The Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Mr Sani Magaji Tambuwal stepped in the saddle in acting capacity in November 2022 amid some intrigues and shenanigans orchestrated by his predecessor, Architect Amos Ojo, who had, at that intersection, refused to proceed on his compulsory three months’ pre-retirement leave. Even though Tambuwal had to wait in the wings and operated as a “shadow” or “alternate” head of the administrative wing of the National Assembly, his leadership had already been heralded by the magnitude of excitement among the workforce of the legislature who craved an end to then CNA, Architect Ojo’s combative leadership and “loveless” relationship with the workers’ umbrella union, to wit: Parliamentary Association of Nigeria (PASAN).
The atmospherics of the National Assembly workplace and the nuances of the interactions between the leadership of the National Assembly bureaucracy and the staff members were denominated and characterized by tension created by mutual hostilities that were muted for a long time until PASAN was pushed into weaponizing protests and strikes to press home the workers’ demand for payment of their welfare package and entitlements, which accumulated under Ojo’s leadership.
Whereas the Ojo leadership frittered a historic opportunity of building a legacy of robust management-workers’ relationship through the pursuit of workers’ welfare, having once been a part of them, Sani Magaji Tambuwal has not allowed that opportunity to slip through his fingers. Even before he was confirmed as substantive CNA on March 29, this year, his body language while still operating in the shadow of Ojo, was indicative of a pro-worker welfare leader who would stop at nothing to ensure robust management-staff members’ relationship. That was an early signification that the Sani Magaji Tambuwal effect would become writ-large in preponderating the animus that had inserted an avoidable wedge between his predecessor and PASAN. Tambuwal presented and represented a leadership gravitas that prioritized welfare-induced harmony in the workplace and basically distinguished him from his predecessor.
When, for instance, on January 29, 2023, I published a story in THE CONCLAVE (my online news platform), entitled: “Excitement in NASS as Acting CNA moves to pay staff members’ N3.7bn CON-PECULIAR and other outstanding entitlements”, there was a commixture of excitement and pessimism among the staff members.
I recall how PASAN had, in a swift riposte to the story, circulated a WhatsApp rejoinder, debunking the report on the one hand and on the other hand in the same rejoinder, announcing that it was already engaging with management on the issue of the payment. The statement was signed by PASAN’s Public Relations Officer, Amos Ononbong, although he only indicated his office in the WhatsApp statement without his name.
Read the rejoinder: “Respected members, the attention of EXCO of PASAN, National Assembly Chapter has been drawn to a newspaper publication captioned: “Excitement in NASS as Ag. CNA moves to pay staff members N3.7bn CONPECULIAR and other outstanding entitlements. PASAN wishes to debunk this newspaper report as misleading and uncalled for. While it is correct that the Management of National Assembly is owing our members arrears of CONPECULIAR allowance, PASAN wishes to inform her members that it has been engaging MGT (management) on the issue. Hence, members are hereby directed to disregard the newspaper report as that is not the appropriate channel of communication for staff members in the National Assembly in particular and the public service in general. “Our members are hereby admonished to desist from peddling rumours on administrative and financial issues in our workplace as PASAN will from time to time give update(s) on issues regarding our welfare through the PRO on all our platforms and notice boards. Thank you.”
PASAN’s reaction was understandable. It did not want the issue in the public sphere; and, perhaps, concerned that some powerful elements in the political wing of the National Assembly could “intimidate” Tambuwal to reconsider his plan. But the good news is that, as of today, the Tambuwal effect has crystallized in the clearance of outstanding workers’ welfare packages and entitlements. This is just one in the plethora of offerings that he has availed the workers in the National Assembly. A seasoned technocrat and budget officer par excellence, his administrative savoir faire and legislative experience for over three decades, have, no doubt, been summoned by him to define the shape, form, content and context of his “new era” leadership.
Sani Magaji Tambuwal has taken the bull by the horns in his conscious bid to re-write the unsavory and badly-contrived recent history of NASS leadership, and, to in the process of that narrative, etch his name in gold by making significant marks through mandate deliverables. So far, since stepping in the saddle about a year ago, Tambuwal has remained sharply focused on staff welfare issues. As a budget officer, he has been addressing them within the limits of available resources and in the overarching contexts of justice, fairness, and equity for all irrespective of tribe and religion.
From the top to the lower rung of the ladder, it has been commendations galore for a Tambuwal leadership that has positively touched every directorate, department, and division of the NASS bureaucracy Besides, the ambience of NASS approaches the legend of heavenly peace. The quietude is almost tangible due to the confidence his leadership has restored in the staff members. Salary and other legitimate benefits are being paid as and when due. There has been a series of intensive training and retraining of both senior and junior staff members, an assignment that he does not take lightly. Just recently, some staff members undertook a security training and orientation at the DSS training institute in Bwari, with the aim of upscaling the security architecture in and around the NASS premises.
In Sani Magaji Tambuwal, passion is in warm embrace with an undying desire to promote harmony in the workplace, strengthen good relationship with the union and elevate management to the level of a guardian angel, ministering to the needs of everyone. That has fostered unprecedented peace and amity in NASS. Unlike previously, there is constant consultation- robust dialogue with PASAN, the workers’ union- before major decisions or actions are taken. This explains why the NASS has become stable and no longer fractious.
Tambuwal has been shrewd in the management of public finance, and this has built staff members’ goodwill for him. It is remarkable that as soon as he settled into office; and, realising the place of a healthy workforce in his growth and development agenda, he invested resources in the National Assembly Clinic to bring it up to the good standard in the industry. He is not done yet with the Clinic transformation as plans are afoot to equip it with state-of- the art facilities. Besides, as a strategic response to the current economic hardship, Tambuwal has provided more buses to help ameliorate the high transport fare staff members pay to the office and back to their homes. He is also exploring other ways to mitigate the impact of the harsh economic condition.
A cursory look at the premises of the National Assembly would show the beautification imprimatur of Tambuwal. There is remarkable physical transformation of the environment and the architectural masterpieces that dot the NASS premises. His leadership style derives from his demonstrated capacity and sagacity to manage the interplay among sundry forces that possibly, daily, conspire to discount the significant weight of his management. He relates well with the political wing of the National Assembly and his employer- the National Assembly Service commission (NASC). A devout Muslim, he believes in the munificence of God who reigns in the affairs of men, and whose interventions he needs always as he continues to occupy the NASS management driver’s seat.
● Ojeifo is publisher of THE CONCLAVE and can be reached via [email protected]