Do you know that budget allocations for LGAs, Houses of Assembly and State Judiciaries are all paid into a joint account which is controlled by the state Governor alone?
In Cross River state for instance,
🖕The State House of Assembly only has a recurrent/expenditure bank account.
🖕Anytime the House has a need, an event or a cause that requires money, the Speaker applies to the governor who approves “what is available” and the Speaker retires the expenditure to the Accountant General AG of the state, an appointee of the governor.
🖕If the governor says there is no money, the House cancels or postpones that expenditure.
🖕If the Speaker, Eteng Jones Williams wants to travel or do anything that requires funding, no matter how crucial, it is incumbent on whether the governor releases money or not.
🖕The Cross River House of Assembly does not have a capital projects account.
🖕Their capital projects budget is executed by the governor.
🖕Same case with the judiciary.
🖕The Cross River state House of Assembly does not make or have any money of its own to spend, unless given by the governor.
🖕It was during the amendment of the Cross River state Internal Revenue Service CRSIRS bill in 2017, that the House made a provision to retain 2 percent of the 10 percent revenue that the Board reserves from what they generate, for administration.
🖕This 2 percent gives the Cross River state House of Assembly between 9 to 10 million naira monthly.
🖕They manage that amount to run the offices of principal officers, and to buy diesel for generator for their sittings which is done strictly on gen.
🖕It may be the same case, or even worse or better in other states. But it is not so at the national level.
🖕The National Assembly and the National Judicial Commission NJC, get their budgets from firstline charge. Direct from the AGF without the interference of the FG. Which is why till date, we don’t know exactly what NASS members earn.
🖕But the governors have resisted this separation at the state level. And now it appears they have shifted grounds.
🖕Let us all support financial autonomy at the state level. If we support financial autonomy for state legislatures, not just in Cross River state, but across the country:
🙏Monies for the legislature will begin to go straight to their account.
🙏The Speaker will be in firm control of the Assembly budget.
🙏It will enable the Assembly respond more promptly to their own needs.
🙏The Speaker can strengthen the House of Assembly Service Commission and bring the House bureaucracy under a Clerk that is not controlled by the Head of Service, an appointee of the governor.
🙏The House of Assembly can undertake their own capital projects and capacity building programs to enhance their effectiveness and responsiveness.
🙏It will boost the confidence of the parliamentarians and give them better grounds to ask the right questions without fear in plenary.
🙏Our communities will also benefit more from elected representatives.
Citizen Agba Jalingo.