Legislature should be granted constitutional financial autonomy – Barr. Arthur Egwim

… delivers public lecture during Imo State University law week, 2017

The member representing Ideato North state Constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly, Hon. Barr. Innocent Arthur Egwim has advocated for a constitutional financial autonomy for the legislature in Nigeria as a way of further strengthening the principle of separation of powers between the tripod arms of Government on which the democratic system of government is anchored.

He made this call, during a public lecture on the topic “Financial Autonomy of The Legislature” which he delivered on 8th of May, 2017, at the Imo State University, Owerri, during the law week organized by the faculty of Law.

According to Barr. Egwim, “financial independence comes with psychological and operational independence” and at such there is this air of freedom which legislative arms of Government in advanced democracies feel which is a plus for the principle of Checks and balances.

He averred that the reverse is the case in Nigeria, where “the executive arm of government has by the existing laws been placed in the position of a parent or guardian” to the other two arms of government in such a way that “the Judiciary and legislative arms therefore suffer under regrettable financial dependency on the executive”.

He was quick, “however to state that advocating for a strong legislature and respect for the principles of separation of powers does not amount to an endorsement of power tussle between the arms of government as there is indeed a thin line between adherence to the principles of separation of powers and pure show of political strength or power tussle between the arms of government.

While asserting that a totally loyal legislature cannot be an effective watchdog to the executive, he stated “it goes without saying that ‘favours’ received from the executive arm can never be a free gift” but rather “a security for loyalty”.

He lamented that there has been this age-long misconception about the true role of the legislature in Nigeria. He decried the situation where the Nigerian legislator has been compelled based on public expectations to step outside his constitutional duties in order to please the voters and his constituents.

He summed up by correcting the above notion and stating clearly that the job of the legislator is to make laws for the good of the people and act as the eyes of the people in checkmating the activities of this executive and this can best be done in an atmosphere of constitutional autonomy for the legislature.

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