The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has urged state Houses of Assembly to save the local government area system in Nigeria from imminent collapse through its instrument of law making.
The speaker made the appeal at the opening of a one-day round-table with speakers of state Houses of Assembly in Lagos on Tuesday.
Declaring the round-table open, Gbajabiamila, represented by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Idris Wase, said a revitalised local government system would bring about effective governance.
He said for a more robust 9th assembly, there is need for state assemblies to invest in knowledge acquisition by running short and long term courses in areas such as budget implementation and related programmes so that through oversight engagements, they could insist on real value for money on contracts awarded for the well-being of citizens in whose mandate they stood.
Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly would commence its process on the work of its constitutional review committee.
“In that process, there will be need for synergy between the NASS and state Houses of Assembly. There is need for caution.
“The caution lies in our collective efforts to ensure that the work of lawmakers, be it in state or national, do not suffer any infringement.
“We must not only be seen to be working but work in a way that our work will speak for us. Of particular note is the need to point out that the sanctity of the National Assembly does not suffer any infringement,” Gbajabiamila said.
He commended the organisers of the round-table, saying the timing was apt given that the 9th National Assembly was just concluding it’s preparation for proper take off in its four years duration.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislators of Nigeria, Mudashiru Obasa, has urged relevant stakeholders to intensify efforts toward implementation of the constitutional provision of financial autonomy to state legislature and judiciary with a view to strengthening democracy.
“It is well over a year that President Muhammadu Buhari gave assent to financial autonomy for both state legislature and judiciary in the last constitution review,” the Speaker, Lagos state House of Assembly said.
Obasa, represented by Abel Peter Dia, the Taraba assembly speaker, urged the lawmakers to be active participants in the round-table.
Also, the Oyo state speaker, Adebola Ogundoyin, said the lawmakers as democrats want the laws implemented which was part of the reasons for the round-table.
“There are a lot of local government areas issues. We intend to resolve them once and for all and all arms of government must sit to agree on the implementation,” he said.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Director of National Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof Abubakar Sulaiman, organisers of the round-table, said the conference was the first since the 2019 election.
He said the lawmakers had enormous responsibilities to the Nigerian people in the spheres of ensuring good governance, providing a forum for grassroots representation and oversights.
“More than the NASS, state legislatures need the necessary capacity to perform the enormous and tedious responsibilities saddled in them by the constitution,” Sulaiman.
He urged the lawmakers to be active participants in the round-table geared toward strengthening the capacity of law making in Nigeria.
Sulaiman, who said the round-table was geared toward reviewing activities of assemblies to identify the challenges, urged the lawmakers to take advantage of the courses offered by the institute to build capacity.