Innocent Lagi: House of Assembly, judiciary autonomy will create governance imbalance

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 A former Commissioner for Justice in Nasarawa State, Mr Innocent Lagi, says financial autonomy for states’ Houses of Assembly and Judiciary as granted by new laws will create imbalance in governance.

By the laws which were signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 8, house of assembly and the judiciary in each state will have their budgetary allocations transferred to them directly by the state’s Ministry of Finance.

Lagi told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the autonomy would engender complexity in government business as budgeting by the affected two arms of government would no longer go through processes by the Executive.

According to him, the autonomy becomes complex because if the houses of assembly are supposed to appropriate for the states, it means that they can appropriate for themselves and put whatever they want in their budget.

He explained that for appropriation, the Constitution amendment needed to be clearer in respect of budgetary allocation or finances of the houses of assembly.

“Assuming the house of assembly included that they are going to build a legislative hospital, how will they do the procurement process, how will they award the contract?

“Will that not be an executive action being carried out by the legislature?

“Can the judiciary award a contract? What happens if there is a dispute in respect of the contract, will the judiciary sue the contractor to itself? Can the contractor sue the judiciary to the judiciary?

“So, financial autonomy should be clearly spelt out in terms of salaries, allowances and their running costs. But, if you don’t limit it to that, you are creating more confusion under the Constitution.

“This is because if they put a contract into their budget and it is assented, they will have the responsibility for the execution of that project. Wouldn’t that be causing conflict of interest?

“When you are talking about Separation of Power, an arm of government is not necessarily supposed to play the function of another,” Lagi said.

On the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act, he said that it was not about age or voting, but about the ability and experience of an individual to govern a people.

“We are hoping that the electoral process will be able to say who is qualified for an election, no matter how young or old,” he said.

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