“We are taken aback that the fight in defence of autonomy for State Houses of Assembly has been abandoned by national legislature and left for parliamentary staff. Is it not very obvious that many of the present Senators are aspiring to return to their respective states and become governors.
Similarly, serving state governors want to go to the Senate as Senators.
There is no way therefore that this political conspirators will allow state lawmakers to have financial autonomy”/
Members of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), last week, paralyzed legislative activities at state Houses of Assemblies as a result of peaceful protests. What was most striking was the objective of their protest. It was not for wage increase or welfare issues; it was a democratic activism for autonomy for state legislature.
Consistently, we have contended that constitutional or representative democracy is still a big issue, an imperiled commonwealth in Nigeria. We are being constantly reminded again that our political elite are not yet ready to embrace and practice democracy that works in this climes. With special reference to the legislature and its constitutional oversight functions over the executive arm of government, Nigeria is still toddling far behind.
If effective representative democracy at the national level is seen as quasi democracy as a result of overbearing influence of the executive, then the legislature at the States and Local Government levels is half alive and half dead. By inference, a significantly larger proportion of our citizens are still democratic illiterate.
In other words, the freedom and autonomy the law makers need to fully perform their constitutional roles are either robbed or denied thereby eroding healthy democratic culture and tradition. It is upon this platform that PASAN shut down the legislative activities nationwide.
Recall that last month, PASAN had mobilized its members at the National Assembly, the National Assembly Service Commission, all State Houses of Assembly, all State Houses of Assembly Service Commissions and other relevant departments and embarked on a warning strike so as to compel authorities to enforce implementation of autonomy of legislative arm of government across the spectrum is very instructive.
The position of the union is very unequivocal: the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) should implement constitutional autonomy for State Houses of Assembly or else, “the union has resolved to in defence of democracy, issue a 21-day ultimatum to our employers and all other bodies charged with the implementation of letters of our Constitution, including the Federal Government, the Presidential Implementation Committee on Financial Autonomy for State Judiciary and Legislature, to ensure full implementation of financial autonomy in all the 36 State Houses of the Federation as provided in Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended and in Executive Order 10.
We are taken aback that the fight in defence of autonomy for State Houses of Assembly has been abandoned by national legislature and left for parliamentary staff. Is it not very obvious that many of the present Senators are aspiring to return to their respective states and become governors. Similarly, serving state governors want to go to the Senate as Senators. There is no way therefore that this political conspirators will allow state law makers to have financial autonomy.
State governors and political elites in Nigeria do not want virile democracy in Nigeria. Legislative autonomy will bring about effective checks and balances in governance at state level, but governors want to maintain their status as emperors in the states. State Houses of Assembly must therefore, for political conveniences, remain appendages, rubber stamps and glorified democratic slaves to their slave-master-governors. That is why a proportionately large population of our citizens are still democratically and politically illiterate. President Muhammadu Buhari should not allow this misnomer to continue.
It is time to let democracy work in Nigeria by truly democratizing legislature at state level.
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