Governors under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) have called on the striking judiciary workers to call off the ongoing industrial action in the interest of the nation.
Governor of Sokoto State and the NGF Vice Chairman, Aminu Tambuwal, made the appeal on Thursday while fielding questions from State House reporters after leading a delegation that included the Chairman of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria, who is the Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abubakar Y. Suleiman, to meet with the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
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The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had embarked on nationwide strike action over the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary, thereby paralysing court activities in States across the country.
Tambuwal said the technical committee raised on the matter had made reasonable progress on the implementation of financial autonomy to state judiciary and legislature.
He announced the plan of the committee to meet again on Monday after receiving the final report.
When asked about their mission to the Presidential Villa, he said: “We are here with the chairman and leadership of the Speakers Conference, the Solicitor General of the Federation, and Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to Mr President on Niger Delta, Sen. Ita Enang, who has been a member of the Technical Committee on the implementation of the autonomy of state legislature and the judiciary, together with the Chief of Staff to the President.
“We have just finished a meeting on how to put finishing touches and dotting the ‘I’s and crossing the ‘T’s on the final implementation of the financial autonomy for state legislature and judiciary.
“We have made reasonable progress and we have agreed, after receiving the final report of the technical committee to meet on Monday, because of the urgency of the matter, and finally, resolve whatever issues are there.”
On whether the JUSUN strike would be called off with this meeting, the NGF vice-chairman, who was a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, said: “We have just finished talking to the speakers, and indeed the state judges, and the judiciary to continue to engage and the Minister of Labour is also engaging with the striking bodies to appeal to them, to appreciate the fact that we have made progress.
“And then, they should call off the strike. We are appealing to them in the interest of this country, they should call off the strike.”
Tambuwal added that: “I can assure you that all of us are committed to building institutions, particularly our parliaments and the judiciary in our respective states, as governors democratically elected.
“We will do whatever it takes to make sure that whatever issues are resolved, as I told you, before, some of it are constitutional.
“And then, whatever matters that have to do with the constitution, you have to be sure of what you’re doing that you’re actually following the Constitution.”
Tambuwal claimed that the governors are in support of financial autonomy, adding that: “From the very beginning, during the 8th assembly, under the leadership of Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara, the governors’ forum under Abdulaziz Yari then, met with them and supported the financial autonomy for the state legislature and the judiciary.
“And that is why with that support, we were able to achieve the passage of this amendment by the National Assembly and the state legislature across the country.
“So, the governors are unequivocally in support of the autonomy of these institutions.”