- State assemblies, judiciary get financial autonomy
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed into law a bill that will amend the 1999 Constitution which bars vice presidents and deputy governors who succeed their principals from seeking a second term in office. He also signed into law Bill No. 16, which means vice presidents and deputy governors who succeed their principals are not entitled to eight-year tenure.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents at the presidential villa, Abuja. He said: “The intent of the Bill No. 16is to ensure that where a vice-president succeeds a president or a deputy governor succeeds a governor he can no more contest for that office more than once more.
“The fact is that having taken the oath as president once and you can only contest for the office once again and no more. That is the intent of this amendment.” The new law also gives financial autonomy to state houses of assembly and judiciaries in the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Enang said with the signing into law of the Constitution Alteration Bill, the State Houses of Assembly would now operate like the National Assembly where the Federal Ministry of Finance automatically transferred budgetary allocation direct to the account of the legislature. According to him, the Judiciary in the states under the new arrangement will also enjoy similar financial independence as their budgetary allocations will no longer go through the budgeting process of the executive arms at the state level. Such funds, he said, would henceforth be transferred directly to the account of the judiciary.
Enang said: “I just want to inform you that His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari today assented to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill which grants financial autonomy and independence to the Houses of Assembly of the respective states and to the Judiciary of the respective states.
“Therefore upon this signature, the amounts standing to the credit of the judiciary are to be now paid directly to the judiciary of those states, no more through the governors and no more from the governors. “And then the amounts standing to the credit of the Houses of Assembly of the respective states are now to be paid directly to the Houses of Assembly of that state for the benefit of the legislators and the management of the States Houses of Assembly.
“This grants full autonomy now to the judiciary at the state level and the Houses of Assembly at the state level. This allows the State Houses of Assembly to operate like the National Assembly does because the National Assembly does not get its money from the executive. “It provides money in the statutory transfers which the Ministry of Finance will automatically transfer to the account of the National Assembly.” He said: “Just like that of the (Federal) Judiciary, you see the judiciary sometimes get N150 – N170billion sometimes a little bit about a 100billion. It does not go through the executive and it does go through the budgeting process of the executive. “It is transferred directly to the account of the judiciary, which is the head of courts.
When the Houses of Assembly are doing their budgets the amounts standing to the credit of the judiciary it will now going to be among the statutory transfers which will be statutorily transferred to the heads of the courts. “And then that of the State Houses of Assembly will stand transferred to the House of Assembly of the state.” President Buhari also yesterday signed into law the Constitution Amendment No. 21 which relates to a determination of pre-election matters. He said the new bill had reduced the days and time of determining pre-election matter to ensure that preelection matters in courts do not get into the time of election do not pend thereafter.
“The relevant section of the constitution has also been amended by this Act, therefore, amending the constitution,” he added. Enang said the president also signed the Bill No. 9 into law. According to him, the Bill No.9 gives the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) sufficient time to conduct by-elections. He said with the president’s assent to the bill, the days for the conduct of by-elections had been increased from seven to 21 days. “These four Bills added to the ‘Not Too Young To Run’ Act, have now been assented to by Mr President and they have now become laws. And then the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended are hereby further amended by the assents of Mr President to these bills today,” (yesterday) he said. (New Telegraph)