By Emma Ovuakporie, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Joseph Erunke, Abuja
Speakers of the 36 states Houses of Assembly yesterday voted against local government financial autonomy in the country.
The speakers, however, braced the odds by approving financial autonomy for states Houses of Assembly which they had initially rejected following pressures from their various state governors.
These were contained in the adopted version of the constitution amendments proposals delivered to the National Assembly by the speakers of the states of the federation yesterday.
The document was handed over to the Chairman of National Assembly and Senate President, Senator David Mark.
However, the vote against local government financial autonomy was seen as a set back as state governors had always disbursed the money at their own whims and caprices.
According to the document, the Conference of Nigeria Speakers also approved the separation of the office of Attorney General of the federation from the Office of the Minister of Justice.
Speaking while transmitting the approved version of the amended constitution, Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Houses Assembly and Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Samuel Ikon, said the state legislatures took a holistic view of some of the items before arriving at their various conclusions.
Ikon said, “Let me announce that, we have exceeded the required figure for financial autonomy for state legislature; we have also met the required figure for separation of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation from the Office of the Minister of Justice. I hope that sections not agreed to may find relevance in future.”
His silence on local council autonomy in the approved amendment, however, was an indication that the lawmakers had technically rejected the amendment to the clause.
Speaking while receiving the document, David Mark, commended the state lawmakers for approving financial autonomy for themselves but expressed reservation on their inability to pass the local government autonomy.
“One of the areas which I think we asked you to approve is the local government autonomy. I don’t know if you had the courage to do that, but if you did not pass it, no problem, it is a continuous exercise.
“I was talking to Senator Ayogu Eze and I said well if that is not passed he should be rest assured that we will pass it before we all leave the National Assembly but I want to congratulate you. “
Mark, also, acknowledged the speed with which the State Assemblies attended to the issue, adding, “I want to assure you and other Nigerians that we in the National Assembly will also act very swiftly and we will do our own work as timely as possible.