By Kingsley Okoye
A Rights Activist, Mr Cletus Uwakina, has called on the 36 states governors to support the granting of financial autonomy to the Judicial, Legislative and Local Government arms and tier of government in the country.
Uwakina, who is the President, Crusaders Advocacy Initiative.(CAI) made the call in a statement in Abuja.
He said that the eventual support of governors for the granting of autonomy would be the best gift to the people, who voted them to power.
” If this autonomies are granted, it will go a long way to strengthen the cardinal institutions of democracy in Nigeria,”he said.
Uwakina said that lack of financial autonomy for the legislative and judicial arms of government had been a long-standing issue, noting that the judiciary, was even guaranted such autonomy prior to the fourth alteration of the constitution.
“The continued dependence of the judiciary on the executive arm of government for its budgeting and funds release is directly responsible for the present state of underfunding of the judiciary.
“It is responsible for poor and inadequate judicial infrastructure, low morale among judicial personnel, alleged corruption in the judiciary.
“Delays in administration of justice and judicial service delivery, and general low quality and poor out-put by the judiciary.
“Another outcome of the state executive’s control of the purse strings is the notion that houses of assembly are rubber stamps of state governors,”he noted.
He said that the efficiency of the legislature hinges on its independence, this Uwakina noted was inextricably tied to its financial autonomy.
“The ability of state legislatures to truly provide checks and balances for the state executives is reduced to nothing when the lawmakers have to
lobby and practice eye-service for the purpose of accessing funds that legitimately belong to them.
“The practice, where the legislature and the judiciary often have to beg the executive for funds for its operations, the piecemeal allocation of funds, through the states’ Ministries of Finance, at the pleasure of the executive is undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
He said that on May 22, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari had signed Executive Order 10, which seeks to establish financial autonomy of the legislature and judiciary at the state level.
“The president’s executive order authorises the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from source, the money due to the legislatures and judiciaries of states from the monthly allocations of states.
” It is on record that since the order was made by the President, only the government of the FCT, Abuja has complied.”
He said that implementation of financial autonomy of the state legislature and state judiciary would strengthen the institutions at the state and make them more independent and accountable in line with tenets of democracy as enshrined in1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He, however, said that the 36 state governors instead of complying, were challenging the power of the President to make the order.
According to him,the suffocation and subversion of
local government autonomy is more pronounced at the financial and
leadership recruitment levels than in any other areas of intergovernmental relation.
Uwakina also urged representatives at the State and National Assemblies and Nigerians in general to join the struggle for judicial, legislative and local government autonomy.(NAN)