Nigeria: Assembly Speakers Hail President's Executive Order On Financial Autonomy

President Muhammadu Buhari (file photo).
25 May 2020

Speakers of Houses of Assembly have hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for signing Executive Order No. 10, which seeks to facilitate the implementation of financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary as enshrined in section 121 (3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

But state governors have maintained silence on the presidential directive as the chairman of their forum, Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF), Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, told THISDAY that no comment would be made until they meet over it.

"Governors have not met on the order, so we have no reaction," he said in a text message yesterday.

The speakers, however, described it as an impetus to boost legislative performance and service delivery by state legislatures.

Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, said the body was excited over the president's order, adding that it was a Sallah gift to the legislators.

Obasa, who is also the speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, told THISDAY: "No doubt, this order will further make state legislatures independent of the executive arm of their various governments.

"It would also boost healthy competitions among state legislatures in pursuit of advancements and developments.

"This is the best gift the President, His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, has given the legislative arm of state governments at this Sallah. And coming at the end of the Ramadan, it means God truly answered the prayers of the members of state legislatures through the president."

The president had last Friday signed the executive order, directing the Accountant-General of the Federation to give effect to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution signed in 2018.

The order was a product of the outcome of the implementation committee on financial autonomy for state legislatures and judiciary set up by the president.

The committee had the mandate to ensure the implementation of the financial autonomy in line with section 121(3) of the constitution as amended.

While commending the members of the implementation committee for putting in their best and meeting its mandate, Obasa urged the state Houses of Assembly to see it as a further push to unite the country and contribute more to its growth, peace, and progress.

Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Hon. Francis Nwifuru, described Buhari's action as a welcome development.

In an interview with THISDAY, the speaker's spokesman, Mr. Leo Oketa, quoted the speaker as saying that the state assembly had been enjoying autonomy under Governor David Umahi.

"So, what His Excellency, the president did was giving more clarification and also more directive to make sure that the financial autonomy is implemented 100 per cent. He exercised his constitutional powers and you must obey based on Section 5 of the constitution that every section of the constitution must be obeyed no matter who the person is and that is what Mr. President did by issuing Executive Order No. 10," he said.

The Majority Leader of Kano State House of Assembly, Hon. Kabiru Dashi, told THISDAY in Kano that the executive order was long overdue.

"I can assure you that this financial autonomy will make us more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution," he said, adding: "Financial autonomy will help us to continue representing our people effectively. This is a victory to all the legislators across the country."

Chairman of Plateau State House of Assembly Committee on Information, Hon. Peter Dasun, also described it as a welcome development.

"Indeed that's what we've been clamouring for. I consider it a victory for democracy because we would have a clear-cut autonomy and authority to decide on what to do with our resources within our arm of government and we would have a wider and better opportunity to deliver the needed dividend of democracy to our people," he said.

The Speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Hon. Aniekan Bassey, said the new order would reposition governance in the three arms of government.

"The financial autonomy granted to the two arms of government does not call for ego-tripping, nor for muscle-flexing with the executive arm of government. It is meant for cooperation amongst the tripod.

"It is a means to reposition governance in the three arms of government, while each arm works assiduously in changing the social, political and economic narratives of our people," he said.

In Anambra State, the Chairman of the House Committee on Finance, Hon. Obinna Emenaka, praised Buhari for signing the order, saying autonomy of the legislature would enhance both the quality of law and strengthen lawmakers in discharging their duties.

"I must commend President Buhari for signing that executive order. I now understand what he meant by belonging to everybody and to nobody.

"If I were not a fan of Buhari, the signing of this executive order would have made me become one. Don't forget that when you are talking of financial autonomy, you are also talking of independence and this is needed for lawmakers to function well," he said.

In his reaction, the Chairman of Enugu State House of Assembly's Committee on Information, Hon. Jeff Mba, said the development would enhance the legislative activities of the assembly.

He said the executive order showed that the nation's democracy was growing as it would help in strengthening the legislature and stop the over-dependence on the executive for routine financial engagements.

"This is indeed a welcome development. It means we've started building strong institutions which have been lacking in our system," he said.

The Speaker of Ekiti State House of Assembly, Hon Funminiyi Afuye, also hailed Buhari's action, saying it would inject efficiency into law-making for good governance.

According to him, "This action was a constitutional issue and it was in tandem with the rule of law that the legislative arm should be made more efficient.

"But this shouldn't be a reason for legislative autocracy or as a means for conflict between the executive and the legislature.

"The implementation should be geared towards robust inter-governmental relations that will bring about good governance anchored on the rule of law."

In Osun State, the Speaker, Hon. Timothy Owoeye, described the order as a victory for democracy.

His spokesman, Mr. Kunle Alabi, said the order would enhance the effectiveness of the legislative arm of government.

"With this, the principles of separation of power and check and balance will be seen to be in full operation," Alabi said.

Chairman of Adamawa State House of Assembly Standing Committee on Legislative Compliance and Special Duties, Hon. Alhassan Joda, also commended Buhari for signing the order.

He explained that the executive order would guarantee the financial autonomy of the state assemblies and judiciary.

He said some states could not take independent decisions or perform their constitutional functions without recourse to their governors.

The APC lawmaker attributed the poor performance of state legislatures over the years to not being financially independent.

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