By: Oluwasola E. Omoju, National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), National Assembly, Abuja.
The important role of science in government decision and policy making is beginning to gain attraction in Nigeria, especially at the national government level. Before now, government decisions are rarely taken with inputs from scientists or researchers, as the government does not clearly see the strategic role of scientists in providing evidence-informed advice for its policies and decisions.
Even in some cases where inputs from scientists are solicited, they are usually done on adhoc basis and mostly for the executive arm of government because of its key role in formulating and implementing key government policies. This essay analyses the use of scientific evidence in the legislative arm of government in Nigeria.
Recent years have seen the appreciation of the role of the parliament in law and policy making, and the need for evidence-informed policy making in the legislature. This lead to the creation of the Policy Analysis and Research Project (PARP) in 2003 to serve as a capacity building and research arm of the Nigerian national parliament. PARP conducts research and analysis to support the work of the National Assembly by providing policy advice to members and committees of the Assembly.
The project (PARP) became a full-fledged institute (National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies) with legal backing in 2011. The law establishing the Institute mandates it to carry out research and policy analysis on national economic, political, social, legal and development issues; and conduct training for members of the legislature and their aides with the ultimate goal of boosting the technical capacity of the legislature in making viable decisions and effective policies. In my seven years at the Institute, it has recorded substantial success in providing science advice and training programs for members of the Nigerian National Parliament and their aides. It also faces a number of challenges in the course of performing this role.