The Chairman Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria, Abubakar Suleiman, has expressed satisfaction about the success of the fight for the state’s financial autonomy, which was initiated and won by the association.
Suleiman made this disclosure during an induction for speakers of state houses of assembly, held in Abuja
According to him, the struggle for financial autonomy for state houses of assembly, which began in 2010, has been a challenging, but worthwhile journey.
Suleiman who is the Speaker of Bauchi State House of Assembly, added that the Conference pioneered the cause steadfastly.
“The Conference has been at the forefront of championing the financial autonomy for state legislatures.
“Having lost it in the first amendment exercise in 2010, the Conference re-strategized and worked with relevant stakeholders such as the National Assembly and the PERL-ECP in subsequent amendment exercises.
“Thanks to our partners and the state houses of assembly, we achieved our goal in the 4th Alteration exercise,” he stated.
He however explained that a lot of challenges were faced during the implementation process.
“However, not until Mr President gave presidential assent to the four alterations in 2018, did the challenge of implementation rear its ugly head.
“In other words, implementation of the financial autonomy as granted by the Constitution became an issue.
“States were not able to implement it due to what the executive arm at the state level called lack of modality for implementation.
“To overcome these implementation issues, Suleiman and his team engaged with the Presidency, leading to the issuance of Executive Order 10 to ensure compliance with the Constitutional provisions.
“However, the Executive Order was challenged and defeated in court by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum,” he said.
“To resolve this, we engaged other stakeholders such as Nigeria Governors Forum, Office of the Chief of Staff to the President, Presidential Committee on the Implementation of Financial Autonomy, Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Office of the Minister of Labour and Productivity and others.
“Collectively, we agreed on a modality which constituted our memorandum for yet another amendment (the 5th Alteration to the Constitution).
“And on 16 March 2023, President Buhari gave presidential assents to the consequential amendment (modality for implementation) on the Financial Autonomy for the State Houses of Assembly,” he added.
Suleiman pointed out that the assent on the law by the former President, Muhammadu Buhari, had finally granted the state assemblies the much-needed financial independence, noting that this autonomy will strengthen the legislative institution at the state level while promoting good governance.
“The journey has been a long one; the efforts have been worthwhile. With the support of the aforementioned stakeholders and partners, we have effectively amended the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide not only financial autonomy for the state legislature but also for its implementation adequately.
“This, without doubt, will ensure good governance in our country,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr Chris Pycroft, the Development Director of the United Kingdom High Commission, stressed the importance of accountability in the executive arm of the government.
“The state legislators are a vital link between the state and its citizens.
“They must continue to play their roles effectively by holding the executive to account.
“This is crucial in delivering efficient governance to the people,” he said.