House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, has applauded the Federal Government for recognising the excesses of some state governors and setting up a committee to ensure the situation is remedied.
He said due to lack of financial autonomy to state legislature and judiciary, that some governors run their states like fiefdoms and are masters in the art of pocketing state judiciary and legislature.
He stated this at a conference on the autonomy of state legislature in Abuja on Thursday, noting that financial autonomy of the judiciary and legislature was part of the doctrine of separation of powers enshrined in Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution.
The Federal Government had recently set up a committee with the mandate to work out a framework that will ensure states do not interfere with the finances of the state legislature, judiciary and local governments.
The Speaker, who thanked the Federal Government for doing that, said based on the doctrine of separation of powers, the legislature and judiciary are meant to work with and not for the executive arm of government.
“A situation where one branch controls the finances of the other branches is manifestly subversive of the separation of powers doctrine and patently unconstitutional. Each branch of government should hire and fire its personnel, procure the goods and services necessary for its effective functioning without interference from any other branch. This is important in preserving and safeguarding our constitutional democracy and freedom.
“Lack of autonomy of these key institutions at the state levels has been the bane of our democracy. It is the main reason why there are no effective checks on governors, most of who run the states like fiefdoms.
“Since more funds from the Federation Account go to the states and local government areas than to the Federal Government, lack of autonomy of the state legislature and the judiciary means that such humongous allocations will continue to be wasted by some state executives who have mastered the art of pocketing both the legislature and the judiciary.
“All branches of government must develop constructive relations with each other in order to ensure a smooth and workable system. No branch should lord it over the other or assume a position of superiority over the other. They are all co-equal branches of government set up for public good. I have always said that the Legislature and the Judiciary are meant to work with and not for the Executive,” he said.
He, meanwhile, noted that autonomy and independence also calls for accountability because funds available to all the organs of government are public funds.
“Finally, I wish to admonish the practitioners and operators of the three arms of government to deploy institutional prerogatives with forbearance as no individual has ever survived reckless deployment of the coercive instruments of state.
“Misuse of power has always been and will always remain a sweet poison that kills by a thousand bites. More so, one may be a member of the Executive or Judiciary today, and belong to the Legislature tomorrow; we, as leaders, must always do those things that will build and sustain key institutions of government,” he said.
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