By Ebunoluwa Sessou
Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies and also the Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, has said that the rationale behind lobbying President Mohammadu Buhari is to ensure that all states legislatures and judiciary are given financial autonomy.
He disclosed this when the 36 Speakers paid a courtesy visit to President Buhari at his Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday.
The courtesy visit was armed with some demands, which, according to Obasa, would help with the growth of the country. The demands, he noted, are a part of what sums up as ‘issues of national importance’.
Obasa on behalf of his colleagues lamented that many 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 government. Adding that, this may have hampered their successes in most cases.
While urging President 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.
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.
On devolution of powers from the federal government to states, the speakers, through Obasa, said the federal government needs 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, items like railway, police and such may be expanded to states, he said.
“Similarly, while we appreciate many landmark policies introduced by this administration in the health sector, we want to appeal that the relevant ministries and agencies be charged with a view to ensuring better access to essential health facilities and medicare by the masses at the grassroots,” he said.