The thirty- six State Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF have set up a Committee to engage the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN on the effect of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Executive Order granting financial autonomy to the legislature and Judiciary at the state level.
This was one of the highpoints of the communique of the 9th teleconference of the governors under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF).
Rising from the meeting, the NGF has set up a legal committee comprising of governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Simon Lalong of Plateau State and Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State to engage with Malami to reflect on the implications of the recently passed Executive Order 10, 2020 on governance at the Sub-National level.
This was contained in a Communique signed by the NGF Chairman and Ekiti State governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi and issued today Thursday at the end of the 9th teleconference meeting since the lockdown that resulted from the outbreak of the Coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, President Buhari signed the Executive Order into law on Friday last week.
Recall that the federal government had given a very strong warning that any state government which withholds funds meant for their respective Houses of Assembly and judiciary would get their allocations deducted at source by the Accountant General of the Federation and remitted directly to the affected state organs.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on June 8 2018 signed four bills related to the Nigerian Constitution’s Alteration 4th Amendment into law.
A major significance of these bills was the assent to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill which grants financial autonomy and independence to state legislature and to the Judiciary of the respective states
Briefing State House correspondents after signing the bulls. the President’s Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters (Senate as he then was ), Ita Enang, had said the new law grants financial autonomy and independence to Houses of Assembly and judiciary in the states.
He said: “The funds due to the judiciary are now to be paid directly to the judiciary of those states, no more through the governors.”
“And the funds standing in the credit of the Houses of Assembly in the states are now to be paid directly to the Houses of Assembly of the states for the benefit of the legislators and the management of the Houses of Assembly.”
Senator Enang, in the statement, had said:
“I just want to inform you that His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari today assented to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill which grants financial authonomy 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 to now 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. This grants full autonomy now to the judiciary at the state level and the Houses of Assembly at the state level.
“This allows the State Houses of Assembly to operate like the National Assembly does because the National Assembly does not get its budget from the Executive.”
The communique said other issues discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the governors include deliberation on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
According to the communique of the meeting, the NGF Chairman, Kayide Fayemi, briefed State Governors on coordination activities with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, multilateral and bilateral partners, and the private sector through the Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID) that are targeted at improving the COVID-19 response of state governments.
The chairman of the forum further said, “We received brief from Ebrima Faal, Senior Director of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Nigeria on the $1billion COVID-19 crisis facility and update from Zouera Youssoufou, Managing Director and CEO of The Aliko Dangote Foundation on activities of the CACOVID.
He said that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum thereafter resolved to “Interface with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, on the $1 billion COVID-19 crisis facility approved for the country at the request of the Federal Government by the African Development Bank (AfDB), to embark on the delivery of projects that will meet the needs of Nigerians during this period, in such areas as health emergency assistance, agriculture and food security”
He said the meeting resolved to continue engagements with CACOVID to consolidate interventions on the distribution of palliatives to vulnerable Nigerians who had lost their means of livelihood as a result of the coronavirus pandemic;
The governors also resolved to endorse the development of a 3-month plan on reopening the economy by the NEC Sub-Committee that will interface with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 comprising the Governors of Delta (Chairman), Ekiti, Lagos, Anambra, Kano, Bauchi, Plateau and the FCT Minister;
Dr. Fayemi said that the governors through The NEC Ad-Hoc Sub-Committee on COVID-19 comprising the Governors of Kaduna (Chairman), Kebbi, Ebonyi, Ogun, Nasarawa, Edo, and Jigawa, will interface with the Economic Sustainability Committee chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, to incorporate the contributions of state governments in the Economic Sustainability Plan as a national response to the COVID-19 crisis.