By Chukwu Edeoga
Change, they say, is the constant in human evolution and the National Assembly is no exception as the management has taken drastic and far reaching steps to re-organise and restructure the entire NASS bureaucracy in order to provide seamless and responsive service delivery to the Nigerian people in line with the established practice and procedure of the national parliaments in the advanced democracies like U.K, U.S.A, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Having in mind the severe dislocation and truncation suffered by the legislature especially the National Assembly during years of unbroken military rule, when the second arm of the government was dissolved and its operations kept in abeyance, there is a reigning consensus among key parliamentary experts and legislative apparatchiks that this time around, there must be concrete and credible reforms on ground to ensure that the Nigerian legislature especially the National Assembly is established on an unshakable foundation that can stand the vagaries and vicissitudes of the national and even global political & socio economic climate.
With this forward looking policy, the National Assembly management has moved swiftly and decisively to overhaul the operational, administrative, and organizational frame work in order to enthrone greater technical competence, enhanced professionalism and exemplarily professionalism in the work ethics of the nation’s foremost lawmaking organ. Unlike in the past when cronyism, godfatherism, nepotism, favouritism held sway in the precincts of NASS, the dominant administrative paradigm presently is the doctrine of ‘square pegism’ that is a square peg must be ensconced in a square hole meaning that only the most competent and qualified personnel can fill a particular vacancy, no matter the religious, linguistic or geographical affiliation of such a personnel. Those that were used to the old and discarded sharp practices of ‘scratch my back’, I scratch yours’ have had to rethink their mediocre disposition or be shown the way out as there is zero tolerance for sloth, idleness, mediocrity or malingering in the brand new NASS.
Transparency, accountablility, due process and the rule of law have been elevated to the highest level possible by the present NASS management as contract awards, pre-qualifications, tenders., etc, now follow the uncompromising diktat of the Public Procurement Act while fat cat contractors and consultants who fed fat and garrulously from the coffers of NASS have been shown the way out to make way for hardworking, dedicated and competent ones who must carry out their terms of contract to the letter without fear or favour.
Apart from the establishment of specialized bodies and institutions to complement the work of NASS, e.g the National Assembly Budget Research Office (NABRO); the National Institute Of Legislative Studies (NILS); the NTA Parliarment and state of the art & fully equipped ICT department/center among other creative innovations, the management has thoroughly revolutionized the NASS organogram by the creation of brand new secretariats in place of the previous departments/directorates that previously held sway. Five new secretariats have been created in accordance with s.6 (b) vii of the National Assembly Service Commission Act namely Finance and Accounts (AlhajiLasisiBukoye); Corporate Affairs (Alhaji M. Suleiman); Common Services (DrEmeEfretuei); Legal Services (Barr D.T. Adem); Procurement, Estate & Work (Mr O.O. Adelami) and they are headed by highly qualified experienced public-officers who have proved their mettle in various challenging tasks & assignments all over the years.
This nascent secretariats report directly to the Clerk of the National Assembly, AlhajiSalisuMaikasuwa who played a positive role in their formation believing rightly so that there was a need to decentralize pivotal administrative functions in order to ensure a more efficient and responsive bureaucratic structure that would satisfy the legislative appetite of the federal legislators (109 senators and 360 House members) as well as the yearnings and aspirations of over 170 million Nigerians. Rather than engage in power aggregation and self aggrandizement Maikasuwa believes that greater decentralization of power and functions will provide favorable conditions for the enthronement of transparency, accountability and due process in the NASS system and boost the morale and productivity of the staff and management as a whole. A lot of favorable reviews and commentaries have trailed the establishment of the brand new directorates.
Barr.ChukwuEdeoga, a legislative affairs expert, sent in this piece from Victoria Island, Lagos state