The former spokesman for Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Mr Ime Okon has described the Executive Order 10 recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari to grant financial autonomy to the state legislature as “surplusage” since there already exists a constitutional provision for the said autonomy.
Speaking with newsmen on phone, Okon, who was the deputy leader of the last session (6th) Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly which voted for the autonomy at the state level, said nevertheless, it was a welcome development that would still help to mould the nation’s democracy to the expected formula.
“The executive order cannot take precedent over a law that had been enacted by the national assembly and assented to by the president.
“Like I say, it is a surplusage; if anything, it tells us that their president has the interest to make sure that the institutions of democracy are strengthened.
“For me as a person, I have always gunned for the independence of the legislature because I feel that independence of the legislature would certainly facilitate the work of the legislature especially, in terms of oversights.”
The former lawmaker said the new autonomy must however be handled well so as not to breed any misunderstanding between the executive and the legislature; stressing that what belongs to legislature should be given to it while the legislators should see whatever is given to them as funds to do their job and not money to be shared.
He particularly advised both parties to properly handle the issue of constituency project because it is the right of each constituency have projects attracted to it be their representatives provided such provision were made in the budget.
“In terms of execution, it is the duty of the executive to execute those projects. What the legislature does in our own case, the house member merely nominates projects that they would want executed in their constituency, and subject to the funds available for that purpose.”
Okon, who was a two-time member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly representing Ibiono Ibom State constituency, stressed that the autonomy would not affect the election of the speakers and other principal members of the houses of assembly, which was assumed to have been hitherto influenced by the executive.
“But it will be wrong to assume that merely implementing the state legislature independence will solve all the problems. It depends on those managing it, it may even bring problems
“We cannot go to sleep and say because we have legislative autonomy then all problems are solved. Don’t forget that this is just the beginning; but as we progress, it would be fine tuned to ensure that it is properly executed,” Okon said.