Despite the constitutional provision that grants financial independence to the legislative arm of government in the states, only five states have fully complied with it. The Guardian’s investigation reveals that Lagos, Delta, Plateau, Oyo, and Nasarawa are the only states where the Houses of Assembly enjoy full financial autonomy.
Twelve other states have implemented the provision partially, while 31 states have not complied at all. The non-compliant states are: Ondo, Katsina, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, Ekiti, Abia, Imo, Bayelsa, Anambra, Ebonyi, Niger, Bauchi, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Jigawa and Kaduna.
This situation has led to a nationwide strike by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), which demands the implementation of financial autonomy for the state legislatures. The strike, which started last week, has crippled the activities of the state assemblies.
According to the 1999 Constitution as amended, Section 121 provides that the funds of the state legislature and the judiciary should be transferred directly to their accounts. However, this has not been the case in most states, where the executive still controls the finances of the other arms of government.
The Chairman of PASAN in Ekiti State, Gbenga Oluwajuyigbe, explained that financial autonomy can be divided into three levels: full, partial, and non-implementation. He said that full autonomy means that the allocations of the legislature are placed in the first line charge, while partial autonomy means that the salaries of the legislature are still paid by the executive. Non-implementation means that the state assembly still depends on the governor for money.
The National President of PASAN, Usman Mohammed, confirmed that Lagos and Plateau are already autonomous, while Jigawa is gradually implementing the provision. He said that the Constitution did not allow for partial implementation, but granted full autonomy to the state legislature.
The quest for financial autonomy for the state legislatures began when former President Muhammadu Buhari signed Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 to enforce the constitutional provision. The order, however, faced resistance from some governors, who challenged its legality.