Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari said efforts to ensure autonomy for state legislatures and judiciary would further strengthen democracy and deepen inclusiveness of citizens by guaranteeing fairness for ordinary Nigerians.
Buhari, who spoke when he received report of the Presidential Implementation Committee on Financial Autonomy of State Legislature and Judiciary, in Abuja, yesterday, said the government would study the report and recommendations, and take an appropriate decision.
“I went through a terrible time getting here for the three times I contested elections. That’s why I want to stabilise the system so that others will not pass through the same experience.
“Both young and ordinary Nigerians depend on leadership to ensure justice is always done. So, we must ensure that trust is not compromised. This administration will take the report seriously,” he stated.
Coming in the wake of the directive of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) on local government funds, if the plan to grant autonomy to the legislature and executive scales through, it would further whittle down the power and influence of governors as the two organs would be on first line charge.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted Chairman of the Committee and immediate past Minister Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, as saying that the committee consulted with state governors, chief judges of states, speakers of state Houses of Assembly, civil society organizations and relevant stakeholders, including members of the public.
The Committee was inaugurated by President Buhari on March 22, 2019, to fashion out strategies and modalities for implementation of the financial autonomy of the state legislature and state judiciary in compliance with Section 121 (3) of the 1999 constitution (As Amended).
Malami said implementation of the recommendations will entrench constitutionalism, democratic principles and separation of powers.
“The recommendations clearly spell out that if uniform modules for implementation of financial autonomy for state legislature and state judiciary are approved for implementation across 36 states, it will no doubt strengthen Nigeria’s democratic principles, practices and public governance,’’ he said.
He explained that the committee had observed that most states honoured the constitutional provisions for financial autonomy in the breach than in observance, noting that the legislature and judiciary remain the last hope of the common man and should be given autonomy.
Speaking to State House Correspondents after submitting the report, Malami, said President Buhari will soon issue an Executive Order on the implementation of the independence of States’ Legislature and Judiciary
The Executive Order will bring into effect the provisions of Section 121 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
On when the implementation will commence, Malami said the president will issue an Executive Order for the enforcement of the constitutional provisions
“Well, the independence has already been established by the Constitution so, it is now about the implementation of the modalities and amongst the recommendations made to Mr. President is an Executive Order by the President designed to give effect to the implementation of section 121 which Constitutionally establishes the independence of the two arms of government.
“So, it is about the application, operation and enforcement of the provisions of the Constitution and with the signing of the Executive Order, I believe the necessary formalities of the whole hearted implementation of this provisions will come into effect.”
The former chief law officer disclosed that with the submission of the reports, the committee has concluded its assignment substantially by way of making available to the president, an interim report indicating the modalities to follow, with due observance of the provisions of the section 121 and due observance of the sustenance of the independence of the States Legislature and Judiciary.
“So, it’s about the Constitutional order, it’s about the sustenance of the requirements of the Constitution as it relates to the independence of the legislature and the judiciary and the committee has presented its report to Mr. President.”
On the appropriateness of his continued membership of the committee despite cabinet dissolution, Malami noted that although he was no longer Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, the president has the prerogative to give him any assignment
“I am here based on the powers of Mr. President who exercises the powers of his prerogatives to appoint anyone, and as a Nigerian for that matter. This remains a prerogative of Mr. President” he said.