Tambuwal, lawmaker differ over autonomy for state assemblies
SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal yesterday emphasized the need for a legislation that would guarantee autonomy for state assemblies.
However, a two-term member of the Delta State House of Assembly, Tim Owhefere said that autonomy for states assemblies cannot be realistic unless there is a constitutional backup that makes them separate from the vice grip of the state government.
Tambuwal, who spoke at an induction course for state assemblies members-elect organised by National Institute for Legislative Studies (NILS) lamented that lawmakers at the state assemblies do not enjoy the autonomy needed to enable them perform their legislative functions.
Fielding questions on the sideline, Owhefere, said states assembly would continue to remain subordinate to the state government because there are no definite constitutional provisions that make them legally separate and independent from the state government.
Tambuwal, represented by the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha urged the members-elect not to be weighed down in the discharge of their legislative assignments owing to lack of separation of powers.
He said, “You are the most significant arm of governance in our country because you are closer to the people.
“I want to urge you to begin early in the day to try and buy into your chief executives in your various states to see how they can allow you to practice the job you have been elected to do.
“Anything short of that you will not have job satisfaction and it will be detrimental to your future.
“Here at the national level we have secured our independence that is why both the senate and the House of Representatives function with or without the cooperation of the executive arm of government.
“You are following through what is going on with our battle with the constitution amendment. And I am sure in the full length of time the legislature will take a firm position and you will know the position we have taken. For us all our efforts is about institutionalization of the legislature,” he added
Owhefere said autonomy couldn’t be secured for the states assembly because the 1999 constitution as amended does not expressly provide for their independence.
“If there is no law backing autonomy, it can’t change. You cannot insult a man who needs to give you money every week. The state assembly will continue to be a rubber stamp to the executive arm of government so long as the executive release the cash.
“If there is no law on ground to define and shape autonomy for the state assembly, the situation will remain the same. So, if there is no autonomy for state assembly all states assembly will remain rubber stamps to the executive arm of government,” he said noting the change will only occur if the constitution is amended to that effect.
On the tussle between the Federal Government and the National Assembly over the amendment to some sections of the 1999 constitution, the Delta state lawmaker observed, “You cannot force the judgment of the Supreme Court. I wondered why it took the Presidency so long to object to the amendment considering the huge sum of money expended on this project.
“Recall that the 36 houses of assembly met and voted on this amendment and to just wake up one morning to say that you are uncomfortable with the amendment, leaves much to be desired. I mean it doesn’t tell well of our democracy and if you look at all the amendments everything was designed to strengthen the very foundation of our democracy.”
Also, on the recommendations of the National Conference, the lawmaker lauded the report but regretted that the document, like others, will be consigned to the dustbin of history.
“History has overtaken them again. It going to be like every other report that we have seen in the past because the man who engineered it is gone.”