• Monday August 13, 2018 08:42 AM
  • NILS Press Corps
The Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof. Ladi Hamalai has stated that the first line charge of the financial autonomy recently granted the State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria via Constitutional amendment starts with establishing and strengthening the capacity of Service Commission to superintendent over the administrative work of the parliaments.

Speaking at a conference in Abuja on Monday, August 6, 2018 on the theme “Operating within the Context of First line Charge " organized by NILDS for the Chairmen and management staff of existing State Houses of Assembly Commission, DG said "governance is the livelihood of democracy and there cannot be effective governance without an administratively and financially independent legislature".

As she welcomed the participants to the conference organized to share experience and educate the Commission Chairmen on how to procedurally explore the new financial powers that has been given to them by the Constitution. She added that as the bureaucratic arm of the legislature the financial autonomy naturally is annexed to the Service Commission. "However, you must understand that with additional powers comes more responsibilities" she added.

Prof. Hamalai posited that that whole essence of autonomy is to allow the legislature exercise the competence vested in it by the Constitution to negotiate its position with other arms of government; thus, the financial autonomy gave the legislature adequate latitude to assert itself, she said.

Furthermore, Prof. Hamalai informed that the autonomy so granted may be tagged as "partial" because in Nigerian context, the legislature still has to depend on the Executive or Federal Government for funding; besides being routinely audited by personnel from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation. She said unless the issues of building the economy and strengthening democratic institutions are addressed, full autonomy cannot be attained.

Earlier, in a keynote address at the conference, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Sani Omolori , represented by the Clerk to the House of Representatives, stated that one of the implications of operating a regime of financial autonomy by the State Assemblies is that the doctrine of checks and balances are better served. He added that the concept of financial autonomy for the legislature stemmed from the doctrine of separation of powers.

While he charged the participants to leverage on the practical experiences to be shared by the resource persons, Omolori cautioned that financial autonomy should not be mistaken for authority to operate outside the ambit of extant financial rules and regulations. Adding that any infractions of the financial regulations by the leadership of State legislatures under this new regime would amount to corrupt practice.

The Clerk ended by tasking the Chairmen on more diligence and commitment to their legislative duties, adding that the Assemblies should henceforth seek to approve and enforce codes of conduct, including rules on conflict of interest and acceptance of gilts. Also, He tasked the participants on transparency, requested that the Chairmen should disclose their financial assets and business interests to the Code of Conduct Bureau.

Meanwhile, the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) has continued to bag encomiums for supporting the growth and capacity development of institutions of democracy. This came on the heels of goodwill messages delivered by the Secretary to the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), Mr. Olu Ajakaiye and the Chairperson of the conference of State Service Commission Chairman, Bar. Josephine Ada Kachukwu during the opening ceremony of the conference.