According to him, Nigeria and Mexico have a lot to learn from each other, since they have a lot in common in vast territories, presidential and federal systems.
He also expressed the National Assembly’s commitment to strengthen institutions of democracy, such as state Houses of Assembly, and equally stressed the need for autonomy for local governments across the country and state Houses of Assembly.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja when he received Ambassador of Mexico to Nigeria, Ambassador Garcia Moreno Elizondo, who paid him a courtesy visit on the fringes of the 57th independence anniversary celebration, Ekweremadu said the move would guide against state executives’ interference in the manner they carry out their responsibilities, since he who pays the piper dictates the tune.
He said strengthening the nation’s local governments and parliaments would help to promote checks and balances as well as deepen the nation’s democracy.
Ekweremadu said: “The National Assembly is committed to strengthening institutions of democracy, such as state Houses of Assembly, by placing them on first line charge so that their funds are guaranteed from the consolidated revenue funds from respective states.
‘’This is so ensure they are independent of the state executives, since he who pays the piper, dictates the tune.
“I’m aware that Mexico runs a six-year single term Presidency, known as the Sexino. This is something Nigeria will be looking at because what we are doing now has a lot of difficulties.
“So, we are looking at the possibility of constitutional reform that can guarantee a single term so that the money we spend in running elections and the problem of chief executives struggling and concentrating to come back, using resources and instruments of state, can be overcome.
“We would like to hear more from you on how the single term works and whether it has been beneficial to your system so that we can also collaborate in that respect.”
Ekweremadu observed that the states in Mexico had substantial autonomy and their respective constitutions.
He noted: “When we are talking about devolution of power, strengthening our federalism, Mexico is a place we can look at.
“At present, we are trying to see what we can do to empower not just states, but also the local governments, so as to strengthen our federalism. And part of the things we are looking at is to get autonomy for the local governments, such that they are able to get their funds directly from the Federal Government to special accounts created by each local government.
“So they get their funding from the federation account straight to their own account at the various states. I used to get my funds directly from the Federal Government as a council chairman before 1999. But in 1999, all that changed with the introduction of what they call the Joint State/Local Government Account.
On his part, Ambassador Elizondo said Nigeria and Mexico had the common challenge of improving the well-being of their citizens.
According to him, this can only be effectively addressed with political stability and very strong democratic institutions.
He canvassed political cooperation and dialogue of the highest level between the two countries through their national parliaments to boost and diversify economic relations.