OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE AND THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
*IS APPOINTMENT OF CLERK AND DEPUTY CLERK, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY FOR SALE UNDER YOUR LEADERSHIP*?
We are strongly compelled to write both of you on the recent developments in the adminstration of the 9th National Assembly, particularly on the purported sales of appointment of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk National Assembly, under your watch.
You will recall that in the last few years, series of reports have alleged that the processes leading to the selection of principal career officers in the National Assembly, have been ridden with corruption, as the Commission saddled with the responsibility of appointing them *after your approval*, have continued to jettison the provisions of the law(Act of the National Assembly), and have subjected the process to be determined by the highest bidder, as well as affiliation to the powers that be.
While we do not seek to disparage your efforts at leading a National Assembly that is committed to delivering the dividends of democracy to Nigerians, we find it worthy of setting the records straight, as the continued display of silence against urgent actions and inactions of yours, over compliance with the due process, is capable of jettisoning the law, preventing things to work the way it should.
That is the essence why we have decided to assist you in setting the records straight. On November 18, 2022, the National Assembly Service Commission under the leadership of Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi FNSE, approved the appointment of Mr. Sani Magaji Tambuwal, erstwhile Secretary of Finance and Accounts, as the Acting Clerk to the National Assembly.
The Commission, also approved the appointment of other key Officers to man the top Management team of the National Assembly legislative bureaucracy in *total disregard to the Act of the National Assembly bureaucratic legislative hierarchy*.
They are: Mr. Ogunlana Kamoru. Secretary of Legal Services who is elevated to the position of Acting Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly (DCNA), Mrs. Henrietta Aimua-Ehikioya (former Secretary of Special Duties) now redeployed as Secretary of Legal Services,
Mr. Birma Shuaibu Maina, the Director, Legislative Senate, now the Acting Secretary of Human Resources and Staff Development Directorate.
Mr Umoru Barde Ali, the former (Director, Pharmacy) was appointed the Acting Secretary of Research and Information, Mr. Omogbehin Yomi V, Director, Legislative, Senate now the Acting Secretary, Special Duties. Mr. Inyang Clement Titus, Director of Accounts, who is now the Acting Secretary of Finance and Accounts; and Mr. Nwoba Andrew O., Director, Administration Senate, now the Acting Secretary of Planning and Legislative Budget.
According to the Commission, the appointments were sequel to the approval of a memorandum presented by the Committee on Establishment, Records and Training of the Commission on the need to fill existing vacancies in the National Assembly Management team.
However, there are some other facts involved in the development. Sequel to the appointment of Tambuwal, reports emerged in the media of how a sitting opposition Governor in the North-West, doled out fifty million naira, to each Commissioner in the Commission, to ensure that his nominee becomes the NASS Clerk.
Those who were against his elevation cited the fact that Tambuwal, was not on the legislative cadre, which is constitutionally provided, for whoever will be elevated to such position.
To save this corruption ridden process from tarnishing the image of the National Assembly under your watch, Your Excellencies, permit us to draw you back to history, as to what has transpired in the past, which would establish why the current process should be reviewed and addressed as appropriate.
Pursuant to Sections 4 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 as amended which stipulates that *”the legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in the National Assembly”*.
Further to the above is Section 51 of the same Constitution which states that *”there shall be a Clerk to the National Assembly and any other staff as may be prescribed by the Act of the National Assembly”. The adjective of “Clerk” in the Constitution which is only peculiar to the legislature is not for the fun of it nor by accident or an abberation*.
Sequel to the above, *Sections 6(1)(b) and 12(1)(b) succinctly highlights the various Staff in the National Assembly and its legislative bureaucratic hierarchy*.
Aside from the relevant provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999 as amended; and the Act of the National Assembly,2014 as amended, *the laid down precedents in the legislature world wide subsist in line with global best practices*:
In 1991-93-Dr Adamu Fika, Mni was the CNA/DG. He was succeeded by the Deputy Clerk Senate, Alhaji Ibrahim Salim, in 1993 due to the removal of the Clerk Designate Senate, Ms. Amma Pepple. The Clerk Designate, House of Representatives then moved to the Senate, Mr. G.A Ominiyi.
The politicisation of the appointment of the Clerk Senate by Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, after the retirement of Mr G.A Ominiyi in 1999, appointed a Deputy Clerk Senate, Mr. Emmanuel Ozubele instead of the Clerk, House of Representatives, Alhaji Nasir Arab as the Clerk Senate in 1999 led to the creation of the position/Office of the Deputy Clerk, National Assembly so that Alhaji Nasir Arab does not loose his legislative seniority within the legislative bureaucracy hierarchy.
