Legislative workers under the aegis of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), Oyo State Chapter, on Tuesday, shut all the gates of the state assembly complex, in compliance with the directive of the national leadership of the association.
The workers, armed with placards with various inscriptions such as “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,” “Legislative financial autonomy is a constitutional right” among others, are protesting the non-implementation of financial autonomy for state assemblies. They said the protest signals the commencement of an indefinite strike action and total shut down of the legislative arm.
Speaking, the Chairman of PASAN in Oyo State, Comrade Yemi Alade, accused the Nigeria Governors Forum of the brain behind the non-implementation of the financial autonomy for the state assemblies.
“We are fighting for the non-implementation of our financial autonomy. It is a provisional 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.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.
“And this is a fundamental provision of the constitution which has been relegated to the background.
“As a staff of the House of Assembly, if there is no true democracy, there is no independence; it will affect the democracy of the country. It is affecting the entire country, not only the staff of the House of Assembly because the principle of separation of power stipulates that each arm of government must act separately and if there is no financial autonomy, all other arm of government would be in slavery to the executive arm.
“Our grievances are against both the States and Federal Government. There is a presidential order that mandated them to implement this financial autonomy but the Governors Forum is the brain behind the non-implementation. And we want to know if there is any other law or individual who is greater than the constitution of the country, that is why we had to come out to embark on the strike because if there could be a presidential order which was not followed, then there is a serious problem in the country,” Alade said.
Addressing the protesters, the Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, said all the lawmakers had earlier been advised to stay away from the assembly complex.
“I want to use this medium to appreciate PASAN because without you we can’t be a legislative arm of government. I know that PASAN remains the landlord of the legislative arm of government and it is our responsibility to build PASAN as well as the civil service. We appreciate, encourage and support you in all your endeavours.
“I know that whatever you are fighting for is a reasonable fight and it is your right. What you are fighting for can only build the legislative arm of government. The lawmakers and I will always support what will bring development to the legislative arm of government, as long as you are united. I can guarantee you that the autonomy for the state assemblies nationwide will be granted by the Governors Forum.
“We understand the agitation by PASAN across the federation and I can assure you that the Speakers Forum has been working on the autonomy for the state assemblies in order for us to achieve this during our tenure.
“We have had series of meetings at the conference, even with the Governors Forum; with what’s on ground and the progress we’ve made, we are almost at the finish line.Details of the meeting with the Governors Forum would be released at the appropriate time. I thank PASAN for the steps taken because it is long overdue for the legislative arm of government to have its financial autonomy.
“The only stumbling block is that the Governors Forum wants to go about the financial autonomy at the same time and use the same method of implementation. No state will go about it in a different way because that will not bring about uniformity and once that arises some states will be at an advantage as compared to some other states.
“The general consensus is that we will use one method for all the states and that will bring about rapid development and independent for the state assemblies nationwide.
“The truth about this situation is that now that it has gotten to this point, it could have been resolved long before now but its unfortunate that PASAN from the national level to the states have taken a unilateral decision to make the strike indefinite until the financial autonomy is approved. The situation is not unique to Oyo State but across the federation.”
However, a reliable source at the National Assembly said: “Financial Autonomy for state assemblies was one of the items passed by the 7th National Assembly but was rejected by the Assemblies due to pressure by the governors.
“Again, the 8th National Assembly passed it and it sailed through at the state level. It was one of the items in Constitution Amendment list President Buhari assented to. Since Buhari gave nod to it, state governors have been lobbying to frustrate the law.”