Members of the 7th legislature of Anambra State are currently groaning over the governor’s apparent reluctance to implement the financial autonomy law which was signed by his predecessor, Chief Willie Obiano.
It is however believed that the implementation of financial autonomy will help foster separation of powers as well as financial independence between the legislature, the judiciary and the executive arm of government in the state together with local governments.
However, in the present circumstance, lawmakers of the State House of Assembly are disenchanted because the legislature is not at liberty to exercise full financial independence as state and local government funds are clustered in the executive arm giving room for dictatorial tendencies and undemocratic practices in governance and administration.
Lawmakers have not been paid their allowances between February and June this year. The House of Assembly Complex Awka houses reptiles and rodents because of the thick forest behind the building.
Also, lawmakers now undertake refreshments from their private pockets in the ongoing budget bilateral talks with ministries, departments and agencies of government.
“All these, the legislators believe would have been solved constitutionally and in accordance with the rule of law and separation of powers if the three arms of government were granted full financial autonomy in the state.”
But in his view, Comrade Osita Obi the Convener Recover Nigeria Project believes very strongly that legislators should pay the price other citizens have been paying in order to achieve a greater and more prosperous Anambra State.
Obi believes that lawmakers should accord Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo the latitude to function as governor and not compel him to make decisions that may be counterproductive to Ndi-Anambra.
“Every stratum of government must be independent to enable them to discharge their functions. But this financial autonomy must be spelled out because I don’t know what the lawmakers mean by financial autonomy.
“If it is a financial autonomy that a certain amount of money is statutorily budgeted for them to operate with; I concur with that and I believe Soludo won’t withhold it. My problem is that the lawmakers don’t want to pay any price to enhance the development of Anambra state.
“They are talking about financial autonomy; why didn’t Obiano sign it into law two years into his assumption of office? He waited until his exit from the office and signed it. And saying that they are owed five months’ allowances; who owe them? Soludo is just 100 days in office which means that the former governor owed them two months before he left office and they didn’t agitate for it. So why are they agitating for it now?
“Well I am in support of financial autonomy for the legislature but they don’t have to drain Anambra state. They must pay a price because the citizens of Anambra State are paying price too. What I expect them to do is to tell Ndi-Anambra how they are being denied their enticements.
“Again, the citizens of Anambra state want to know how much our legislators are being paid because gone are the days when legislators pocket N10 million and more in the name of wardrobe allowances. My take is that everyone has to pay a price and we want our House of Assembly representatives to make public their salaries and allowances so citizens know how much they are being paid.
“It will be hypocrisy on their part to say it is because of that that they are not doing their functions as they promised upon election. I don’t even see the functions they are doing because in the last regime they were simply rubber-stamped as public money was looted just to massage their ego.
“I can assure you that their legitimate earnings would be paid to them They shouldn’t disturb the present governor. He knows what he is doing. Everybody including the lawmakers must pay a price to keep Anambra state working, “he said.
A source from the 7th legislature told our correspondent that the current House has done its bit by passing the financial autonomy bill into law and ex-governor Willie Obiano assented to it, that the onus lies on the incumbent governor to act accordingly.
Also, Nonso Smart Okafor of the Nnewi-North state constituency who equally functions as the Deputy Chairman House of Assembly Committee on Finance and Appropriation told our correspondent that the financial autonomy bill is already a law and has been assented to by Soludo’s predecessor.
Okafor also stated that anything delaying the implementation of the financial autonomy law should be made known by the governor as it can not continue to be idle in the archives.
The lawmaker representing Dunukofia state constituency in the 7th legislature Hon. Lawrence Chukwuweike Ezeudu said the financial autonomy bill is already a law in Anambra state and has been assented to, adding that the financial autonomy of the state assembly is sacrosanct and nothing can change it.
Ezeudu explained that the governor has no choice but to implement the law because it has come to stay in Anambra state except if it is repealed in the future even he pointed out also that no steps have been taken by the Executive arm to abrogate the law.