The NILDS and the German government support the financial autonomy of the state legislature

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The Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Professor Olanrewaju Suleiman and representative of the German government stressed on Tuesday the need for financial autonomy of the legislative arm of government with the aim of deepening democracy in Nigeria.

Professor Suleiman gave the charge while addressing the President and members of the Plateau State Assembly during the first of a series of workshops planned for the State Assemblies in 2022 by KAS and the NILDS.

According to him, the content of this year’s workshop was “based on our needs assessment arising from our engagement in 2022 as well as input received from Speakers of partner legislatures.

“It would be remiss of me not to state ab initio that there have been significant developments in the Legislative Assembly of the Plateau since our last meeting. he inauguration of the current president and the fallout from these developments have been widely reported in the press.

“These events, which are no stranger to democratic growth and consolidation, especially in emerging democracies, once again compel us to think about building legislative institutions in Nigeria.

“It only shows too clearly that our democracy is still very fragile and that we must collectively take action to strengthen our systems and processes in order not to protect one man, but to protect all of us, the legislature and democracy. herself.

“Some of the most serious issues we need to address include those relating to the procedure for removal of presiding officers, as contained in the Rules, as well as improving the transparency of our processes. We must not only do the right things at all times, but we must also be seen to be doing the right things. We would have failed in our accountability to our constituents had we not been seen to be acting in good faith.

“The Plateau House of Assembly has been a pioneer in so many ways and you have accomplished so much over the past few years. I implore you to continue on this path and fulfill your obligation to the people of Plateau State. I am particularly pleased that the new management has maintained this important partnership with NILDS and KAS in the area of ​​capacity building.

“There were other milestones, including the signing of the Elections Act (2022) by President Muhammadu Buhari. Several of the groundbreaking provisions of the law were welcomed and found to have the potential to lead to significant improvements in the electoral process. .

“For example, legal support for the use of the Smart Card Reader (SCR) and any technology for that matter that INEC intends to deploy as well as legal support for the electronic transmission of test results. polling stations, can lead to greater transparency for our electoral process.

“These and other important provisions will be discussed during this workshop. As you all know, the CENI has already acted in accordance with this new instrument to challenge certain decisions of political parties.

“There have also been monumental developments in Ebonyi and Cross River States. On March 8, 2022, a Federal High Court ordered the removal of the Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, declaring that their defection was unconstitutional. In a similar development, another Federal High Court ordered the removal of 18 members of the Cross-River State Assembly and two members of the House of Representatives who defected to Party Governor Ben Ayade. Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) at All Progressives. Congress (APC).

“Meanwhile, another Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja, on Monday, March 21, quashed the petition filed by sacked Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi, seeking a stay of execution of the March 8 judgment. And as of yesterday morning, March 22, there were reports that the Nigerian police had taken control of the Cross-River State House of Assembly.

“These developments have affected the legislature and could potentially lead to a governance vacuum and further negative impact on our democracy,” he noted.

On his part, the newly elected Speaker of the Plateau State Assembly, Hon. Yakubu Sanda affirmed that the Assembly enjoys full financial autonomy.

“We operate on our own. We have no problem as long as it comes to financial autonomy.

While responding to the former President’s recent declaration of vacancy, Hon. Sanda said, “You know the Constitution is very clear about this; that if a person had the mandate of a political party to occupy a position, the moment you move to another party, you leave your position.

“The Assembly is stabilized now that there is no more crisis in the Assembly,” he said.

In his remarks, KONRAD Resident Representative Dr. Vladimir Kreck said that part of the organization’s interventions in Nigeria has been to support the state’s Houses of Assembly by helping them fulfill their legislative duties. .

On the financial autonomy of the legislature, Dr Kreck said: “It needs to be independent from other levels of government. If one level of government depends on the other, they cannot function optimally.

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