Delta State Governor, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa has said the bill on the financial autonomy of the State Houses of Assembly and judiciary which was recently assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari was made possible by collective efforts from relevant stakeholders.
The governor made the assurance on Monday, June 11, 2018 in Asaba saying, “I want to place on record that the constitutional amendments involved the National Assembly, the State Houses of Assembly and eventually the final bill is assented to by the President.”
“So, it is a result of the constitutional amendment in which both tiers of government have been effectively involved in the decision making and I think that it is important that any section of the constitution that is finally signed into law is the constitution that we have given to ourselves as a people to operate, so, every arm of government is involved in its making, but, very important, as a state, as soon as it is finally transmitted to us we will be implementing the law as it is because, we have sworn to adhere to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, so be rest assured that we will do so and just for all of us to realize that financial management is a very difficult thing to undertake, but I believe that both the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Chief Judge of the state are experienced enough to handle their affairs along with the distribution of funds in line with what is budgetarily available and will be able to manage it in such a manner that all of us will be on the right path in terms of accountability,” the Governor stated.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, June 8, 2018, assented to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill, which grants financial autonomy to the State Houses of Assembly and the Judiciary.
While addressing newsmen on the development, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang, explained that, with the signing into law the Constitution Alteration Bill the State Houses of Assembly would now operate like the National Assembly where Federal Ministry of Finance automatically transferred budgetary allocation direct to the account of the NASS.
He said that the Judiciary in the states would also enjoy similar financial independence as their budgetary allocations would no longer go through the budgeting process of the executive arms at the state level, but would be transferred directly to the account of the judiciary.
“Therefore, upon this signature the amount standing to the credit of the judiciary are now to be paid directly to the judiciary of that state, no more through the governor and no more from the governors.
“And then amounts standing to the credits 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 legislature and the management of the State Houses of Assembly.
“This grants full autonomy now to the judiciary at the state level and the Houses of Assembly at the state level,’’ he explained.
He said: “Well, this allows the State Houses of Assembly to operate like the National Assembly does because the National Assembly does not get its money from the executive.
“It provides money in the statutory transfers which the Ministry of Finance will automatically transfer to the account of the National Assembly.
“Just like that of the (Federal) Judiciary, you see the judiciary sometime get N150 to N170 billion sometime a little bit about a N100 billion.
“It does not go through the executive and it does go through the budgeting process of the executive. It is transferred directly to the account of the judiciary, which is the head of courts.
“When the Houses of Assembly are doing their budgets, the amounts standing to the credit of the judiciary will now be among the statutory transfers which will be statutorily transferred to the heads of the courts.
“And then that of the State Houses of Assembly will stand transferred to the House of Assembly of the state.’’