Nigerian Governors reject financial autonomy for state assembly. A substantial number of 31 governors have refused to provide financial independence to the state legislature, in flagrant violation of constitutional duties. The state houses of assembly have also rejected the proposed financial and legislative autonomy for local governments.
The failure by the parliaments of some states in the country to pass the bill seeking financial and administrative autonomy to local government in their respective jurisdictions is raising a cloud of dust.
The National Assembly transmitted 44 bills to the 36 state assemblies in March 2022 for their concurrence required to get the President to sign them into law, but only 35 scaled through and have been passed by state assemblies.
The State Houses of Assembly yet to forward their resolutions to the National Assembly include Gombe, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Oyo, Plateau, Sokoto, and Zamfara states.
The Trade Union Congress has criticised the governors over the failure of state houses of assembly to pass the local government autonomy bill.
Members of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) recently began a statewide strike that affected about 20 states. The country’s inability to establish financial autonomy for state assembly served as the impetus for this walkout.
The National and State Assemblies are entitled to financial autonomy, as stressed by Gbenga Oluwajuyigbe, the Chairman of PASAN in Ekiti State. Because its revenues are considered first-line charges, the National Assembly has had complete autonomy for the last ten years; however, things are different at the state level.
Three stages of autonomous compliance can be distinguished, according to Oluwajuyigbe: partial implementation, full implementation, and non-compliance.
The achievement of complete financial independence, in accordance with the language and spirit of Section 121, occurs when legislative allotments are made as the primary charge. A situation known as partial implementation occurs when legislative salaries are still paid for by the executive branch.
Oluwajuyigbe asserted, “There is a provision in the 1999 Constitution, as amended in Section 121, which grants financial independence to the legislature. All we are advocating for is the government’s adherence to this constitutional provision. When we refer to 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 nearly everything.”
“We can classify Ekiti as partially implemented because salaries are still under the control of the Accountant General and are not paid within the state assembly,” he continued. It is only a limited implementation until they have a pay point of their own, like to the National Assembly.
According to Usman Mohammed, the National President of PASAN, Jigawa is progressively approaching autonomy, whereas Plateau and Lagos already have it.
“The Constitution does not permit partial implementation; under Section 121, the state legislature has been granted autonomy,” he emphasized. It requires that any money intended for the judiciary and the state legislature be moved to their accounts. It includes all of the funds; it doesn’t only say to transfer capital, labor costs, or overhead.