It is now very apparent that Senate president, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal are at loggerhead over who becomes the Chairman of National Assembly Service Commission [NASC], almost Two (2) years after the demise of Engineer Aliyu Dogondaji. This is clearly uncalled for because the Act establishing NASC without a doubt, stated who has authority of appointment.
Before now, it was believed in many quarters that the inability of the leadership of National Assembly to fill the existing vacancies in NASC was an oversight. This thinking has collapsed because two years of non existence of NASC leadership has proved them wrong. Clearly, there is a raging cold war between the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives on who should appoint the Chairman. The question here is could it be that the Act establishing NASC is not specific on who has the final authority to appoint the Chairman of the Commission? If the answer to this question is in the negative, what is delaying the filling of the existing vacancies in the Commission? The Senate President being the Chairman of the National Assembly and head of NASS deserves the right to appoint the Chairman of NASC; and therefore, cannot be the antagonist here.
Report has it that in accordance with the provision of the Act establishing NASC, the Senate President had consulted the Speaker in the process of making the appointment, but met stiff resistance. The Speaker was said to have insisted that the tenure of Engineer Aliyu Dogondaji had not expired as he had six (6) more months left in office before his demise; therefore, somebody from Sokoto State must step in as the Chairman to complete his tenure. It may be recalled that of the six months left for the late Chairman to stay in office, only three months was effective because he was to proceed on disengagement leave; this, the Senate President, was said to have made Hon. Tambuwal to understand without success.
Observers of events in National Assembly have reasoned that since the creation of National Assembly Service Commission, persons from the North-western part of Nigeria have been occupying the position of Chairman of NASC. On the balance of scale therefore, conceding to Hon. Tambuwal’s alleged choice of candidate may not allow for geo-political balancing. It was gathered that the Senate President had wanted somebody from the South West geo political zone to become the Chairman of the Commission to assuage the people from the zone who have been crying loud of marginalization in the current administration.
It is rather ironic that National Assembly that prides itself as the conscience of the Nation can allow a vital organ in its fold to function without a substantive Chairman for almost two years. The most shameful aspect of it all is that budgetary provisions might have been made for the offices in question in the years under review. This writer thinks the right thing to do in the circumstances we have found ourselves is the scrapping of NASC. But, must NASS allow the alleged belligerence of one man over the appointment of Chairman of NASC to herald the scrapping of the organ called NASC?
The time is ripe for Civil Society groups in Nigeria to stand up and ask the Senate President, who is the Chairman of National Assembly to take necessary steps forthwith to ensure the filling of existing vacancies in NASC. They should also make Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal to understand that the leader of NASS is Senator David Mark, just like President Goodluck Jonathan is the leader of the Executive arm of government, and therefore must respect his choice of Chairman for NASC. This writer hopes the Speaker will see reason and allow the leader to do the right thing, because as the saying in Igbo land goes, “He, who respects the king, is bound to become king”; we know that he has piloted the affairs of the House of Representatives credibly well, and the sky surely appears to be his limit if he keeps doing the right thing at the right time. And allowing his Chairman, David Mark to do his job is part of what is right.
•Emeka Oraetoka, Information Management Consultant & Researcher, wrote in from Garki Abuja via [email protected]