Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu has blamed the ongoing nationwide strike of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) on the refusal of Nigerian Governors to grant autonomy to state legislatures.
According to Okechukwu, President Muhammadu Buhari, signed Executive Order 10, 2020, to give life to financial autonomy of the State legislatures and Judiciary, but the Governors quickly adopted a bi-partisan toga to challenge and block Buhari’s restructuring policy at the Supreme Court.
In a statement on Sunday in Abuja, Okechukwu bemoaned the truism that the blockade has today led to the nationwide strike action PASAN, thereby paralyzing the activities of legislatures at the state level nationwide.
He said, “One is at a loss why the Governors are intransigent even after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Executive Order 10, 2020 to give life to financial autonomy of State legislatures and Judiciary.
“Imagine that in their opposition to Executive Order 10, they quickly adopted bi-partisan toga and headed to hang it on the maze of the Supreme Court’s shelf. This is a wake-up call to hold our Governors accountable and hasten good governance.”
Okechukwu appealed to the state Governors to stop blocking Buhari’s restructuring policy by granting financial autonomy to State Legislatures as enshrined in Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
He urged Governors to grant financial autonomy to state legislatures as this will not only halt the ongoing nationwide protest by PASAN, but become the entry point of real restructuring of our dear country, adding that “the independence of the legislature at the state level is one of the bedrock of liberal democracy.”
“For the avoidance of doubt the Executive Order 10 is aimed at advancing financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as Amended).”
“The objective of Executive Order 10 is to strengthen the legislative and judiciary institutions at the state level, make them more independent and more transparent.
“This is why it is painful that even APC governors are in league with opposition governors in going to the Supreme Court to block Buhari’s restructuring.”
Asked why he rates the financial autonomy to state legislatures as Buhari’s restructuring policy, he explained: “Methinks it is fundamental and real entry point to restructuring because today what we have as Governors are actually Emperors. Emperors in the sense that they preside over rubber stamp legislatures and less than independent judiciary, worsened by local councils handpicked and not elected as envisioned by Section 7 of our Constitution.”
“Let us support this arsenal meant to advance democracy at the sub-national level. If you like make it the stepping stone to more elaborate restructuring. For without democracy at this tier of government, we will be surreptitiously running monarchy where Emperors preside. Imagine what will happen with State Police in the hands of governors who are presiding over Rubber-Stamp Legislatures, unelected local government councils, and pliable State Judiciary?”
He maintained that the Executive Order 10 is the harbinger of True Restructuring, as it will remove the shield of “I pass my neighbour syndrome,” which camouflage Governors sometimes less than transparent dealings, stressing that no meaningful restructuring can be effected under rubber stamp State Houses of Assembly, pliable State Judiciary and local government councils not democratically elected as enshrined in Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Ironically, the dominant narrative or contestation is that APC led federal government is against restructuring, without awarding President Muhammadu Buhari marks or taking note of this key harbinger of restructuring.”
“In sum, one commends PASAN for reminding us the blockade of Buhari’s restructuring.”