that “the public accounts of the Federation and all offices and courts of the Federation shall be audited and reported on by the Auditor-General who shall submit his reports to the National Assembly; and for that purpose, the Auditor-General or any person authorized by him in that behalf shall have access to all the books, records, returns and other documents relating to those accounts”.

  1. Power to Appropriate Funds – Sections 80 to 83 of the Constitution provides for the powers of the National Assembly over public fund. Section 80 (4) does specifically provide that “no money shall be withdrawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of the Federation, except in the manner prescribed by the National Assembly”.
  2. Power of Impeachment, Removal and Confirmation – Section 143 provides for the power of the National Assembly to remove the President or Vice-President from office for gross misconduct, which is defined as great violation or breach of the provisions of the Constitution. This provides the National Assembly with an oversight power. Other sections of the Constitution provides the National Assembly with powers to confirm the appointments of certain officers appointed by the executive and also to remove some of these officers as the need may arise. This also provides the National Assembly with oversight powers over these agents of government; however, the Constitution does not confer on the National Assembly the powers to remove Ministers, who are the main agents of government in charge of its major organs.
  3. Power to Make All Laws – the Constitution (Section 4 (2)) vests power in the National Assembly to make laws for peace and good governance of the Federation or any part thereof with respect to any matter included in the Exclusive Legislative List.

In addition to the Constitutional powers of the National Assembly, the standing rules/Orders of the Both Houses (Senate and House) also serve as guide to the activities of the National Assembly.

          Standing Rules/Orders of the National Assembly

The rules of the Senate and House of Representatives provide for oversight of the executive particularly through the activities of the Committees. The relevant rules are:

Senate/ House Rules

  1. Senate/House rules grant the Committees on Appropriations and Finance power to consider appropriation bills, along with other committees as sub-committees with respect to ministries, department and agencies under their charge. The Committee can also determine the general fiscal and monetary policy of government ( S/Rule 92, clause 4(a), H/Order xii, Rule 16 clause 4(a) ).
  2. Senate/House rules require that Ministries’ Statutory Annual Reports and other statutory reports required by law must be submitted within three months from the closing date for the submission of the report unless reasons for the delay are given. The reports must also be submitted before the Committee on Appropriations and Finance and other committees consider a ministry’s estimates (S/Rule 93, clauses (a) and (b), H/Order xiii, Rule 1, clauses (a) and (b)).

iii.       Senate/ House rules grant the Public Accounts Committee power to examine the accounts showing the sums granted by the Senate/House to meet public expenditure; together with the Auditor’s report thereon and for this purpose can send for any person, papers, and records, to report from time to time to the Senate/House and to sit notwithstanding the adjournment of the Senate/House (S/Rule 97, clause 5(b), H/Order xix, Rule A1, clauses 1 and 2) .

 

  1. Each committee of the Senate/House is authorized at any time to consider such investigations and studies as it may consider necessary or appropriate in the exercise of its responsibilities. Committees are empowered to retain the services of expert, professional, technical and clerical staff as may be deemed necessary to assist their functions (S/Rule 102, clause 1(b) and (i), H/Order xiv, Rule B5, clause 8(1), (a)(i) and(i)).
  2. Each committee is expected to submit to Senate/House annual report of its activities (Rule 92, clause 4(a), H/Order xiv, Rule B5, clause 8(1) (d)).

Apparently, the authority to monitor, investigate or scrutinize derives from these constitutional powers and rules which are in tandem with most legislatures that are known to exercise effective oversight over their executive arm. In practical reality, scrutiny of the executive by the National Assembly is perhaps not different from other young democracies just emerging from the throes of military dictatorship. The Nigerian National Assembly contends with a hyper active executive arm of government that is quite unwilling to unbundle its considerable power, and which sees other arms of government more or less as extensions of the executive. To this extent, it is perhaps proper to suggest that despite the enumerated constitutional and chamber imperatives available to the National Assembly, it has in the past seven years had measured success in overseeing the government.

The Constitution provides that the members of the National Assembly will be elected every four years. There is however no limit as to the number of times a member may be re-elected into the Legislature unlike the executive arm of government where the President and Governors are not allowed to stay in office beyond tow terms of eight years. At every new National Assembly in every four years, the first rule of engagement at the inauguration of the new members by the Clerk to the National Assembly is the election of the Senate President/his Deputy and the Speaker of the House/his Deputy. The duos are first among equals elected to serve in those capacities to oversee the legislative business/processes in their respective chambers. Their duties are complimented by some other principal officers- the Leaders, Minority Leader, and the Chief Whip of both Houses among others, considering the party based on the political party representation.

The work of Parliament does not follow a linear process, considering the wide scope of its function. Committees are thus, created in line with the extant Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government for oversight purposes.

The Committees are extremely crucial to the success of the legislative process. Thus, they are regarded in some instances as ‘‘mini-parliaments in the Parliament’’. This is more so because, the rise and fall of a Parliament is in the effectiveness or non-effectiveness of the Committee system in place. The constituted Committees and Sub-committees have their Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen with members assigned to them to carry out the tri-pod functions of the Parliament which is law-making, representation and oversight.

The committee system eases law-making through division of labour, as matters not exhaustively debated upon at the floor of the chambers are usually referred to a committee of competent jurisdiction for further deliberations and actions. Members by their contributions in the Committees, play more significant role in public policy formulation and consideration than they do in open debates at the floor of their respective Houses.

Deliberations in parliament are first presented either in form of a motion, petition or a Bill which are debated upon and eventually referred to an appropriate and competent committee for further action. Depending on the subject matter, public-hearings are sometimes called and memoranda requested from the public and relevant stakeholders either as individual or in group. It is at that level that public interests are aggregated, articulated and considered as part of the public policy-making process.

For further realization of the objectives of the law-making functions of both houses, there are established a number of administrative departments and principal Divisions/Units that provides specialized common services. These departments and divisions provide specialized support services to the political arm of the Parliament.

In order for a parliament to perform its traditional functions satisfactorily- being functional, accountable, independent and representative, legislative aides (in various categories) are hired based on recommendation of the legislators to provide services defined by them.

Indeed, Parliament is the institutional link between the people and government. It is the umpire of government behaviour and conducts towards the people through its power of oversight. The parliament serves as a source of influence in creating and appropriating money for federal project in the various senatorial districts and federal constituencies represented. The parliament is a stabilizing factor and indeed seen as the fulcrum of any democracy. The relationship between the Executive and the Legislature is defined in line with the doctrine of separation of powers. Under the doctrine of separation of powers all the three arms of government in Nigeria function independently but harmoniously to ensure effective and efficient management of state affairs.