President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a delay in the gazetting of Executive Order 10 which would have compelled state governors to ensure financial autonomy for state legislatures and judiciaries, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State said on Monday.
Mr Fayemi said this while briefing journalists in Abuja at the end of a meeting he and some other governors had with some ministers and Mr Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari.
PREMIUM TIMES last month reported how Mr Buhari signed the executive order.
The order mandates the accountant-general of the federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said the Executive Order No. 10 of 2020, made it mandatory that all states of the federation should include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets.
According to Mr Malami in the May statement, “a Presidential Implementation Committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended).”
Despite signing the order, and based on the intervention of the governors, Mr Buhari has now suspended its implementation, Mr Fayemi said.
“We have a delegation of the governors’ Forum here to discuss some matters of fundamental importance to the nation and the President has asked that we meet with the Attorney General, the Chief of Staff and the Minister of Finance Planning and Budget on the issue.
“It is an issue that has seized the interest of many of you in the media and a lot of people in the federation, it is about the autonomy of the State legislature and the judiciary and we’ve met with the President before now on it and the President was very pleased that for us as Governors, we are all united in support of the autonomy of State judiciary and the legislature; that’s the position of the 36 Governors of the federation.
“What is at issue is on the constitutionality of the modalities of what had been put in the Executive Order and the President was gracious enough to say ok, given your concerns about that we will delay the gazetting of the order and allow you meet with the Attorney General and the Minister of Finance out work out the modalities,” the Ekiti governor, who chairs the NGF, said, suggesting the Executive Order was unconstitutional.
Mr Fayemi said the governors were already meeting with speakers of state houses of assembly on ensuring autonomy for the legislature.
“In any case, we have been meeting at our level with the conference of Speakers. The Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum; Governor Tambuwal of Sokoto State, was delegated as the Chair of a number of Governors who have gained legislative experience either because they were in the House of Representatives or they were Speakers of State Assemblies, or they were Senators and that committee has been meeting with a delegation of the Conference of Speakers, working out this modalities and we believe that all of that would be settled amicably without any resort to court,” he said.
Some of the attendees at Thursday’s meeting include the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
Mr Gambari hosted the meeting, which was also attended by Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and his Kebbi State counterpart, Abubakar Bagudu.