The Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) has approved a template for the realisation of financial autonomy for the judicial and legislative arms of government.

Rising from a meeting the forum held on Wednesday in Abuja, Ekiti State governor and chairman of the NGF, Kayode Fayemi, said the template was developed after a meeting with state Attorneys General and Commissioners for Finance, which held in June.

“The Forum (NGF) has approved a common template for the implementation of the Memorandum of Action signed with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASUN) on the implementation of financial autonomy for the State legislature and judiciary,” the communique, issued at the end of the governors’ meeting, read, on Wednesday.

JUSUN members had embarked on a nationwide strike on April 6, in agitation for the judiciary’s financial freedom from the executive, particularly at the state level, where the state governors only fund the two other arms of government as they please.

PREMIUM TIMES reported that JUSUN had rejected the 36 state governors’ earlier proposed template for the implementation of judiciary’s financial autonomy being demanded.

The union maintained, after its May 8 meeting, that the provisions of the constitution “cannot be negotiated, doctored, manipulated and therefore, must be obeyed”.

But the union, alongside its parliamentary counterpart, PASUN, later signed a Memorandum of Action (MoA) with the federal government and the governors on May 21.

The signing of the MoA led to the suspension of the JUSUN strike on June 9, with the union expressing hope that it would be implemented to the letter.

The MoA stipulates the template all the 36 states would adopt for the implementation of the financial autonomy of both the judiciary and the parliament at the state level.

It is not clear if the template adopted by the governors is agreeable to the one signed by the unions.

MoA

Highlights of the MoA signed between the governors and the unions, last, read in part, “The governments of the respective States shall credit the Accounts of each State House of Assembly and each State Judiciary with the pro-rata amount due each of the two arms of Government under the 2021 Appropriation for each State in accordance with B(iii) of this Memorandum of Action commencing from April 2021 State Allocation from the State Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) as a sign of good faith.

“And the B(iii) in reference, says, “whenever there is Revenue shortfall, lower than the Budgeted fund, the monthly allocations to each arm of government shall reflect a percentage of the appropriated sum or an irreducible minimum amount to be allocated every month for the purpose of meeting its costs whichever is higher. This percentage will reflect as 100 per cent in Personnel Cost. The Running Cost and Capital Cost will be pro-rata of Revenue performance as per the State Appropriation Law.

Upon fulfilment of the above, “ the ongoing Industrial Action shall be suspended with immediate effect from the date of the agreements contained in this Memorandum of Action (MOA), provided item D above is effected immediately and others effected within the 45 days window as prescribed in this MOA.

The framework adds, “annually upon the determination of budget ceilings or envelopes from the Budget Committee of the State, anchored by the Budget Office of the State headed by the Commissioner in-charge, each arm of government – Executive, Judiciary, Legislature, acting through its own Budget and/or Funds Management Committee, shall prepare its Budget Estimates/Details and submit same to the State House of Assembly;

“There shall also be established in each State a State Account Allocation Committee (SAAC) to be given legislative backing in the various Fund Management Laws and charged with the responsibility to oversee the distribution of available resources to each arm of Government. Membership to reflect the template of the FAAC.

“Every State Commissioner of Finance and State Accountant General shall on a monthly basis furnish the Committee with the revenue performance of the State within a stipulated timeline not exceeding 7 days after each FAAC meeting. Based on the revenue receipt, evaluations and the needs of each arm, the Committee shall work out an appropriate budget release based on the Appropriation for each Arm of Government for that year.”

The Presidential Implementation Committee shall give a biweekly appraisal and follow-up.

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