Speakers Seek Financial Autonomy

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The positive impact of financial autonomy and self-accounting granted to the Lagos State House of Assembly has resulted in agitation for same by the Conference of Speakers in the country.

Announcing that the clamour for self accounting had started from yesterday, the Chairman of the Speakers’ Conference and Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly, Mohammed Inuwa, said everything possible would be done to get the various state House of Assembly of financially independent of the 35 other state executives.

Inuwa, who spoke at a news conference inside the new ultra-modern chamber of the Lagos State House of Assembly with the majority of the Speakers of state Houses of Assembly in attendance, said it was now a unanimous decision that state legislatures must be seen as actually independent of the executive. He said the conference had realised that one way to build a virile democracy especially at this critical period of the nation’s history is for the citizens of the nation to join the state Assemblies in this clamour.

He agreed that though this would not be an easy fight, with the co-operation of indigenes and residents of the states, it is achievable. The conference said the Speakers had unanimously agreed that what they met on ground in Lagos was an eye-opener to what they have been lacking in their various states, adding that the success of the Speaker of Lagos State, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, would not easily be forgotten.

“What the Lagos State House of Assembly and the State Government have done is a testimony that democracy has come to stay and that we have people who have the vision and courage to make enormous sacrifices to bring about the development of democratic governance in Nigeria through building a formidable force,” he said while emphasising that the association would continue to support its colleagues to see that they become as successful as Lagos legislature. As a result of the success recorded in Lagos, he said the Conference has concluded that state legislatures must be given their rightful place in the scheme of things.

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“Each House of Assembly must now have the capacity, the autonomy to give better legislation to Nigerians and that is why we have kick-started discussions on how financial autonomy for state legislatures would be achieved so that Nigeria’s democracy would meet international standard.

“Most of the Speakers here came with the members of the Houses of Assembly to see what Lagos is doing and I hope and pray that someday, we would be in another state to celebrate such success,” he added while appealing to journalists to join in the struggle for the freedom of the legislative arm of the country’s government.

Reacting to the earlier stand by state Houses of Assembly (except Lagos State) against autonomy in the last constitutional review, he said the current demand should not be seen as the lawmakers’ demand but a demand that would deepen and strengthen democracy in the country.

—Eromosele Ebhomele