Governors fight Buhari over autonomy for judiciary, legislature

All the 36 states governor are currently up in arms against an Executive Order signed by President Muhammadu Buhari for the implementation of financial autonomy for state Legislature and Judiciary.

Reacting to the development through the platform of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), they however stated that though the support the move, they would not be stampeded by the Order.

According to them, the President’s Executive Order 10 is not required for the implementation of the financial autonomy they jointly facilitated.

The governors said they were not consulted before the President enacted the order.

Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong spoke with reporters in Abuja on behalf of the forum, after the NGF’s meeting with visiting French Minister of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester.

Executive Order 10 was issued by the President on May 10, last year.

On Monday, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami said the Federal Government was determined to push through the content of EO 10. “No going back”, he said in Sokoto.

But Lalong insisted that the Executive order was unnecessary.

He attributed the confusion over financial autonomy for state Legislature and Judiciary, which led to the strike by court workers across the country, to misconception by those who confused the financial autonomy law with the Executive Order 10.

He said the implementation of the law would be preceded by discussions and agreement by stakeholders.

Lalong said the issues that arose from previous discussions will be fully resolved at the meeting scheduled for today.

The Plateau State governor, who was invited by his Ekiti State counterpart and Chairman of NGF Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to address the question on financial autonomy and court workers’ strike, emphasised that the NGF was not comfortable with Executive Order 10.

He noted that autonomy was not entirely about money, but putting necessary measures to strengthen the other two arms of government at the state level.

Lalong said: “For us the governors, we are saying no. We are going to do implementation. You don’t need Order 10 to force us to do implementation. So, we don’t need Order 10. We are already working on the law of implementation, because the federal government cannot tell us how to implement. We are doing the implementation.

“People don’t know the difference between Order 10 and the law on financial autonomy. What we are having meetings on, which we are going to conclude tomorrow, is about financial autonomy. It is not about Order 10. Order 10, of course, is subjudice now, because it is in court.

“But, we are not bothered about Order 10. We are talking about the implementation of the financial autonomy law. I was a Speaker. We started it in 1999. Today, I am a governor. And I know how the governors agreed and brought in financial autonomy.

“It was a law agreed by the governors, who said go and pass it. Otherwise. it would not have been passed. We brought it up during every constitutional amendment. But, by the time we got there, we all agreed, as governors, and said let us pass it in our states and we passed it. So, who is the one that is crying more than the bereaved?

“We are the ones most affected. All these things affect us. I am a lawyer and I will want the Judiciary to be autonomous. I have been a legislator. I was not only a legislator, I was a Speaker and Chairman of Former Speakers Conference up till today. So, I will want autonomy for them. I am a member of the Executive today.

“So, in essence, it is about strengthening the institutions. People are thinking it is about money. It is not about money; it is about strengthening the institutions,” he said.

On why the governors were delaying in implementing the law, Lalong said: “We are not foot-dragging. We were not consulted when the Executive Order came.  When you are talking about implementation, you are talking about processes. You don’t wake up and say because a law is passed, it must be applied. There must be processes.

“For instance, as a Speaker, I will tell you that you cannot do financial autonomy until you have a Service Commission in place. You must establish a Service Commission; you must establish a State Allocation Committee. And all these are steps towards autonomy. You cannot achieve autonomy in a day.

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