The Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, Ph.D, has said due to the high turnover of members of the 10th House after the last elections, the National Assembly is now faced with the challenge of capacity development.
This is just as the Speaker has called for experienced professionals to serve as aides to members of the National Assembly.
Speaker Abbas made this known when the board and management of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) visited him at his office in Abuja on Tuesday.
The Speaker noted that the visit by the NASC leadership would afford both sides the opportunity for frank exchange of ideas to further strengthen the capacity of the National Assembly to perform its role as a co-equal branch of the government in the present democratic dispensation.
Speaker Abbas said: “The 10th House of Representatives and, indeed, National Assembly is faced with the challenge of capacity development with the high turnover of members from the last election. This demands a bureaucracy that is well equipped to demonstrate competence and reliability by providing guidance to the new members.
“You must, as a commission, show more diligence in your appointment of staff, including the legislative aides to members, to ensure that those you engage following the recommendations of members are people with the requisite capacity to support their principals to succeed. There is no better way to build a legislative institution to meet the yearnings of the people.”
He also stated that one of his cardinal policies as Speaker of the 10th House was to ensure capacity development for members and staff of the National Assembly.
“In this regard, I have engaged with and will continue to engage technical partners, civil society organisations (CSOs) and donor agencies to provide technical support in this direction. The aim is to have an institution with requisite manpower to compete with any Legislature across the globe,” he added.
The Speaker also stated that it was his desire that the National Assembly had a Legislative Aides Corps that would be a pool of professionals and resource for members, “without having to be struggling to assemble a new crop of aides after each election cycle.”
Speaker Abbas said: “In this regard, the commission is expected to create a dedicated directorate with qualified and competent personnel to drive this vision for the interest of the legislature and consolidation of our legislative practice. All these will be possible if the commission is determined and focused to work with the National Assembly to achieve good results.”
The Speaker called for the strengthening of the existing relationship between NASS and NASC “to enable us collectively work together to achieve positive results.”
While pointing out that the National Assembly must have a functional scheme of service and defined line of succession for seamless transition in the event of vacancy, especially in the office of the Clerk to the National Assembly, he noted that the National Assembly Service Act provided the commission with the procedure, guide and requirements for the appointment of Clerk to the National Assembly. “The same applies to all positions in the bureaucracy. The National Assembly should lead by example,” he said.
Earlier in his address, Chairman of the NASC, Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi, said with the Speaker’s antecedent as “an experienced public officer and a legislator, we have no doubt in our minds that you will steer the affairs of the House of Representatives to an enviable height.”
Amshi also said the Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, “is another experienced Legislator, whose election we see as a round peg in a round hole.”
The NASC chairman added that the choice of the principal officers of the House “is equally an indication that great things are in the offing for the citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through your legislative functions.”