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Speaker Laments Failure of State Assemblies to Grant Autonomy to LGCs on Constitution Amendment

...Says National Assembly Will Represent the Bill To State Legislatures Again
By Ahmed Abu, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri
Hon Yakubu Dogara
Hon Yakubu Dogara
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The Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has expressed disappointment over the failure of the state house of assemblies across the country to unanimously accept to grant autonomy to local government councils in their respective states on the ongoing 2018 constitution amendment.

Receiving the returns of the voting of the state house of assemblies on the 2018 Constitution Amendment Bill today transmitted to them for assent by the National Assembly, the Speaker said, "all hope is not lost as they can still decide to give their approval when the National Assembly presents it again in future for the sake of deepening and delivering the dividends of democracy to the people at the grassroots."

Dogara however commended the federal lawmakers for granting the state assemblies autonomy, stressing that, "they were courageous to take the bold step."

“I must commend you for deciding that the legislature in states should be independent. However, this is not an expression of the opinion of the National Assembly, I want to appropriate this as my personal opinion.

" I can say that I am disappointed because I thought that the courage demonstrated by these highly skilled legislators, some of whom are seated before us, would have delivered the long awaited local government autonomy, but unfortunately, maybe our courage didn’t go that far.

“But you see, courage isn’t really the absence of fear, but it is acting in spite of your fears and if it was not because of men and women of courage, I tell you that the democracy itself that we experience now wouldn’t have been possible.

"When William Wilberforce said slaves must be free, he belonged to the party, majority of whom, were slave owners and on account of that, a revolution started,” Yakubu said.

The Speaker noted that while most of the measures the National Assembly was seeking to introduce may not be popular, if they stand by them, the kind of future that will come from it will only ensure the deepening of democracy and the progress of our Nigeria.

“Just as this one (financial independence for state legislatures) failed the other time, maybe in the next exercise, because our state legislatures are now independent, they will be able to extend this same independence to local governments.

"We all know the benefits of the independence of the 3rd tier, we all know that," Dogara added.

He however urged President Muhammadu Buhari to give assent to the bill, especially as it represents the wishes of the Nigerian people expressed through the federal and state representatives in the legislature.

Clauses approved by the state house of Assemblies include reduction of period for extra budgetary expenditure by the Executive from six to three months , Legislative immunity for lawmakers, new regulations governing conducts of bye elections by INEC, removal of the word “Force” from Nigeria Police, limiting the tenure of presidents and governors to eight years by not taking oath of office more than twice, reduction in age for elective offices, stipulation of date for budget presentation by the President , inclusion of Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps in the constitution among others.