Governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have thrown their weight behind the implementation of financial autonomy for states’ legislature and judiciary.
NGF chairman and governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, gave the assurance at the opening of a two-day conference on the implementation of autonomy of state legislature and state judiciary in Abuja.
According to him, it will ensure Nigeria attends the highest level of transparency and openness in governance.
He added that they will work with the federal government to achieve the implementation strategy and ultimately ensure fully autonomy of the legislature and judiciary at sub-national levels.
Yari, represented by Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, noted that though Nigeria’s democracy is 20 years old, it has not been a smooth sail, he however commended the current administration’s focus on ensuring that rough as the journey maybe, it will surely take us to the promise land.
Yari added that the condition for a sustainable democracy include the autonomy of the legislature and the judiciary.
He said: “I totally aligned with the motion that the legislature and judiciary autonomy are necessary precondition for an enduring democracy. This enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability in government.
May I also assure you that the state governors are collectively committed to the enthronement of a strong and viral democracy in Nigeria and would work with the federal government to achieve the National implementation strategy and ultimately ensure fully autonomy of the legislature and judiciary at sub-national levels.
“The NGF fully supports Mr. President reform agenda and share its passion for transparency and zero corruption. We commend the efforts of the committee in putting together this very decisive conference to see that Nigeria attends the highest level of transparency and openness in governance.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, commended President Buhari for his assent to the bill, noting that autonomy is central to the practice of democracy especially separation of powers
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu noted that local government areas need to be strengthened he therefore urged state assemblies to act fast.
He also advocated for State Police, thanking the federal government for its interest in the implementation of the law.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters (Senate) who is also the Secretary of the panel, Ita Enang, commended the those who attended the conference.
He said: “We are impressed by the attendant. Out of 36 states, 34 of the chief judges of the federation are here, and 31 speakers are also here in person while the rest of them are presented at this conference.
“The report and recommendation of the retreat will be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari and the implementation at the state level will start immediately in the next one week after the resolution of this retreat.”
On what the implementation portends for governance at the state level, Enang said: “What it portends is that the judiciary will be able to deliver the judgement without fear or favour and that their allocation will not be released to them or their salaries will not be paid, the court will not be renovated, or the chief judge will be removed or any judge will be removed.
And the legislature will be able to legislate without fear that the government will have a hold on them in terms of withholding their allocation. Because, money due to the judiciary will go to the account of the judiciary directly and money due to the legislature will go to the account of the legislature directly.
“Finally, it is intended to ensure that money for the judiciary is not spent for the judiciary or on the judiciary but it is spent by the judiciary for the judiciary and on the judiciary and the same goes for the legislature.”
Benue state governor, Samuel Ortom, on his part said autonomy of both state legislature and judiciary will strengthen democracy.
He said: “I appreciate to Mr. President for setting up the implementation committee. The executive, legislature and judiciary are all here and so issues that pertains to implementation will be resolved right here and then we can pick up successfully.”
“One thing is that we must learn and respect our constitution, once laws are in place, we have no choice but to comply because that is the only thing that will lead us to greater height. If we refuse to obey our laws then we are calling for chaos and anarchy and when anarchy comes nobody will be safe. So I welcome this retreat because at the end of the day all of us will take something home.”
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