State assembly legislators are regrouping to assert their independence, it was learnt at the weekend.
This may not be unconnected with the alleged sweeping influence of state governments over assemblies.
The legislators unfolded a body, the National Association of State Assembly Legislators (NASAL), in Abuja at the weekend to articulate and enforce the views of the lawmakers.
The Interim National President of the body, Mr. Valentine Ayika, said NASAL became necessary to liberate the state assemblies from strong personality leadership to build strong institutions.
He said state assembly legislators were making a strong statement with the inauguration of NASAL that democratic governance based on the rule of law had come to stay.
Ayika noted that the body would pursue financial autonomy to state assemblies, especially with the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
He said: “Individually, a state assembly can be dealt with, but with an association like this, we can surmount any recklessness of the executive.”
Ayika said financial autonomy was what the state assemblies needed to be independent.
He said: “Our salaries are paid by the state governments. It is a fact that he who pays the piper dictates the tune.”
Asked why the state assemblies rejected the autonomy granted them by the National Assembly during the last amendment of the constitution, Ayika said there was no organisation to articulate the feelings of the assemblies then.
He added: “If the opportunity comes our way again, I am sure we will grab it.”
Ayika regretted that only about two state assemblies of the 36 voted to deny state assemblies the opportunity to be financially-independent.
On the gale of impeachment by state assemblies, he noted that “whatever any state assembly construes as gross misconduct remains gross misconduct until the constitution is amended.”
Ayika listed the vision of NASAL to include “to unify and build an organisation that can forge a strong bond of collaborative engagement in driving state development in the country and contribute in nation building with enhanced grassroots participation.”
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