Financial autonomy: Enough of executive slavery, parliamentary workers declare

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The Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) across the 36 states of the federation Tuesday commenced an industrial action over non-implementation of the financial autonomy for the state legislatures.

The decision, Blueprint reports, was in compliance with the directives of the national body of the association asking PASAN members nationwide to embark on an indefinite strike to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the second arm of government.

The bill for financial autonomy for the state legislature was passed by the National Assembly in 2018, while President Muhammadu Buhari also followed up with a Presidential Order 10 which gave bite to the law.

 But three years after, the law was yet to be implemented in all the states of the federation, a reason the state legislative workers stopped activities at their various assemblies.  

Jigawa

In Dutse, the Jigawa chapter sealed and barricaded the entrance to the state House of Assembly with vehicles over government’s failure to implement the financial autonomy.

Speaking to journalists in Dutse, PASAN chairman, Umar Kazaure, said the union embarked on an indefinite strike following the elapse of the ultimatum earlier given to federal government, effective from January 27,2021 for a full implementation of financial autonomy for all the state legislatures across Nigeria.

Kazaure explained that their members were patient enough for two years after President Buhari signed the financial autonomy into law, but without being implemented by state governors

 He said they would press on with their demands until they were met.

The union leader further said, as part of the 21-day ultimatum, they agreed that if the government fails to address the demand, a nationwide strike would shut down the National Assembly, the National Assembly Service Commissions, all State Houses of Assembly and all state Houses of Assembly Service Commission.

They further called on the Presidential Implementation Committee on Financial Autonomy for State Judiciaryand Legislature to ensure full implementation of financial autonomy in all the 36 state Houses of Assembly as provided in section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and in Executive Order 10 among others.

Gombe

Similarly, the Gombe state chapter of PASAN has called on governors in the country to prove their loyalty to the Nigeria constitution by complying with the presidential order on legislative autonomy.

The union, during a protest at the State House of Assembly to commence its strike, and the shutting down of the assembly complex, said its members were  protesting governors’  failure to uphold the constitutional provision

The PASAN Chairman in the state, Muhammad Bello Dukku, said governors must be compelled to obey the law on Nigeria legislative autonomy signed by President Buhari in 2018.

He said: “After signing the bill, the president issued an executive order 2020 for all the 36 states legislative to be independent and autonomous. But, up till this moment, we have not seen the implementation.

“Nigeria Governors Forum halted the implementation of Order 10, which is why we came out today to showNigerians that principles of separation of power and constitution are not upholding. These people swore to uphold provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and up till now the reverse is the case,” Dukku said

Lagos

The situation was the same at the Lagos state House of Assembly where the legislative workers shut down the Assembly.
In a statement by its Chairman, Comrade Adele Adewale Taofiq, a copy of which was made available to journalists, the PASAN chapter held a preparatory congress at the early hour of Tuesday during which the commencement of the strike action was announced. 

“You could recall that the bedrock of Parliamentary Autonomy hinges on Financial Independence. Autonomy in this context is simply defined as non-dependence and non-subordination of Parliaments in relation to the Executive.
“This non-dependence and non-subordination as stated above is in terms of unfettered control over financial and other related resources.
“Therefore, according to the best practice the “Parliaments should have equitable access to resources”. As such, Parliaments by Constitutional arrangements are supposed to have enough financial muscle to carry out their legislative mandate, including exercising power over the budget.
“This is consistent with the Latimer principles that state that “parliament should have control of and authority to determine and secure their budgetary requirements unconstrained by the Executive, save for budgetary constraints dictated by national circumstances,” the statement read.
Adele added that parliaments should assert their role as a Separate Arm of Government, which he said includes the fact that “they should be independent from the Executive in the way they organise themselves, control over their own timetable and the ability to recall themselves outside normal session if by circumstances so as required.”

He further explained   that the principle of autonomy in practice, involved a number of different aspects, including parliamentary responsibility for its own staffing; and control over its own budget.

This, the union leader said, also included “organisation of its own business with all these essential features so that they will be able to operate efficiently and exercise effective oversight over a range of policy issues affecting people.

“On this note, it’s very obvious that the struggle we set out and agreed to fight in order to liberate the Legislative Arm of Government and Nigeria Democracy is finally upon us.  

“Notifications have been given in line with the Provisions of the Trade Disputes Act of the Federation, yet no response from the Government.”

