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HomeSpecial ReportThe mischief in the appointment of an acting Clerk to the National...

The mischief in the appointment of an acting Clerk to the National Assembly

By Sufuyan Ojeifo

Whereas the atmospherics of the National Assembly bureaucracy have been somewhat calmed by the appointment of acting Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Magaji Sani Tambuwal, the mischief created by the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) in the coupling and consummation of the office and other appointments into the leadership guard of the administrative wing of the National Assembly, has been unsettling even as it is curious and suspicious.

Read below the obvious mischief as contained in a press statement signed by the Executive Chairman of the NASC, Engineer Ahmed Kadi Amshi, in which he announced the appointment of Tambuwal and seven other top officers of the National Assembly management to fill the various ancillary positions in the leadership guard

“The Commission further resolved that the outgoing Clerk to the National Assembly, Architect Ojo Olatunde Amos, continues to work with the acting Clerk to the National Assembly, Magaji Sani Tambuwal, until his retirement date of February 14, 2023 in order to ensure the success of the ongoing 2023 Appropriation processing that should be transmitted by only the substantive Clerk to the National Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the Authentication Act.”

This piece of mischief only justifies itself, as it were, apparently shorn of ennobling features, and left largely riddled with certain political interests. It is not only ludicrous in the context of administration but also not rooted in precedents. Previous chairmen of the NASC, namely Dr Adamu Fika, Engineer Ahmed Aliyu Dogodaji, Ishaya Dare Akau, who were in the saddle at different intersections, did not contrive the incumbent chair, Engineer Amshi’s shenanigan, when confrinted with a similar situation. There was never any contraption to orchestrate an air of inevitability around any CNA that served under their superintendence.

These chairmen discharged their functions of appointing and disciplining National Assembly staff members with distinction. Amshi’s hitherto acclaimed administrative “savoir faire” has been rendered suspect in the way and manner he threw his partisan weight in defence and protection of the outgoing CNA, Architect Ojo, who did not, from the outset, leave his subordinates in doubt that he was not ready to proceed on his three-moth pre-retirement leave.

Architect Ojo knows why he wanted to stay put in the office preparatory to his February 14, 2023 retirement. The feelers in some circles in the National Assembly management and the NASC are that it could be for transactional and pecuniary reasons. It could further be for any other reasons- whether covert or overt.

But whatever the reason was, the process to foist the NASC resolution at its Friday, November 18, 2022 meeting on the ecosystem of the National Assembly and cause Tambuwal and company to live with a fait accompli that ensures that his predecessor in office (Architect Ojo) continues to hang around to assist in the delivery of the budget and tutor him on other issues, is the crux of the matter.

Perhaps, in Amshi’s contemplation, whatever understanding that must have existed between him and the leadership of the National Assembly on the one hand and the outgoing CAN, Architect Ojo, on the other hand, could be accommodated up until February 14, 2023 when he (Ojo) effectively retires as CNA. A firm NASC, acting independently in applying the provisions of the Act establishing it would have acted without consulting with the leadership of the National Assembly on the matter.

In fact, the NASC is not required to consult with anybody in carrying out its statutory responsibilities. But unfortunately, in this instant case, NASC chair, Engineer Amshi has surrendered the independence of the Commission to the pleasure and service of the NASS leadership. This is quite understandable: Amshi is a crony of the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan. He was once his legislative aide.

Interference in the independence of the NASC is implicated in the reported decision by the Senate President, on Friday, to direct Engr Amshi, to recall the outgoing CNA, Arc. Ojo, from his terminal leave over what he described as “inevitable exigencies of this time.” According to the report in THE NATION newspaper, “Lawan in a letter to Amshi, said the services of Ojo were still very much required in view of the 2023 Appropriation Bill being processed by the National Assembly. He also said that an acting CNA to be appointed needed to be thoroughly ‘tutored’ by Ojo on the workings of the office of the CNA.”

This is the moot point in the entire succession saga in the National Assembly Bureaucracy. There is nothing extraordinary that the outgoing CNA is required to do that cannot be done on the side without foisting his supervisory role, unknown to the NASC Act, on the new acting CNA and his management team. If it is about the authentication of the budget by a substantive CNA, Architect Ojo could simply be called upon when the 2023 budget is ready for transmission to the President for assent to simply sign the covering letter and or authentication page.

After this exercise in December, this year, there is nothing more for Architect Ojo to do. He could as well concern himself with the processes of final disengagement from service effective February 14, 2023,especially the processing of his doscuments to facilitate payment of his gratuities by government and his Pension Funds Administrator. And to be sure, the NASS bureaucracy as an institution is well capacitated enough to carry out all responsibilities without the so-called services or tutorial of an outgoing CNA who himself was supported by the system or institution to carry out his responsibilities when he stepped in the saddle. The same system is in place to support the new management team to deliver on their responsibilities.

Indeed, the tardiness by the NASC for almost five days in filling the leadership vacuum created by the pre-retirement leave of Architect Ojo is still a symptom of a much fundamental malaise in running of the Commission. It was uncalled for. Sooner than later, going forward, a complete overhaul of the Commission has to be carried out. There should be a painstaking scrutiny of the character and pedigree of members of the commission, most especially the Chairman, henceforth at the point of recruitment. The chairman should be strong-willed and uncompromising in applying or following the rules or provisions of the Act establishing the Commission. And, he should be able to provide a sharply-focused leadership to the Commission without wavering or pandering to outside influences.

… Ojeifo sent this analysis from Abuja via [email protected]

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