The age-long dependence of legislature and Judiciary in 36 states across Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, on Executive for funding is moving closer to an end.
A Bill to grant financial autonomy to State Houses of Assembly and State Judiciaries across 36 states in Nigeria has passed second reading in the country’s House of Representatives.
The Bill entitled: “AN ACT TO ALTER SECTION 121(3) OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1999( AS AMENDED) TO REFLECT THE AUTHORITY OF PERSON MANDATED TO EFFECT PAYMENT AND RECEIVE FUNDING FOR THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY AND JUDICIARIES OF STATES FROM THE CONSOLIDATED REVENUE FUND OF THE FEDERATION, AND FOR RELATED MATTERS 2020,” was sponsored by the Member representing Afikpo North/Afikpo South, Hon. Iduma Igariwey, and passed second reading on Tuesday, July 21, 2020.
When the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, put the matter to a voice vote, it was unanimously adopted and passed second reading.
Gbajabiamila also directed that the bill should be referred to the House Committee on Constitution Review.
According to Hon Igariwey, as it stands now, the expenditure meant for the State Houses of Assembly and the State High Courts is issued from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the State.
The states therefore appropriate for the Houses of Assembly and the Judiciary, he stated, adding that this has grossly affected the independence of the state Legislature and the Judiciary, as they are often starved of funds, or made to dance to the whims and caprices of Governors.
Hon. Igariwey argued that though President Muhammadu Buhari had recently signed Executive Order 10 to cure this tampering with the funds of state legislatures and Judiciary, it did not go far enough because it was bereft of constitutional flavour.
The lawmaker stated that this lacuna had given room for state Governors to push back against the noble intentions of Executive Order 10.
The alteration of Section 121(3) sought by Hon. Igariwey is intended to charge any amount standing in the credit of the Houses of Assembly and the Judiciary of a state, directly upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federationanf to be paid directly to the Heads of the bodies in the states by the Accountant-General of the Federation.
This alteration, he said, would make the two arms of Government at the state level more independent and accountable in line with the tenets of democracy.