In a clear violation of constitutional mandates, a significant number of 31 governors have failed to grant financial autonomy to the legislative branches of government within their respective states.
On the other hand, twelve additional states have granted partial autonomy to their legislatures. These states include Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Enugu, Kogi, Kwara, Bauchi, Ogun, Osun and Rivers.
However, there remains a group of states that have not granted any form of financial autonomy to their legislative assemblies.
This category includes Ondo, Katsina, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Ekiti, Abia and Imo, along with Bayelsa, Anambra, Ebonyi, Niger, Bauchi, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa and Kaduna.
Recent events have led to members of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) launching a nationwide industrial action in about twenty states. This strike was prompted by the inability to implement financial autonomy for state assemblies in the country.
Gbenga Oluwajuyigbe, the Chairman of PASAN in Ekiti State, stressed that financial autonomy applies to both the National and State Assemblies. Although the National Assembly has enjoyed full autonomy over the past decade due to their funds being designated as a frontline levy, the situation varies at the state level.
Oluwajuyigbe clarified that autonomy compliance can be divided into three levels: partial implementation, full implementation and non-compliance.
Full financial autonomy, in accordance with the spirit and letter of Article 121, is achieved when statutory allocations are placed as a first line charge. Partial implementation refers to a scenario where the executive authorities still handle the payment of the salaries of the legislative bodies.
Oluwajuyigbe alleged: “There is a provision in the 1999 Constitution, as amended in Article 121, which grants financial independence to the legislature. The only thing we advocate is the government’s compliance with this constitutional provision. If we talk about the non-implementation of the autonomy clause, it indicates that they have not initiated any form of implementation of Section 121. In such cases, the State Assembly must still seek the governor’s approval for funding for almost anything.
He further added: “We can classify Ekiti as partially implemented because salaries are not paid within the state assembly but are still audited by the Accountant General. Until they have their own payment point, similar to the National Assembly, it will remain a partial implementation.”
Usman Mohammed, the National President of PASAN, confirmed that Lagos and Plateau are already enjoying autonomy, with Jigawa gradually moving in the same direction.
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He stressed: “The Constitution does not allow partial implementation; it has granted autonomy to the state legislature under Article 121. It mandates that all funds meant for the state legislature and the judiciary should be transferred to their accounts. It is not specified that only overhead, personnel costs or capital are transferred; it includes all funds.”
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