Members of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly have renewed the call for financial autonomy for state legislature in Nigeria.
The lawmakers, who spoke after a three-day retreat in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, asked their colleagues in other houses of assembly in the country to take advantage of the ongoing constitutional amendment by the national assembly, to advocate for financial autonomy for state legislatures.
Such autonomy would give distinct identity to state legislature, and also provide it with the independence to discharge its functions effectively, said a communiqué issued, Thursday, in Port Harcourt by the lawmakers.
The communiqué, which was read to journalists by the Chairman, House Committee on Information, Ime Okon, said there was need for the legislature to be properly recognized as a lawmaking body, and be better funded.
“The role of the legislature, in the consideration of appropriation bills, should be holistic to include sectoral increase, reduction, and inclusion of projects and programmes of felt public needs not captured in the budget by the executive,” the communique said.
The lawmakers asked that laws passed by state assemblies and assented to by state governors be enrolled at the state judiciaries for ease of reference and other judicial purposes.
They suggested the creation of “a special forum where select members of the leadership of each arm could meet and exchange ideas on the effectiveness or otherwise of some legislations”.
The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke, said the retreat, which had the assembly staff also in attendance, was for capacity building that would aide in better legislation.
The retreat was organized by the assembly in collaboration with the National Institute of Legislative Studies.
The 36 state houses of assembly in the country, in 2014, submitted to the then senate president, David Mark, their resolutions in favour of financial autonomy to state legislature, for consideration in the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.