By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
Governors of the 36 states of the federation were on Thursday unanimous that the autonomy of the states’ judiciary and legislature cannot be compromised if the nation must achieve its goal of sustainable democracy.
The governors under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum, therefore threw their weight behind the implementation of financial autonomy of the two arms of government at the states level, saying it will ensure Nigeria attains the highest level of transparency and openness in governance.
Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, gave this assurance at the opening of a two-day conference on the implementation of autonomy of state legislature and state judiciary in Abuja.
He said the states will work with the federal government to achieve the implementation strategy and ultimately ensure full autonomy of the legislature and judiciary at the sub-national levels.
Represented by Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, Yari noted that though Nigeria’s democracy is 20 years old, it has not been a smooth sail.
He however commended the current administration’s focus on ensuring that rough as the journey may have been, it will surely take the nation to the promised land.
Yari added that the condition for a sustainable democracy includes the autonomy of the legislature and the judiciary.
He said: “I totally aligned with the motion that the legislature and judiciary autonomy are necessary precondition for an enduring democracy. This enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability in government. May I also assure you that the state governors are collectively committed to the enthronement of a strong and viral democracy in Nigeria and would work with the federal government to achieve the National implementation strategy and ultimately ensure fully autonomy of the legislature and judiciary at sub-national levels.
“The NGF fully supports Mr. President reform agenda and share its passion for transparency and zero corruption. We commend the efforts of the committee in putting together this very decisive conference to see that Nigeria attends the highest level of transparency and openness in governance.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, commended President Buhari for his assent to the bill, noting that autonomy is central to the practice of democracy especially separation of powers
Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu noted that local government areas need to be strengthened he therefore urged state assemblies to act fast.
He also advocated for State Police, thanking the federal government for it’s interest in the implementation of the law.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly matters (Senate) who is also the Secretary of the panel, Ita Enang, commended the those who attended the conference.
He said: “We are impressed by the attendant. Out of 36 states, 34 of the chief judges of the federation are here, and 31 speakers are also here in person while the rest of them are presented at this conference.
“The report and recommendation of the retreat will be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari and the implementation at the state level will start immediately in the next one week after the resolution of this retreat.”
On what the implementation portends for governance at the state level, Enang said: “What it portends is that the judiciary will be able to deliver the judgement without fear or favour and that their allocation will not be released to them or their salaries will not be paid, the court will not be renovated, or the chief judge will be removed or any judge will be removed. And the legislature will be able to legislate without fear that the government will have a hold on them in terms of withholding their allocation. Because, money due to the judiciary will go to the account of the judiciary directly and money due to the legislature will go to the account of the legislature directly.
“Finally, it is intended to ensure that money for the judiciary is not spent for the judiciary or on the judiciary but it is spent by the judiciary for the judiciary and on the judiciary and the same goes for the legislature.”