A leading civil society organisation in the country, Parliamentary Advocacy Network (PAN), has described as unfortunate, the disdain and lack of respect governors accord members of the various State Houses of Assembly.
It said lawmakers in many States, appear like paupers and are often treated like errand boys by governors, due to their many years of lack of financial autonomy for State Assemblies.
The Organisation spoke against the backdrop of President Muhammadu Buhari’s signing into law bills granting full financial autonomy to both the Legislative and the Judicial Arms of Government in the States.
Convener of the Advocacy Group, Prince Sunny Anderson Osiebe, and the General Secretary, Mr. Fred Itua, in a communique released after a meeting held in Abuja, said that history will be kind to President Muhammadu Buhari for some of the landmark reforms and achievements that he has made in the nation’s polity.
The Advocacy Group, said the signing into law by Mr. President of some 35 bills presented earlier this year to him by the outgoing 9th Assembly as part of the result of the Constitution alteration exercise embarked upon by the lawmakers, was an action that defines patriotism.
While calling on the governors across the States not to treat the new laws as another set of insignificant aspects of our statutes, the Group observed that the signing of the bills, which will now make for better independence and more productivity of the other arms of government at the level of the States, was a step in the right direction, as the nation evolves in its quest to becoming an ideal democracy in the comity of other democratic nations of the world.
It also urged the 10th National Assembly and the incoming government to strive to deepen democracy in Nigeria the more from where the current democratic State actors will leave off in the next few months by ensuring that the issue of financial autonomy for the 774 Local Government Councils still remains germane to achieving the needed development at the level of government that is closest to the people.
The group decried a situation where State Assemblies have for the umpteenth time continued to shy away from issues surrounding financial autonomy for the Councils; while adding that it makes nonsense of any elections at the Councils if Council chairmen, who emerge from the usually defective exercise at the level of the States called Local Government elections, do not directly receive what is due to their Councils from the Federation Account.
The communique read: “We call on the incoming 10th Assembly and the emerging Administration to demonstrate real patriotism and go beyond what the current leaders have done to make a decisive statement on the autonomy of our Local Government Councils!
“We find it quite curious and disingenuous in the operations of our current democratic structure that monies intended for Council Areas are still being channeled to them through the highly-criticised State-and-LG Joint Accounts. What we are indirectly saying is that elected Council Chairmen and their Council members cannot be trusted to judiciously handle the funds allocated to them, yet they are expected to account for such funds. This is why our Governors are still having a field day with the Local Government funds. We think this is one issue the 10th Assembly and the Incoming Administration must revisit with all sense of patriotism.”
Others present at the meeting were the National Organising Secretary, Omor Bazuaye; and the Legal Adviser, Barr. Abdulkadir Iliya.
Recall that, before departing Abuja for Daura for the Governorship and the State Assembly elections on Friday, President Buhari had signed into law some of the bills arising from the Constitution alteration exercise carried out some time ago by the current National Assembly.
Among the new Acts are those transferring matters relating to the nation’s electricity generation and distribution and the building of railways, both of which were transferred from the Federal Exclusive List to the Concurrent List in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(As Amended).