Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja explained the delays in the autonomy of state legislatures, blaming it on constitutional constraint.
This is even as the speakers of the 36 state Houses of Assembly have called on him to issue an executive order on the implementation of full autonomy for state legislatures to force implementation.
According to a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari have the explanation at the when he received the Conference of Speakers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He urged lawmakers in the country to always place interest of the people first in all deliberations and negotiations.
President Buhari said the constitution upholds the standard for all public officers and institutional operations. He said it must be adhered to, or altered to reflect some dynamics and realities of the country.
“I try as much as I can to always be loyal and obedient to the constitution so long as it is humanly possible,” he said.
He affirmed that his administration will keep pursuing the prosperity of all Nigerians by creating more jobs for the people, and plugging the weaknesses exploited by many to make quick money.
“The 8th National Assembly sometimes kept the budget for seven months. And I had to call the Senate President and the Speaker then. I told them by delaying passage of the budget you are not hurting Buhari, but the people,” he added.
President Buhari said the delay persisted in spite of his efforts to seek more understanding.
He reiterated his commitment to ensure equity and fairness that put the ordinary Nigerian on top priority, assuring that he will continue to focus on health, education, infrastructure and improving lives through social intervention programmes.
“We have in the last four years dedicated significant resources to key social services sectors especially in health, education as well as our massive social investment programs. We have also started restoring our infrastructure to levels that this country expects.
“I also want to assure you that we remain committed to ensuring that equity and fairness prevail in governance. I will ensure that we consult your conference to further enhance the positive impact of our interventions across the country,” he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Conference of Speakers, who is also the Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, commended the President for the fight against corruption and insurgency, and efforts to ensure financial autonomy for the legislature and judiciary.
Obasa said the legislatures would be further pleased if the President issues an executive order directing the Accountant General of the Federation to separate funds for the state legislature and judiciary at source.
He also urged the President to consider supporting the devolution of powers to states on some issues on the exclusive list like railway and the police for more effective governance.
Speaking with State House Correspondents after the meeting later, Obasa said though the amended 1999 Constitution had incorporated the independence and financial autonomy for state legislatures, it was not being implemented in many states.
According to him, a presidential intervention by way of an executive order would fast-track the implementation across the Federation.
“So, we are urging Mr President to intervene and speed up the implementation.
“We urged the President to come in by an executive order for this implementation to move faster”, Obasa stated.