The state governors have announced that they will commence the implementation of financial autonomy for state legislative and judiciary institutions by May 2021.
This was disclosed to State House correspondents by Kayode Fayemi, Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Ekiti State, after a meeting with Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.
The agreement comes two weeks after judicial workers under the aegis of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) went on strike on 6 April over the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary as the third arm of government.
According to Governor Fayemi, the Governors’ Forum has never been opposed to the issue of financial autonomy and that the governors, the speakers, and judges are on the same page.
He explained that an agreement has been reached by the stakeholders on the government side.
He said: “But for us, we are here for legislative and judicial autonomy and the governors, the speakers and the judges are on the same page, as far as this issue is concerned.
“We just emerged from a meeting with the Solicitor-General of the Federation, the representatives of the judiciary, the representatives of the Conference of Speakers, and House of Representatives and we are on all fours. An agreement has been reached.”
According to him, the implementation of the financial autonomy will begin by the end of May once the final copy of the implementation document is ready.
“First, the issue is about implementation. There has been no objection from governors on judicial and legislative autonomies, as a matter of fact, it would not have passed if governors were not in support in the first instance, in the state Assemblies.
“So that issue has been fully and holistically addressed, but we don’t just want to agree to something on paper without working out the modalities for implementation. Thankfully, the meeting we have just emerged from, with the Chief of Staff to the President chairing, has worked out the modalities to the satisfaction of all parties.
“As soon as the final document that is being cleaned up emerges, that is preparatory to implementation. We’re not going to put a timeframe in the air, but it will be implemented as soon as possible, definitely no later than the end of May 2021,” he said.
The NGF Chairman, therefore, urged the striking judicial workers to call off their strike in the nation’s interest, noting that the issues raised by JUSUN had been addressed by all the parties concerned.
He said: “In the interest of the nation, we believe that the striking workers should return to their offices because as far as this has gone, we have met with all the parties concerned.
“The President, through the Chief of Staff, has also been insisting on this matter and has been monitoring what has been happening and I think we’re basically at a position where whether you speak to the Conference of Speakers’ chairperson or you speak to me or you speak to the representative of the judiciary or you speak to the Solicitor-General of the Federation, you will hear that we’re speaking with one voice on the implementation and no later than May, you will start seeing the implementation of the agreement that we’ve reached.”
Also present at the press briefing were Governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal (Sokoto), Simon Lalong (Plateau), and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of States Assembly, Abubakar Suleiman, Speaker of Bauchi State House of Assembly; Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Dayo Akpata; and Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang