From Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof Abubakar Sulaiman, has stressed the need for state Houses of Assembly to enhance their capacity in order to maximally manage the financial autonomy granted them by the Fourth Constitutional Alteration and Executive Order 10.
Speaking at the opening of Capacity Building Workshop for members of Enugu House of Assembly at Ibom Icon Hotel, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Sulaiman said the conceptualisation of the autonomy would require improved capacity within the Assembly itself, as such NILDS would not leave the room for the executive to maneuver and delay the process.
‘As you are well aware, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum has passed the buck to the legislature, insisting that the delay on the part of the NGF is because some legal and administrative bottlenecks are yet to be finalized in some state assembles. We have all worked too hard to allow for such distractions,’ he said.
‘It is in this regard that I wish to commend PASAN members of the civil society and leadership of the National Assembly who have put their weight behind the push by the conference of speakers on the actualisation of the autonomy.
‘Equally, we must commend the government of President Muhammadu Buhari for revisiting the issue of autonomy. Only on Monday, 11th April 2021, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said that the federal government was determined to push through the content of EO 10 and there is “No going back” on the matter.’
He said some of the presentations at the training would deepen the understanding of members on critical budget issues that pertain to preparation and defence.
According to him; ‘this is particularly important when MDAs appear before Standing Committees to defend their annual appropriations. The Assembly should not merely rubber-stamp executive budget proposals but carefully scrutinise and amend them as deemed appropriate by the Assembly. This can arise from its law-making powers and oversight functions, which sometimes point the legislature to gaps or defects that require legislative intervention.’
The Speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Mr Andrew Obosi, had earlier commended NILDS as well as KAS, the official sponsors of the workshop for their efforts in building their capacity of the members.
‘I have been a three term member of the state house of assembly and I can tell you that this series of workshops have really been helpful to all our members, including even the new members. When we came in newly, if you give me this microphone to speak, I will dodge. But now we are well school. If NILDs and KAS continue like the=is , democracy will continue to grow in Nigeria.
Similarly, the leader of the Enugu House of Assembly, Mr Ezeogwu Ikechukwu, who said said he was the brain behind the initial training when he KAS to the Assembly, said the workshop has made a great difference in their legislative duties.