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Controversy trails appointment of new Clerk of National Assembly

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CONTROVERSY is trailing the appointment of Magaji Tambuwal as the acting Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA).

There are allegations that the National Service Commission (NASC) breached its Act by bypassing other senior officers in appointing Tambuwal as the new acting CNA.

The NASC announced Tambuwal’s appointment as the new new Clerk of the federal legislature on Friday, November 18.

Tambuwal is expected to serve in an acting capacity pending his confirmation.

He replaced the former Clerk, Olatunde Ojo, who was asked to proceed on the required three-month pre-retirement leave ahead of his retirement in February 2023.

Chinedu Akabueze, the Clerk of the Senate, is said to be the next in line to succeed Ojo because the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, Bala Yabani, has retired.

However, in a letter dated November 18, the chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, Ahmed Amshi, said Tambuwal’s appointment was based on Section 6(b) of the Act, which gives the Commission the power to “appoint persons to hold or act in the offices”.

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But Section 14(5) of the Act, which centres on the appointment, states, “Consideration shall be given to seniority, cognate experience, competence, or Federal Character.”

Amshi said that Tambuwal’s appointment resulted from his “hard work” and “administrative competence”.

The appointment letter partly read, “I write to inform you that the Commission at its 565th Meeting held on Friday, 18th November 2022, approved your appointment as Acting Clerk to the National Assembly w.e.f. 18th November 2022.

“This is in the exercise of its powers as provided in Section 6(b) of the National Assembly Service Act 2014. It is therefore expected that you will continue to uphold the confidence reposed in you.”

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Legal Services, Ogunlana Kamoru, was appointed acting Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly.

Until his appointment, Tambuwal, who hails from Sokoto State, was the Secretary to the Directorate of Finance and Accounts in the National Assembly.

Tambuwal appointment has generated controversy and there are protests from several quarters that the NASC breached its Act by bypassing other officials who are next in line for the position of Clerk of the National Assembly.

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The line of hierarchy for appointments in Section 6(1)(b) of the Act is stated as – Clerk to the National Assembly, Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly, Clerk of the Senate, Clerk of the House of Representatives, Deputy Clerk of the Senate, Deputy Clerk of the House and secretaries to the directorates and then holders of other offices.

Akabueze became the next senior legislative officer to Ojo following the earlier retirement of the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly (DCNA), Bala Yabani.

Three other senior officials were also listed ahead of Tambuwal, apart from Akabueze. They are Henrietta Aimua-Ehikioya, Saraju Oladoyin and Rahmatu Ahmed – all secretaries to directorates.

The Organogram of the National Assembly indicates that Tambuwal is number six in line and would not have been above the clerks of the Senate, House of Representatives and their deputies. The Act recognises them before secretaries.

The National Assembly Commission Act gives the Commission five directorates, namely corporate affairs, legal services, finance and accounts, procurement, estate and works, and common services office.

According to a Public Affairs Analyst, Haruna Abdulsalam Mohammed, the decision blatantly violated relevant sections of the National Assembly Service Commission Act, 2014.

In a detailed commentary on relevant sections of the Act, Mohammed pointed out how the choice of Tambuwal should be seen as a travesty of legal procedure by the Commission. He noted that Tambuwal should be 6th in line behind five others whom the Commission secretly bypassed.

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In a piece titled ‘Appointment of Clerk to the National Assembly: A Breach of the NASC Act, 2014’, Mohammed said the “Organogram of the National Assembly bureaucracy and line of duties as captured in sections 6(1), 7(2) and 12(1) of the National Assembly Service Act, 2014 shows that Sani Magaji Tambuwal is not qualified for appointment as Clerk to the National Assembly,” he said.

“The Organogram of the National Assembly as shown in the Act shows that Magaji Tambuwal is number 6 in line and would not have been above the Clerks of Senate, House of Representatives and their Deputies who are recognized by the Act before Secretaries.”

Meanwhile, a social-political group, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Alliance for Good Governance, has alleged that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is trying to install a puppet in the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly.

In a statement made available to AljazirahNigeria, the group stated that “current intrigue being orchestrated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP ), is another move to install its stooges in the National Assembly for deep-seated corruption and looting and had therefore expressed urgent national concern for rectitude”.

According to the group, the PDP is using the grapple to replace the outgoing Clerk of the National Assembly, Ojo, to precipitate a crisis that will displace an age-long tradition of seniority in appointing functional officers for the Assembly.

“We are aware that a colossal amount of money running into billions of Naira has been earmarked to fight the battle with the Commissioners of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) being targeted for a bribe of N50 million each,” the group alleged.

“Meanwhile, the outgoing Clerk, who is due to embark on mandatory pre-retirement leave on the 14th November 2022 on the expiration of his tenure, is angling to remain until February 14, 2023, when he clocks 60 years of age as against the provision of extant rules.

“Reports reaching the APC Alliance for Good Governance have it that the outgoing CNA has as plan A his continued stay in office illegally while pushing for Sani Tambuwal (Secretary of Finance and Account) as plan B to succeed him and ultimately position him for the ultimate PDP takeover of the Assembly.”

The group further alleged that Tambuwal is being sponsored by a current PDP Governor from the North-West, who happens to be a senatorial candidate targeting the office of Senate President if he secures victory in the 2023 election.

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