Nasarawa

 Addressing PASAN members in Nsarawa state, the chapter Chairman, Comrade Danlami Nuhu Iliyasu, said financial autonomy was constitutional and appealed to the 36 state governors to respect the Executive Order 10. 

He said financial autonomy would boost legislative activities across the nation thereby bringing development to the country

 Iliyasu declared that the Assembly gate would remain closed until they receive another directive from its national body.

“As long as we did not receive any further directives from the national body, the gate will remain closed,” he said.

 Members were seen carrying placards with different inscriptions such as ‘no autonomy, no work,’ justicedelayed is justice denied’, financial autonomy is non-negotiable, autonomy is constitutional, ‘Governors’ forum must respect the Constitution’ among several others.

Speakers assure

However, Speakers of the 36 Houses of Assembly in Nigeria are at the verge of concluding talks with the 36 state governors in the country, towards achieving financial autonomy for the legislative arm of government across the nation.

 Speaker Oyo State House of Assembly Adebo Ogundoyin disclosed this to journalists Tuesday shortly after addressing the state legislative workers.

 Like their counterparts in other states, they shut down all the gates of the assembly complex.

The aggrieved legislative workers shut down the Agodi complex of the Oyo Assembly in Ibadan.

Addressing the workers, Ogundoyin said: “I want to use this medium to appreciate the PASAN, because without you we can’t be a legislative arm of government. I know that PASAN remains the landlord of the legislative arm of government and it is our responsibility to build PASAN, as well the civil service. We appreciate, encourage and support you in all your endeavours.

 “I know that whatever you fight for is a responsible fight and it’s your right. What you are fighting for can only build the legislative arm of government. The lawmakers and I will always support what will bring development to the legislative arm of government as long as you are united.

“I can guarantee you that the autonomy for the State House of Assembly nationwide will be granted by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). We understand the agitation by PASAN across the federation and I can assure you that the speakers’ forum has been working on the autonomy for the States House of Assembly in order for us to achieve this during our tenure.

 “We have had series of meetings at the Conference of Speakers, even with the Governors’ Forum. With what is on ground and the progress we have made, we are almost at the finishing line. Details of the meeting at the ongoing Governors’ Forum will be released at the appropriate time. I thank PASAN for the steps taken because it has been long overdue for the legislative arm of government to have its financial autonomy.

 “The only stumbling block is that the Governors’ Forum wants to go about the financial autonomy at the same time and same method of implementation. No state will go about it in different ways because that will bring about uniformity and once that arises, some states will be at an advantage as compared to some other states. The general consensus is that we will use one method for all the states and that will bring about rapid development and independence for the Houses of Assembly nationwide.

 “The truth about this situation is that now that it has got to this point, it could have been resolved long before now. But it is unfortunate that the PASAN from the national level to the state has taken a unilateral decision in order to make the strike indefinite until the financial autonomy is approved. The situation is not unique to Oyo State but across the federation.”

 Clad in their uniform and led by their leader,  Yemi Alade, the legislative workers carried placards with various inscriptions which read: ‘Give us our autonomy. Enough is enough’, ‘We say no to executive slavery’, ‘Legislative arm is a separate arm of government’, ‘AGF, implement Order 10, 2020’, and ‘Legislative financial autonomy is a constitutional right.”

Govs behind our woes

Addressing the workers, Alade accused governors of frustrating the implementation of financial autonomy for the legislative arm of government.

“We are fighting for the non-implementation of our financial autonomy. It is a provisional constitution of theFederal Republic of Nigeria. Having observed that with the current emasculation of the legislative arm of government, there can be no true democracy.

“The bill has been passed since 2018, then in May, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari also capped it up with a Presidential Order 10. But, up till now, they are yet to implement it. And this is a fundamental provision of the constitution which has been relegated to the background.

“As a member of staff of the House of Assembly, if there is no true democracy, no independence, it will affect the democracy of the country. It is affecting the entire country, not only the staff of the House of Assembly because the principle of separation of power stipulates that each arm of government must act separately and if there is no financial autonomy, all other arm of government would be in slavery to the executive arm.

 “Our grievances are against both the state and federal government. There is a presidential order that mandated them to implement this financial autonomy but the Governors’ Forum is the one behind the non-implementation. And we want to know if there is any other law or individual who is greater than the constitution of the country that is why we had to come out to embark on the strike because, if there could be a presidential order, which was not followed, then there is a serious problem in the country.”

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