Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the presidential implementation committee on the autonomy of state legislature and state judiciary in line with the fourth alteration to the 1999 Constitutional amendment.
He assured on his administration’s commitment to sustaining the separation of powers among the three arms of government in order to strengthen democracy in the country.
The 16-man panel is chaired by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, while the Presidential Adviser on National Assembly (Senate), Sen Ita Enang would serve as secretary.
The president, who said the panel had three months for the assignment, urged the members to ensure compliance with the term of reference, stressing the need for them to be meticulous and diligent in discharging the assignment.
Buhari said: “The setting up of this committee is necessitated by the realisation that legislative and judicial autonomy are necessary pre-conditions for our democracy to endure.
“We are committed to strengthening our democracy by ensuring separation of powers among the three arms of the Nigerian government, even at the state levels. Furthermore, we have identified the need to sustain our constitutionally-guaranteed federal system of government by building capabilities not only at the Federal level but at all the federating units.
“This committee has therefore been set-up, as a major reform of this administration, to ensure that the autonomy granted to the legislature and judiciary at the state levels is maintained, pursuant to Section 161 of the 4th Alteration to the 1999 Constitution (As Amended).
“The committee is thus expected to foster the effective implementation of the autonomy constitutionally granted the state legislature and judiciary under the 1999 Constitution (as amended). It is my hope that when this is done, there will be proper checks and balances, and the state legislature and judiciary shall be genuinely empowered to carry out their respective constitutional duties without fear of dominance and or marginalisation.”
Buhari, who underscored the unique roles of the legislature and judiciary said: “The legislature, being the closest arm of government to the people, and the judiciary as the last hope of the common man, must both be seen to be sufficiently independent to perform their respective constitutional roles without any interference, let or hindrance. In this regard, ensuring that these organs of government enjoy financial autonomy will further enhance their efficiency and independence.”
The committee which is to liaise with relevant agencies and organisations, has the following its terms of reference:
“In executing this important national assignment, the committee, as constituted, is expected to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders to ensure compliance with the constitutional provisions granting autonomy to state legislature and judiciary, without deviating from its approved terms of reference which are as follows:
(a) To assess and review the level of compliance by all the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended);
- b) To monitor, ensure and cause the implementation of financial autonomy across the judiciary and legislature of the 36 states of the federation and the FCT in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) and other applicable Laws, Instruments, Regulations, and Conventions, howsoever, providing for financial autonomy for the legislature and judiciary at the state tier of government;
(c) To consult and relate with the appropriate federal and state MDAs, including but not limited to the Governors Forum, Accountant General of the Federation and those of the states, the National Economic Council and other institutions of state to ensure and where necessary, enforce the implementation of constitutional provisions;
- d) To come up with appropriate modalities or model to be adopted by all the states of the federation for implementation and/or compliance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution (As Amended);
(e) To advise on other measures that are deemed necessary or incidental to the fulfilment of the aims of the committee to attain the full purport of this assignment.”
The president urged members of the committee to be meticulous and diligent in the discharge of their duties and to ensure compliance with their approved terms of reference.
In his remark, the chairman of the committee, Abubakar Malami, described the inauguration of the committee as exceptional in the historical development of the country.
“This giant act of the president being the first in the historical evolution of Nigeria’s democracy, has indeed yielded to the aspiration of a greater number of Nigerians and as a result constitutes one of the major reasons for the president’s massive victory in the recently-concluded presidential election,” he said.
He added that the committee was put in place in line with the constitutional status of the Federal government as a trustee of the federating units of the country.