From Fred Itua, Abuja
The war of words between leaders of the National Assembly and Speakers of the 36 state Assemblies, may further escalate in the coming days, if the latter refuses to burge on their list of demands.
The new face off, Daily Sun has gathered, would drag in the governors, who are believed to be behind the masks, urging on speakers to delay the ongoing Constitution Amendment exercise.
Last week, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who doubles as chairman of the Constitution Review Committee, told newsmen in Abuja that Speakers, in a letter addressed to them, made a list of four demands that must be included in the ongoing Constitution Amendment before they would support the move.
He said speakers were demanding creation of state police, among others, before they would vote on the 44 bills sent to them for concurrence.
So far, only Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Delta, Edo, Kaduna, Katsina, Kogi, Lagos, Ogun and Osun states have successfully considered, voted on, and forwarded their resolutions on the 44 bills to the National Assembly.
Before the bills are signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, at least 24 State Houses of Assembly must concur. So far, only 11 have voted.
In the latest development, Daily Sun reliably gathered that the various labour unions, spearheaded by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), were mobilising to cripple activities in the 25 Houses of Assembly yet to work on the pending bills.
A member of the Constitution Review Committee, who spoke to Daily Sun in confidence, said the National Assembly was ready to fight dirty since it has nothing to lose anymore.
He said the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), which controls the bureaucracy in all the 36 State Houses of Assembly, were mobilising to shutdown activities across the Federation.
He said the planned shutdown of the various state Houses of Assembly, would cripple the consideration and passage into law of budgets of the States for next year.
He said NLC and local government unions across the country, would also mobilise and take the battle to various Government Houses to compel governors to support the call.
The senator said Omo-Agege and the entire leadership of the National Assembly, have also reached out to the Presidency to prevail on governors to shift grounds on the issue.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari supports many components of the ongoing Constitution Amendment, especially autonomy for local governments, which he tried, but without success to unbundle, through an Executive Order.
“The National Assembly has reached a point where it has nothing to lose anymore. We’ve exhausted all avenues to try and resolve these issues. It appears that the governors and their errand boys who are speakers of the various Houses of Assembly, are ready to frustrate the entire process because of planned autonomy for Local Governments.
“The various Labour Unions are going to mobilise and shutdown States. PASAN which controls the bureaucracy of the Parliaments across Nigeria will do same. Local Government Unions won’t be left out.
“These speakers and their governors are fighting the entire country and we won’t go down without a fight. We’ve tried for many years to do this and no success.
“President Buhari is ready to sign the bills that will grant full autonomy to Local Government. Financial and Administrative Autonomy are needed for Nigerians to appreciate the country’s democracy.
“In the coming days, Nigerians will witness what we’re talking about. If we fail, it will be on record that we tried. But this arrogance by governors must be challenged.”