The Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria met with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, November 21, 2019 and discussed issues of national importance, which, according to its Chairman, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, would help the growth of the country.
The demands, Obasa noted, were parts of what he described as ‘issues of national importance’.
Obasa, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, first recalled Buhari’s gains as the President of the country, first of which he said was his doggedness in the fight against corruption.
The Speakers noted that Buhari’s courage was partly what resulted in the passage of and assent to the fourth alteration to the 1999 constitution (as amended) which, among others, granted financial autonomy to both state legislatures and the judiciary.
Obasa then urged the President to come up with an executive order on financial autonomy to state legislatures and the judiciary.
“Many State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria and state judiciary have continued to suffer the challenge of relying on the executive arm for funding even, when they are acclaimed independent arms of the government. This may have hampered their successes in most cases,” he said.
Obasa urged the Buhari to rely on the constitutionally guaranteed power for an executive order for effective implementation of the act, which the president recently signed granting financial autonomy to the state legislatures and judiciary.
To this end, the Speakers demanded that the executive order should be such that would mandate the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct allocations for the state legislatures and judiciary from source for any state that errs in releasing the budget of state legislatures and judiciary to them.
They also demanded devolution of powers from the federal government to states.
The Speakers, through Obasa, said that the federal government needed to shed some of its weight by devolving power to the states by reducing some items in the ‘exclusive list’ to the concurrent list.
According to the Speakers, railway, police and such important areas of the system should be expanded to states.
“Similarly, while we appreciate many landmark policies introduced by this administration in the health sector, we want to appeal to Your Excellency to charge the relevant ministries and agencies with a view to ensuring better access to essential health facilities and medicare by the masses in the grassroots,” the Speakers said.
The Speakers however, wanted President Muhammadu Buhari to create a time from his busy schedule to relate with them, understand their challenges, progress and share ideas with them.
Just like governors and ministers make the entourage of Buhari, especially on foreign official trips, the Speakers demanded for an opportunity to travel with the president.
They stated that this would assist in broadening their knowledge about governance, its issues and targeted solutions.