Group urges National Assembly to reject, replace acting clerk

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PIC.23. SENATE CHAMBER DURING THE INAUGURATION OF THE 8TH NATIONAL ASSEMBLY IN ABUJA ON TUESDAY (9/6/15). 3023/9/6/2015/CH/BJO/NAN

A pro-democracy group, Nigerians for Enduring Democracy (NED), has called for both arms of the National Assembly to reject and reverse the appointment of Sani Magaji Tambuwal as the Acting Clerk of the National Assembly.

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NED said Tambuwal’s appointment, unilaterally undertaken by the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, in conspiracy with the Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi was fraught with corruption and irregularities and violated due process as laid down in the National Assembly Service Commission Act, 2014, as amended, in relation to the appointments of legislative clerks and secretaries.

In a statement released in Lagos on Tuesday and signed by its Executive Secretary, Fidelis Osoba, NED demanded the reversing of Tambuwal’s appointment and his replacement by a deserving senior official with legislative background and cognate experience.

Until his appointment on 18th November, Tambuwal served as Secretary of Finance and Accounts.

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Moreover, NED noted, the Acting National Assembly Clerk has moved six steps over his superiors to occupy his current position, a move the group said was acrimonious, invidious, unacceptable, and barren of commonsense and decorum.

NED said: “How do you subsume everyone on the successor line-up within the nation’s Legislative Service, leapfrog a totally junior official in the pecking order, and catapult him above his highly diligent and experienced seniors? The National Assembly cannot afford to set bad precedents that will rob the Legislature of the moral right to mediate and exercise oversight when such abuses take place in other arms of the country’s administration.”

The group’s Executive Secretary noted that Tambuwal’s appointment was even more curious as the retiring Clerk of the National Assembly, Arc. Ojo Amos Olatunde had recommended a successor along the line of seniority, experience, and competence.

NED noted that: “Whoever must head the National Assembly Management must be an experienced legislative officer, who has risen through the ranks in the service. Moreover not only does the National Assembly Clerk serve as the peak of the career for legislative officers, but there are also enough competent officers in the system to prevent the appointment of a neophyte who must now be guided every step of the way.”

NED said the National Assembly’s investigation should revolve around the following:

· Why the hurry to appoint Tambuwal as Acting CLA while there remains a substantive one?

· Was the haste in Tambuwal’s appointment fuelled by insinuations in the media about a N700 million bribe to facilitate the process?

· When the Senate President, in his Guest House, met with the Speaker of the House of Reps, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, on Thursday 17th November, why did Senator Lawan go behind to call the Chairman of the Commission surreptitiously to appoint Tambuwal (thus turning a weighty national issue into a family affair, as the Commission Chairman is reportedly Lawan’s relation and his former Chief of Staff when the Senator was Leader of the Senate)?

Noting that although Sokoto-born Tambuwal possessed Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, NED said he was principally a finance person, without a modicum of legislative knowledge or experience.

The group noted that already the deficiencies of the new appointee had begun to show as the retiring Clerk, Ojo, had been instructed not to disengage immediately until February, so as to guide Tambuwal through the processing of the 2023 Appropriation Bill.

NED lamented: “This demand that the outgoing NA Clerk should hang around to babysit Tambuwal through the processing of the 2023 budget is unprecedented, laughable, and justifies the current call that he should never have been appointed in the first place.”