A New Dawn for Legislative Aides

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BY Chidiebere Nwobodo

The expiration of 7th National Assembly lifespan drew curtain on the Executive of the Mahmud Abdulkadir-led National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum (NASSLAF). This, invariably, created a leadership vacuum in the forum. The inauguration of 8th National Assembly on 9th of June, 2015 ushered in new set of members of NASSLAF, who were left without clear-cut leadership.

After several months of pronounced and conspicuous leadership vacuity in NASSLAF, National Assembly Management headed by Clerk of National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikashuwa, in his profound wisdom of quintessential leadership, had on 22nd of March constituted NASSLAF Caretaker Committee led by Sam Melaye, as Chairman and seven members, representing different zones of the country. The well-thought-out decision of the management was borne out of principle of doctrine of necessity, which became imperative to fill the leadership void.

The main objective of this caretaker committee, as explicitly stated in the appointment letters given to its Chairman and members, is to effectively pilot the affairs of NASSLAF for a period of three months, at which the committee is expected to furnish the management with adequate information regarding NASSLAF’s preparation to convoke a congress of all 2015-2016 Legislative Aides Forum for the purpose of free, fair and credible election to all members, that will herald emergence of substantive NASSLAF Executive.
Apart from Melaye, who was appointed interim Chairman of NASSLAF, other members of the caretaker committee and different zones they are representing are as follows: Obiora Okpala (South-East), Ibrahim Nasir (North-West), Akpan Elijah Benny (South-South), Sheriff Yusuf Banki (North-East), Joshua Laven (North-Central), and Ayodele Adekunle (South-West). The committee which was instantaneously inaugurated by Clerk of National Assembly, Alhaji Salisu Maikashuwa within the premises of National Assembly and in the presence of all the representatives of various security agencies, was urged to protect collective interest of NASSLAF members and carry along every Tom, Dick and Harry.
The Caretaker Chairman of NASSLAF Melaye, who is without traits of political chicanery and grandiloquent speech, promised to re-positioned NASSLAF under his leadership, as progressive forum par excellence, deploring his leadership wherewithal cum intellectual dexterity, to ignite a re-birth of new NASSLAF of which every bona fide Legislative Aide would be proud of, within stipulated timeframe, given to the Committee by National Assembly Management.
With every sense of sincerity, I think National Assembly Management under the drive of Maikashuwa, should be highly and passionately commended for taken this landmark decision at his critical juncture in the life of NASSLAF, after wide consultation. This development can be likened to an employer of labour helping to strengthened Labour Union in his organisation, of which will still come back to checkmate the same management on workers’ rights and staff welfare. If the Maikashuwa-led Management of National Assembly is an exploitive one, it would not have thought in this noble path, because a headless cum spineless NASSLAF, will not be in the best position to protect interest of its members.
Be that as it may, the appointment and inauguration of Melaye-led NASSLAF did not come without lonely dissecting voices at the background, whose aborted mission was to polarise and factionalize current Caretaker Committee of NASSLAF via subterfuge means. These are people that never complained, or agitated through this period NASSLAF was without known leadership, ever since 8th National Assembly was birthed.
Instead, they were busy conspiring and scheming how to hijack NASSLAF leadership, or possibly gate-crashed into NASSLAF Executive. But the timely constitution of this Caretaker Committee punctured all the divisive plots of these shenanigans, whose desperation to create imaginary crisis in NASSLAF using propagandist instigated stories in the media, is second to none.
These recalcitrant renegades held a kangaroo meeting on Sunday in one of the hotels in Abuja, after which they issued out statement announcing, purported “removal of Sen. Dino Melaye’ brother” as Chairman of Caretaker Committee of NASSLAF. The fallacy and lies-ridden press release, was debunked immediately by Sam Melaye, who dismissed his purported removal as figment of imagination of those propagating it. He therefore, in his established predilection for spirit of magnanimity and sportsmanship—which is the hallmark of a true leader, beckoned on his aggrieved colleagues, who wish to lead the group through constitutional process, to join hands with his committee and participate in a free and fair election that would produce substantive elected officials of NASSLAF in the nearest future.
If I may ask, can one remove someone he did not have power to install ab initio? Is Sam Melaye’s only offence as a result of his relationship with Sen. Dino Melaye? Why make mountains out of peccadilloes? Does being Sen. Dino Melaye’s brother invalidate his constitutional and fundamental rights to hold any position, vote or be voted for? Must every sinew be strained? What would have been the fate of Bushs, Clintons and Kennedys of United States of America if they were born in Nigeria?
If few legislative aides, have now abounded their primary assignment in National Assembly—which is aiding their principals as their names applies, to embark on wild goose chase of desperately gunning for NASSLAF leadership at all cost, what would they do if given the opportunity, let say to contest for Senate Presidency or Speakership of House of Representatives? What Sam Melaye-led NASSLAF needs now, is not any form of grandstanding emanating from few aggrieved members of NASSLAF, but total, unalloyed and unreserved support from all members of NASSLAF to deliver in its new assignment.
Sam Melaye-led NASSLAF is vision-driven Caretaker Committee whose core mandates and objectives are well-articulated as follows:

• Manage the affairs and operations of NASSLAF in the interim, while creating enabling atmosphere that will herald conduct of credible and transparent election for emergence of substantive NASSLAF Executive.

• Exploring alternative sources of revenue to run the affairs of NASSLAF, without deducting money from meagre earnings of aides.

• Enlightenment, sensitization and mobilization of Legislative Aides on the need to be active members as regards NASSLAF activities, in other to enhance transparency and accountability in day-day running of its affairs.

• Protection of Legislative Aides against undue denials, humiliation and marginalization in the conduct of their official functions.

• Pursuit of its economic interest in diplomatic manner that will make aides the pride of their Principles and model for Legislative Aides at other levels of government.

• Exploring the possibility of establishing a pool of experienced Aides, where virgin lawmakers could be encouraged to draw for. This is aimed at guaranteeing an appreciable future for Aides, who their Principals, could not retain their seats at the expiration of 7th National Assembly.
Team Melaye, as the name implies is therefore not a one man show, but an aggregation of visions aimed at projecting, protecting and sustaining the interest and welfare of Legislative Aides as elucidated above, without any form of discrimination, but within the ambits of law. It is therefore guided by a philosophy of non-violence, non-confrontational, but matured, intellectual, practical, dogged-feasible and sustainable pursuits.
All hands must be on deck to help the current NASSLAF Caretaker Committee led by Sam Melaye, to achieve its above stated vision and mission, which will go a long way in re-positioning NASSLAF, for effective and unflinching service delivering for Legislative Aides.
––Chidiebere can be reached at: Chidieberenwobodo@yahoo.com