Speaker Muturi Underscores the Place of Research in Legislatures; Urges for Better Funding
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon Justin Muturi has urged African Parliaments, most of which now possess the role of budget-making, to dedicate more resources to Parliamentary research services, noting that research for legislative agenda cannot survive and thrive on a shoestring budget.
Speaking when he opened the Inaugural Africa Parliamentary Research Conference at the Crown Plaza Hotel this morning, Speaker Muturi further noted that research in modern legislatures plays a critical role in shaping Parliamentary debates and enriching Members deliberations. He emphasized that the strategic importance of research in legislatures cannot be underestimated especially in providing solutions for social, economic and political challenges that face the continent.
“The legislative process, for instance, is often driven by politics and stakes. Left unchallenged, this often leads to formulation of bills, motions and statements that are not based on research evidence and which serve partisan interests. Therefore, time has come when parliamentary leadership should be compelled to dedicate more resources to their in-house research services for capacity enhancement towards building a pool of specialized research and policy analysts.” Said Muturi.
The Speaker who is also the chairperson of the Parliamentary Service Commission, commended the Kenya Parliamentary Research Directorate for successfully organizing the four-day Conference, noting that it was timely, given the critical momentum evidence use in legislatures has gained in the era of information society.
Lauding the good work carried out by Parliamentary Researchers across the World, Muturi noted that Research services in legislatures play a prominent role when given the right framework to operate.
”Indeed, researchers remain the unsung heroes in many parliamentary discourses often operating from the background”, he noted.
Addressing the forum, the Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Services Commission, Hon.(Dr.) Naomi Shaban echoed the Speaker’s sentiments, underscoring the timeliness of the conference. She equally urged for better financing and strengthening of Research Departments in Parliaments within and beyond Africa, noting that research is the backbone of successful legislations and effective policy formulation in legislatures.
On her part, the Chairperson of the Commission Committee on Information and Public Communication, Hon. Aisha Jumwa, commended the organizers of the conference, noting that it is bound to create a great avenue for networking and subsequent greater success in the development of legislative agenda across Africa.
“The Conference will accord us an opportunity to interact with each other, share our research experiences across the continent and beyond, and hopefully form a formidable team of committed team players. Such commitment will ensure that legislators effectively perform their roles within the policy and legislative cycle shaped by access to concise, reliable, authoritative, accurate and neutral information henceforth. "
The Clerk of the Senate, and Secretary to the Parliamentary Service Commission, Mr. Jeremiah Nyegenye referenced the growing need for legislative information and research, especially in developing and transition countries as policy-making processes become more complex, particularly in the context of globalization, regional integration and decentralization.
Mr. Nyegenye expressed confidence that the convention will put into perspective the need to re-emphasize the position of research services in African Parliaments, and optimism that the conference would inspire the participants to set standards in their parliaments and work towards increasing the uptake of research in the complex and sometimes politically charged work environments.
The Clerk of the National Assembly Mr. Michael Sialai, who also graced the forum, challenged the researchers to engage in high quality research to address the complex questions that parliamentarians deal with. He urged Parliamentary researchers to ensure that relevant research work is well-communicated and accessible to Parliamentarians who have the power to act.
The 4-day conference has drawn participation from over 20 African Parliaments and a number of County Assemblies from within the country. The participants are expected to share experiences on best practices on parliamentary research, as well as well as offer them an opportunity to interact with a pool of distinguished resource persons from among others, the European Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern Africa (OSSREA) and the Centre for Parliamentary Studies and Training.
The conference is the first of its kind in Africa, and is taking place at a time when Parliaments across the globe are embracing the reality that people-centeredness is the rallying approach to formulation, coordination and implementation of policies and legislations. World over it is becoming increasingly obvious that fledging parliamentary democracy requires that national priorities and policies should be publicly debated and the government should be held accountable to the citizens for its decisions.
The objective of the conference is to deliberate on the Place of Parliamentary research and its organizational model in African Parliaments, while promoting evidence-use in decision making in African Parliaments. At the culmination of the conference, the forum is expected to establish an association for Legislative Researchers working in African Parliaments.