The Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), yesterday, began an indefinite nationwide strike over non-implementation of financial autonomy for state legislatures.
In a statement, Chairman of the Lagos State House of Assembly chapter of the body, Taofiq Adele, claimed that the Executive Order issued by President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2020 granting them financial independence was yet to be implemented by a bulk of the 36 state governors.
Advising the marchers to comport themselves orderly and don legislative apparels to avoid infiltration by hoodlums, Adele stated that notices had been issued in line with the provisions of the Trade Disputes Act of the Federation, with no response from government.
He said: “The strike followed alleged inability of governors to carrying out the order, 10 months after it was given. Recall that the bedrock of parliamentary autonomy hinges on financial independence. Autonomy in this context is simply defined as non-dependence and non-subordination of parliaments in relation to the executive.x
“This non-dependence and non-subordination as stated above are in terms of unfettered control over financial and other related resources.
“Therefore, according to best practices, the parliaments should have equitable access to resources. As such, parliaments by constitutional arrangements, are supposed to have enough financial muscle to carry out their legislative mandates, including exercising power over budgets.”
The Lagos PASAN boss held that parliaments should have control of, and authority, to determine and secure their budgetary requirements unconstrained by the executive.”
He stressed the need for the legislature to assert its role as a separate arm of government, adding: “The parliaments should be able to have control over their own timetable and ability to recall themselves outside normal sessions, if required by circumstances.”
Adele stated that the principle of autonomy in practice included parliaments’ responsibility for their staffing and control over their budgets.
In Oyo, the protesters barricaded all entrances to the state House of Assembly with vehicles in compliance with the directive of the national leadership of the association.
Dressed in their official uniforms and chanting solidarity songs, the agitators brandished placards with various messages, including “Give us our autonomy. Enough is enough”, “We say no to executive slavery”,
“Legislative arm is a separate arm of government”, “AGF, implement Order 10, 2020” and “Legislative financial autonomy is a constitutional right.”
The situation forced a security readjustment at the Oyo State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan as only one entrance gate was opened.
The development resulted in an initial stress for residents that visited the complex as early as 7:30a.m.
Oyo PASAN Chairman, Yemi Alade, tackled the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) for allegedly spurning the presidential order.
“We are fighting for the non-implementation of our financial autonomy. It is a provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Having observed that with the current emasculation of the legislative arm of government, there can be no true democracy.
“The bill has been passed since 2018. Then in May 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari also capped it up with a Presidential Order 10, but, up till now, they are yet to implement it,” he added.
The Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Adebo, thanked the workers for “choosing to take up the fight in the interest of the independence of the legislative arm and deepening of the country’s democracy.”
In Imo, the situation was same, as the marchers locked up the House of Assembly as early 7:00a.m., preventing the lawmakers from conducting legislative activities.
Addressing reporters in Owerri, the state PASAN Chairman, Comrade Victor Nnadi, decried the inability of the Federal Government to meet their demand for financial self-sufficiency.
Reacting, the House Committee Chairman on Information, Ethics and Privileges, Johnson Duru, assured the demonstrators that the issue would soon be addressed.
Also in Rivers, Osun and Bauchi states, the strike directive was religiously carried out.
Their chairmen, Beatrice Itubo, Adesina Adekunle, Ishaku Gital and Auwal Yakasai, who reiterated the appeal for the governors to do the needful in the interest of the nation’s civil rule, maintained that the legislatures would remain shut until result is achieved.