President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday 22, March formally inaugurated a Presidential Implementation Committee on Autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary. While performing the ceremony, the President stated that the setting up of the Committee was necessitated by the realization that legislative and judicial autonomy were necessary pre-conditions for enduring for Nigeria’s democracy.
The President ceased the opportunity to reiterate the commitment of his administration to strengthening democracy and ensuring separation of powers amongst the three arms of governments at both the federal and state levels. In his words, Buhari said, ‘we are committed to strengthening our democracy by ensuring separation of powers among the among the three arms of 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’.
According to President Buhari the committee had been set-up as a major reform of his 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 expected to foster effective implementation of the autonomy constitutionally granted the State Legislature and Judiciary under the 1999 Constitution (as amended). The presidency hoped that when the work of the committee 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 marginalization.
The committee is headed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, with the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator ItaEnang, as Secretary and to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders to ensure compliance with the Constitutional provisions granting autonomy to State Legislature and Judiciary. Its terms of reference include;
1. 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);
2. 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;
3. 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;
4. 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); and
5. To advice 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 Committee has three months to complete the assignment.