Intrigues, conflict of interests characterize change of leadership guard in NASS management as outgone CNA digs in, triggers anxiety among staff members

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National Assembly Complex, Abuja

The resolve by the outgone Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Architect Amos Olatunde Ojo, to stubbornly hold on to the reins of leadership in the National Assembly while on his three-month pre-retirement leave, and after the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) had appointed an acting CNA, Mr Magaji Sani Tambuwal, in his stead, is causing anxiety among staff members.

The anxiety heightened on Tuesday (November 22, 2022) when Architect Ojo reportedly presided over a meeting by the management of the National Assembly, amid initial apprehension that the development might trigger protest among staff members.

Architect Ojo was also in the office today (Wednesday) superintending over the day-to-day operations of National Assembly.

Prelude to the Tuesday appearance in office, the NASC chairman had on Monday summoned the outgone CNA, the acting CNA, the acting DCNA, security operatives in the National Assembly and a Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) representative to a meeting to discuss the Senate President’s letter for reconsideration of Arc Ojo’s continued stay in office.

The’ PASAN representative, as gathered, vehemently kicked against the arrangement, saying that it was alien to the Act establishing the NASC and the service rule and procedure for retirement and succession of officers.

He reportedly told the meeting that the decision was not grounded on precedents, explaining that since an acting CNA was in place, it was out of order by the fiat of the Senate President to impose the outgone CNA as a tutor on the acting CNA.

According to him: “When the immediate former CNA that Architect Ojo succeeded, Alhaji Sani Omolori, was hurriedly forced into retirement and Architect Ojo stepped in the saddle, nobody was foisted on him (Ojo) to tutor him on the workings of the Office of the CNA or on the need to work together until his (Omolori’s) terminal date. The institution continues to be there to provide the capacity and support for the office.”

Watchers of the National Assembly bureaucracy contend that the issue of authentication of the clean copy of 2023 appropriation bill that must be transmitted to the President for his assent in December is a one-off thing which Architect Ojo could be called upon to do as substantive CNA due for final retirement on February 14, 2023.

Apart from authenticating the clean copy of the budget for transmission to President Muhammadu Buhari, the argument is that Ojo has no other business at all functioning in office as outgone CNA when there is an acting CNA in office. This exercise should be disposed off in December, 2022.

A letter by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan to the Executive Chairman of the NASC, Engineer Amshi, THE CONCLAVE learnt, created the mischief that has disrupted what would have been a smooth transition and succession process.

As it is, two captains are perceived to be steering the ship of the National Assembly bureaucracy to the discontent of staff members who are eager to see the back of Architect Ojo after years of poor management-worker relations under his leadership.

THE CONCLAVE reports that Architect Ojo had reluctantly “proceeded” on his terminal leave after much ado on November 14, 2022, preparatory to his final exit (retirement) on February 14, 2023. He had on the night of November 14 moved his personal effects from the office in a truck.

But latching on the letter by the Senate President that ostensibly disrupted the due process of appointment of the CNA as recognized by the Act setting up the NASC, Architect Ojo decided to plot his way back to “office”.

The letter by the Senate President dated November 17, 2022 was a response to the letter of notification of commencement of terminal leave and final retirement of sitting CNA on February 14, 2023 by the Executive Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), Engineer Ahmed Kadi Amshi dated November 14, 2022.

The Senate President had, in the letter drawn the attention of the NASC chairman to what he referred to as some “inevitable exigencies of this time”.

He had cited the ongoing 2023 appropriation bill’s processing that should be transmitted in accordance with the provisions of the Authentication Act by only the substantive Clerk to the National Assembly within the January-December financial year brought to being and sustained by this 9th Assembly; and “equally, the necessity for a timeous and smooth handing over of the office of the CNA to the incoming CNA who must have been tutored by the outgoing CNA in the workings of the Office of the CNA cannot be overemphasized.”

“In view of the foregoing and the sufficiency of the pressures from electioneering campaign (sic) on legislative activities, you are requested to reconsider your earlier decision and allow the Clerk to the National Assembly, Architect Ojo Olatunde Amos, to remain in office during the retirement leave for the Acting Clerk to the National Assembly, when appointed, to work with him until his terminal date of 14th February, 2023; thereby averting the breach of Authentication Act as the highest law-making organ in Nigeria.”

The letter is the basis of anxiety that has enveloped the National Assembly bureaucracy. Some contend that except for alleged compromises, what is special about Architect Ojo to necessitate the Senate President’s waiver of his obligatory three-month pre-retirement leave.

Architect Ojo is expected to spend the three-month pre-retirement leave attending seminars and processing his documents in the service and with his Pension Funds Administrators for payment and management of his gratuities and pensions.

Some quarters are even questioning the likely understanding or deal between the Senate President and the Chairman of the NASC on the one hand and Architect Ojo on the other hand.

A stakeholder said in a chat with THE CONCLAVE that the Senate President and the NASC chairman should be wary of their actions and moves so that posterity will judge them in rightly.

He said that it was unfortunate that a seasoned and senior civil servant, who rose through the ranks to become Secretary, Finance and Accounts, and now Acting CNA, would be subjected to this kind of “embarrassing treatment”.

According to him: “the acting CNA has demonstrated capacity to occupy the plum office by all standard; he is competent, hardworking and trustworthy to assume that position;, and above all, if he was not the most senior and rightly qualified person, there was no way the NASC would have appointed him to be the Acting CNA at this point in time.

“So, the senate president and commission chairman, should respectfully retrace their steps and stop progressing in error, by withdrawing the so-called letter issued to allow Arc Ojo stay back. The system has a way of checking competence on the job. Why do some quarters want to keep under check the acting CNA?

“Arc Amos Ojo should be ordered to proceed on his pre-retirement leave immediately and save the civil service, National Assembly and the country, the embarrassment soon to come.”

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