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ON Friday last week, President Muhammadu Buhari took bold steps worthy of adulation: he signed some vital bills passed and sent to him by the National Assembly into laws among which are bills that granted financial autonomy to state legislature and judiciary. What makes this step so remarkable is the fact that there has been a lot of debate on the need for independence of state legislature and judiciary, but power drunk state governors fought it to stand still.

Expectedly, this new laws should signal a definitive end to the exploitation and tyranny of state governors who stifle other arms of government – legislature and judiciary – thereby denying them independence as truly deserving in any constitutional democracy in order to allow effective check and balances in government operations. It is the same way they killed the local government system in Nigeria through dubious illegal joint accounts system – state and local government accounts – wherein they use to milk states dry.

There are a number of other bills signed into law by the president. This revelation was made by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, during his interaction with the State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Senator Enang enthused that “I just want to inform you that His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari today assented to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill which grants financial autonomy and independence to the Houses of Assembly of the respective states and to the Judiciary of the respective states.

“Therefore, upon this signature, the amounts standing to the credit of the judiciary are now to be paid directly to the judiciary of those states, no more through the governors and no more from the governors. And then the amounts standing to the credit of the Houses of Assembly of the respective states are now to be paid directly to the Houses of Assembly of that state for the benefit of the legislators and the management of the States Houses of Assembly”, he said.

Other bills signed into law include Constitution Amended 21 that deals with determination of pre election matters which has reduced the date and time of determining pre-election matters; Act number 16 which stops a Vice President who succeeds the president and where a deputy governor succeeds a governor, from recontesting more than once; another amendment empowers Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct bye-elections within a space of 21 days.

According to Enang, “The other amendment is Bill number 9 which gives the Independent National Electoral Commission sufficient time to conduct bye-elections” from the previous 7 days to 21 days.

We acknowledge this important landmark event at this stage of our country and democracy. It can be admitted that this act has expanded our democratic space, strengthened our democratic principles and practices in the country. Indeed, this teaches us a fundamental lesson in governance that when the executive and legislature work harmoniously together, they can achieve a lot to move this country forward rather than sacrificing national interest for selfish interests as often charaterise the present system.

We are also using this opportunity to challenge the two arms of government to yet synergise towards liberating the local governments from the imperial control of state governors, greedy and unpatriotic political godfathers who have destroyed democracy at the local level and keep pilfering local government funds thereby making it impossible for it to function as a third tier of government.

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This post was syndicated from Nigerian Pilot News. Click here to read the full text on the original website.


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