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NASS Service Commission  & Continued Exclusion Of South East ~ By Charles Ogbu



May 30, 2019 is by the corner and despite the controversies (even among the Igbo) dogging the usual sit-at-home declared by pro-Biafra groups, notably IPOB, millions of Ndigbo, world over, are still eagerly looking forward to sitting at home to mourn the fallen heroes in the 30-month civil war and protest their continued exclusion under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

According to a 6th May 2019 story exclusively published by Sun Newspapers, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari on December 20, 2018 nominating members of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC). President Buhari is expected to, within one month, (30 days), act on the list of the nominees.

Section 3 (3) (3) of the National Assembly Service Commission Act provides: “The President of the Senate shall, upon consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, submit to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria a proposed list out of which the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall nominate for appointment, the chairman and members of the commission.”
Section 3 (3) (4) of the Act also states: “The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall appoint the chairman and members of the commission from the list submitted to him in accordance with the provision of subsection (3) of this section, subject to the conformation by the Senate.”

Therefore, in a letter to President Buhari entitled “Nomination for chairman and commissioners of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), the Senate President wrote: “I have the honour to present to Mr. President a list of nominees for appointment as Chairman and Commissioners of the National Assembly Commission (NASC). This is in compliance with Section 3(3) and (5) of the National Assembly Service Commission Act 2014”

The nominees made up of a Chairman and two members from the six geopolitical zones are: Senator Joy Emodi (Chairman); Henry Odey-Adaga (member). Dr. Rufus Omeire (member), Nuhu Musa (Member). Bilyaminu Yusuf Shinkafi (member)’ Femi Agege (member), Efiok Essien Cobham (member), Dauda Bunbot (member), Ahmed Ashemi (member), Uthman Olakunle Taofeek (member), Prince Adeneke Olaferu-Olagbebi (member), Awalu Aliyu Ohindase (member) and Amb. Abdulazeez Sheik Usman (member).

The law does not allow the President the luxury of eternity to appoint the submitted names and send the list to the Senate for confirmation. Section 5(3) of the NASC Act unambiguously provides: “Upon the coming into force of this Act or upon the expiration of the life of the Commission at any time or upon the vacancy occurring in the membership of the commission, the President shall send the appropriate nominations to the National Assembly within 30 days of being requested to do so.”

30 days! According to the National Assembly Service Commission Act.

But over five months since the Senate President forwarded the nominees to the President, the “Presidency” is still sitting on the list. Information from the grapevine has it that some persons have vowed that a South Easterner cannot sit as Chairman of Commission. The scriptwriters are said to be angling for an octogenarian from the northern part of the country, who retired nearly two decades ago as Clerk to the National Assembly. The other information has it that some interest in the bureaucracy of the National Assembly are buying time for the current Assembly and Saraki’s tenure to expire so that their anointed candidate as Senate President will make fresh nominations which of course, will not have an Igbo as Chairman.

It is not as if those pursuing this agenda (for their own selfish interest even though it is masked as northern interest) did not know that the first NASC from June 2001-May 2006, had Mr. Ishaya Dare Akau from Kaduna (North West) as Chairman. It is not that they are oblivious of the fact that Aliyu Ahmed Dogondaji, the second Chairman of the NASC (July 2006 -May 2011) was from Sokoko (North West). It also not that they are unaware that the immediate past Chairman of the Commission, whose tenure expired in July 2018 had Dr. Adamu Fika from Yobe (North East) as Chairman.

No, they are aware. It is just a selfish interest and determination to exclude the South East from the scheme of things.

Now, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in its first tenure, ensured that the South East APC was excluded from the political leadership of the National Assembly. None of the two South House of Reps Members elected on the platform of the APC was considered for even Whip of the House in their sharing formula. But for the providential re-emergence of Chief Ike Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President, South East would have been condemned to peeping from a distant sideline like we have it in the security sector.

In the incoming 9th National Assembly, the party does not also deem it fit to zone any presiding officer seat to the South East.

To complete the cycle, they are also working hard to ensure that South East does not also amount to anything in the administrative leadership of the National Assembly.

Some highly credible sources conversant with this brazen attempt to exclude the South East in the composition believe the President is not part of this particular impunity, as he would have since appended his signature as spelt in the law and return same to the Senate President within 30 days. I do not totally disagree with them since one area this President has done something differently from his predecessors is that he always write to communicate his acceptance or veto of legislative instruments such as Bills. But at the same time, I am tempted to respectfully disagree with them because the buck stops at the President’s table.

The law does not say the Clerk to the National Assembly or Senior Special Assistant to the President on NASS Matters or an annointed aspirant to the Senate Presidency or one cabal or aide “shall send the appropriate nominations to the National Assembly within 30 days of being requested to do so”. No! It says the President shall do so!

Since the north has produced all the Chairmen of the NASS Commission since it was established, what the hell is wrong and abominable in a South Easterner heading that Commission for just once? Why would some people continue to sit on the lawfully transmitted nominations into the NASS Commission even when they are clearly acting in breach of the provisions of NASC Act and the Federal Character Principle enshrined our constitution just to spite a people?

It is calculated exclusions, assaults, and provocations such as this that make the younger generation of Ndigbo to see Nigeria as one big joke where they have no future whatsoever.

How can we continue to mouth off ‘OneNigeria’ in words while we continue to demonstrate the exact opposite in action?

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