The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. 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 yesterday.
Declaring the round-table open, Gbajabiamila, represented by the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Idris Wase, said a revitalised local government system would bring about effective governance.
He said that for a more robust ninth assembly, there was need for the state Houses of Assembly 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 disclosed that 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 National Assembly 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,” Gbajabiamila said.
He commended the organisers of the round-table, saying the timing was apt given that the ninth National Assembly was just concluding it’s preparation for proper take off in its four years duration.
In a goodwill message, Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislators of Nigeria, Mr. Mudashiru Obasa, 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 the Taraba State Speaker, Mr. Abel Peter Dia, urged the lawmakers to be active participants in the round-table.
Also, the Oyo State Speaker, Mr. 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 National Assembly, 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.
The News Agency of Nigerian (NAN) reports that some of the Speakers of State Houses of Assembly were not present at the opening ceremony of the round-table.