Of NASS bureaucratic processes

AS the sun rose on the 8th October, the stage was set for  a major  event inside the ‘Green’ Legislative Chambers of the National Assembly. The event glaringly established the fact that the current chief bureaucrat of the complex is a square peg in a square hole. This became manifest when President Muhammadu Buhari stormed the National Assembly Complex with his entourage to present the 2021 budget estimates to a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The occasion was quite significant: since the emergence of  Ojo Olatunde Amos on July 17th as the Clerk to the National Assembly, the event of 8th of October was the first comprehensive public assignment that he had attended to. Prior to now, torrents of opposition were mounted by detractors and foes who put up a formidable battle to stop him from landing the topmost job in the National Assembly’s bureaucracy. Even with the traditional statutory ‘seniority’ clause of the National Assembly that had favoured successive former Clerks to the National Assembly, detractors did their level best to try and block his chances using every means available.

As the first professional architect to attain the clerkship to the National Assembly, the new bureaucrat has a history of dynamism and extraordinary performance, just like the legendary President Thomas Jefferson of the United States, the first ever American architect-president. The new CNA is presently proving his detractors and the  so called pundits purveying scepticism in the public discourse wrong in the scheme of things. The supreme legislative body in Nigeria has been well run in the last few months. In any case, who says the staff of the National Assembly are not at home with an administrator  who is poised to make a positive difference in the scheme of things? At a retreat with the theme: “Democracy And Development In A Federation: Roles of Media, States And Parliaments’, held in Lokoja, and organised by the Senate Press Corps on September 26th, 2020, Ojo had averred: “lt is imperative to state that there is no better time than now in our democratic history that our patriotic passions are much needed to sustain the Nigerian federation and our democracy.”.

Really, in order for democracy to continue to thrive in the country, every Nigerian needs to display undiluted patriotic passions at every segment of the society. When  Clement Nwankwo and his crew from the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) came calling on the CNA not quite long ago, on a courtesy visit,  the topmost legislative staff member had bared his mind thus: “Our quest for knowledge and robust consultations is further driven by  legislative best practices, as we are considering the need to create a forum of former clerks and serving clerks to promote the spirit of consultations from time to time… We are faced with a challenge for the National Assembly to regenerate itself, and upon this reality the management under my watch will be fully democratised in its processes.”

At a time like this, heading the bureaucracy of the legislature that is practicing the committee system in its oversight functions is a daunting exercise. The electorate need to be carried along in the distribution of democratic dividends and legislative work must run very smoothly. In this regard, it is quite evident that the nation has a sophisticated administrator of legislative staff. Under his watch so far, there have been bridges of mutual understanding. This has been facilitated through accessibility and humility. Today, the morale of staff and top management personnel of the National Assembly is being boosted by the day; a template to ensure that all staff are duly trained is being prepared by the Human Resources and Staff Development Directorate; the promised 28-day allowance of legislative aides was paid recently. The long awaited Legislative Duty Allowance (LDA) has equally been paid to motivate the staff. The CNA equally promised never to touch any statutory benefits of staff under his watch, and to see that there is significant improvements to the benefits that the staff are presently enjoying.

Many outsiders to the workings of the National Assembly bureaucracy might not know that the successful hosting of the president in the National Assembly complex on 8th of October when he presented the 2021 budget estimates involved a lot of systemic commitments, brain-storming and organisation. Now that the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) led by Engineer Ahmed has confirmed Ojo as the substantive Clerk of the National Assembly, after its 506th meeting held on Wednesday 30th of September, 2020, ample opportunity has been provided for him to actualise his dreams for the National Assembly. No one would doubt the fact that heading the National Assembly bureaucracy requires competence and vision, a determination to ‘regenerate’ the National Assembly for optimal performance, productivity and sustainable development.

  • Austen, Special Adviser on Media and Labour Matters to the Clerk to the National Assembly, writes in via austennade67@gmail.com

 

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