The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu has said that inadequate funding of critical justice and social welfare institutions is hampering their ability to carry out their mandates effectively, and thereby compromising the welfare of most citizens, especially the vulnerable ones.
Kalu stated this on Friday in Abuja during a meeting in his office with a delegation from the United Nations Development Programme and European Union, on the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) Programme Phase Two.
In a statement by his Special Assistant on Press Affairs, Udora Orizu, the Deputy Speaker stated that adequate funding is the lifeblood of any institution, especially those that are responsible for upholding the rule of law and ensuring the welfare of citizens.
He commended the RoLAC Programme’s commitment to ensuring proper funding for these institutions and enhancing access to rights and justice for women, children, and vulnerable persons in Nigeria.
He made reference to right based legislations enacted by the National Assembly such as Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act, Administration of Criminal Justice Act and Discrimination Against Persons Prohibition Act, saying that these legislations were born out of the need to ensure justice, equality, and protection of the most vulnerable citizens in our society.
Assuring budgetary decisions that will prioritize the funding of these institutions and proper oversight to guarantee that rights-based legislations are implemented, Kalu pledged the support of the National Assembly and strategic collaboration, adding that it can lead to a more just society where the rights of all citizens are upheld and justice is accessible to everyone.
The Deputy Speaker said, “I am deeply honored to stand before you today to address two critical issues that demand our attention and action. The RoLAC Programme, which has been diligently working towards enhancing the rule of law and anti-corruption reforms in Nigeria, has sent us a compelling request for support in two key areas. I wish to emphasize my enthusiasm and intent in providing support for the following demands. Oversight for the Implementation of Rights-Based Legislation, the first crucial area is the oversight for the implementation of rights-based legislation. Nigeria through the National Assembly has made significant progress in enacting laws that protect the rights of its citizens, such as the Violence Against Persons Prohibition (VAPP) Act of 2015, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015, and the Discrimination Against Persons Prohibition Act of 2018.
“These legislations were born out of the need to ensure justice, equality, and the protection of the most vulnerable in our society. However, it is one thing to have these laws on paper, and it is another to ensure that they are effectively implemented. In a country as diverse as Nigeria, it is imperative that we ensure that all citizens have equal access to justice and are protected from discrimination and violence. The VAPP Act, for instance, seeks to protect women and vulnerable individuals from all forms of violence, and our commitment to its implementation demonstrates our resolve to create a more just society for all. The second critical area that demands our attention is budgetary decision-making to adequately fund critical justice and social welfare institutions. It is no secret that adequate funding is the lifeblood of any institution, especially those that are responsible for upholding the rule of law and ensuring the welfare of our citizens.
“Justice and social welfare institutions play a pivotal role in ensuring that our society remains just, equitable, and humane. Inadequate funding can hamper their ability to carry out their mandates effectively. Without proper funding, the wheels of justice turn slowly, if at all, and the welfare of our most vulnerable citizens is compromised. The RoLAC Programme rightly seeks to partner with us in this crucial endeavor. By working together, we can ensure that our budgetary decisions prioritize the funding of these institutions, ensuring they have the resources necessary to fulfill their roles in society. We are presented with an opportunity to make a lasting impact by partnering with them. Our support and strategic collaboration can lead to a more just and equitable society where the rights of all citizens are upheld, and justice is accessible to everyone.
“I wholeheartedly endorse this partnership and invite the RoLAC Programme to work with us on the specific areas that we will prioritize for immediate intervention. Let us work together to ensure the successful implementation of rights-based legislation and the adequate funding of justice and social welfare institutions. Together, we can make Nigeria better for all citizens.”
Speaking earlier, the Gender and Human Rights Lead, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Onyinye Ndubuisi told the Deputy Speaker that they seek to partner with the legislature to ensure that every Nigerian woman and girl live above all sorts of violence and violence is eradicated.
She suggested that the collaboration, starts with a legislative summit, where some policy documents around women and girls in the country are reviewed.