Then Mr Oluyemi Ogunyomi, Deputy Clerk House of Representatives, emerged as the Clerk House of Representatives. When Mr Ozubele retired as Clerk Senate, Mr. Ogunyomi was elevated as Clerk Senate while Mall Umaru Sani, Director Legislative (Director of Finance and Supplies) became the Clerk House of Representatives.
With the retirement of Alhaji Ibrahim Salim as the Clerk, National Assembly in 2005, the Deputy Clerk, Alhaji Nasir Arab took over the Clerk to the National Assembly and Mr Ogunyomi, Clerk Senate became the Deputy Clerk, National Assembly and Mall Umaru Sani,Clerk House of Representatives moved to the Senate. The Deputy Clerk House of Representatives, Mr. Niyi Ajiboye succeeded Mall Umaru Sani as the Clerk House of Representatives in the order of legislative bureaucratic hierarchy.
In view of the retirement of the Clerk Senate (Mall. Umaru Sani) and the Clerk, House of Representatives (Mr. Niyi Ajiboye) in 2010, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa who had earlier converted to the Legislative Cadre was appointed the Clerk Senate and House of Representatives before he became the Deputy Clerk, National Assembly to Mr Oluyemi Ogunyomi, Clerk National Assembly so that he doesn’t loose his legislative seniority.
Then,Mr Ben Efeture, the Deputy Clerk, Senate emerged the Clerk, Senate while Sani Omolori, Director Legal Services became the Clerk, House of Representatives due to the retirement of the Clerk(Mr. Niyi Ajiboye) & Deputy Clerk House of Representatives(Mrs Akuafor).
With the retirement of Mr Oluyemi Ogunyomi as the Clerk National Assembly in 2010, Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, the Deputy Clerk National Assembly emerged the Clerk National Assembly.
Again, due to the retirement of Alhaji Salisu Maikasuwa, Clerk National Assembly in 2016; Mr. Ben Efeture Clerk Senate, Alhaji Sani Omolori, the Clerk House of Representatives was appointed the Clerk National Assembly and the Deputy Clerk House of Representatives, Mr. Gani Ojagbounmi became Clerk, House of Representatives and the Deputy Clerk Senate, Mr.Nelson Ayewoh was appointed Clerk Senate.
The sacking of Barr. Sani Omolori, Clerk National Assembly and Mr Nelson Ayewoh, Clerk Senate; Mr Adamu, Clerk House of Representatives and Alhaji Ahmadu Abdullahi, Deputy Clerk Senate while the Deputy Clerk, House of Representatives, Mr. Giwa had few days to his retirement in July, 2020, the “doctrine of necessity” was applied in picking the only two standing substantive Secretaries, Arc. Ojo Amos Olatunde as the Clerk, National Assembly and Barr Bala Yabani as Deputy Clerk respectively.
Now that the position of the Deputy Clerk National Assembly is vacant, the Clerk Senate should be appointed the Deputy Clerk, National Assembly and the Clerk House of Representatives should be appointed the Clerk Senate while their Deputies step up as clearly spelt out in sections 6(1)(b)and 12(1)(b) in the Act of the National Assembly Service Commission, 2014 as amended.
The National Assembly Service Commission while announcing the appointments concluded that: “The Commission further resolved that the outgoing Clerk to the National Assembly, Arc. Ojo Olatunde Amos continues to work with the Acting Clerk to the National Assembly, Sani Magaji Tambuwal until his retirement date of 14th February, 2023 in order to ensure the success of the ongoing 2023 Appropriation Bill’s process that should be transmitted by only the substantive Clerk to the National Assembly in accordance with the provisions of the Authentication Act.”
We hold that it is also absurd to have a substantive Clerk to National Assembly and Ag. Clerk, National Assembly at the same time to understudy the other. This is not in conformity with the Laws of the Federation and not the intendment of the Act of the National Assembly 2014, as amended.
These are some of our thoughts that could be useful in the *application of the rule of law and preservation of the only symbol of our fledging democracy, the Legislature*.
In a nutshell, it will certainly be a wrong signal to the bewilderment of Nigerians and the international Community *that Nigerian lawmakers can not uphold the Act passed by the National Assembly and the rule of law under your leadership*.
We are daily inspired by your leadership and we wish you jointly and quickly arrest this ugly development by reverting to the National Assembly Service Commission Act,2014,as amended on the appointments of the Clerks and Secretaries so as not to set bad precedents in the National Assembly and Nigeria at large.
Finally, the rule of law and not the rule of thumb must prevail on the appointments of Clerk and Deputy Clerk National Assembly so as to prevent the looming anarchy and disaffection within the staff, where staff of National Assembly will start working across purposes in the legislature under your leadership.
Usman Idris Mohammed
Chairman, National Union of Legislative Staff