By Mon-Charles Egbo
Within the last few weeks, the media space was dominated by issues about the tenure of the clerk to the National Assembly. It became such topical that it posed a challenge to the constitution.
Though it has been resolved, there are pertinent lessons to be learnt and things to know about the present occupant of the office.
It is common knowledge that whereas a dysfunctional bureaucracy is a threat to systemic efficiency and institutional development in the public service, the key to parliamentary excellence is a robust bureaucracy.
Similarly, the success or otherwise of an organization is a reflection of its workforce, quality of output and operating environment, the same way a parliament is assessed principally on the bases of legislation and overall interventions towards improving the living standards of the people.
This informs the acknowledgement that the prevailing poor public perception that trails the National Assembly is a direct consequence of the relative inefficient management of both the finance and personnel of the institution.
The poor administration of the National Assembly resources has lately become such teething that comprehensive reform is a task that must be accomplished for the legislative agenda of the 9th National Assembly to be realised. This indeed is the greatest challenge staring the leadership and management of the federal legislature.
Instructively, while the clerk statutorily heads the administrative arm doubling as the chief accounting officer of the institution, the president of the senate and assisted by the house speaker, on the other hand, is the political head otherwise referred to as the chairman of the national assembly.
And also, the administrative staff and the legislative aides constitute the overall workforce of the parliament. It is, therefore, the relative level of dispensing management and leadership that determines how efficient and productive the personnel become which in turn shapes the overall legislative outputs.
For instance, the 8th National Assembly passed the highest number of bills in the history of Nigeria among other achievements, but sadly, a greater portion of them were not accented to. Cited reasons were mostly “drafting errors” blamed squarely on lack of diligence on the part of both the administrative and legislative support staff which in turn depend largely on the disposition of the personnel as well as the work atmosphere.
Equally disturbing is a recent media report of humongous financial recklessness involving the national assembly and presently receiving the attention of the anti-graft agencies. This seriously questions the efficacy of the law-making body to drive the war against corruption when its own papers are not clean.
Hence, for the National Assembly to regain its pride of place among the global democracies, there must be among other things, a bureaucracy being superintended by a clerk that is not just a seasoned bureaucrat but grounded in the art of prudent handling of resources under his care. He must at all times demonstrate the inherent capacity and drive to leave the office better than he meets it through innovations and transformations.
Furthermore, such a candidate must be of sound pedigree and be seen to have come to leadership with a mindset to serve, deliver and not just be a boss. His record must sign-post a resolve to quickly key into the agenda of both the senate president and the speaker of the house to entrench transparency and due diligence particularly in the general financial affairs of the national assembly.
In other words, he must embody that corporate policy representing clear responsiveness to public outcry for transparent, dynamic and sustainable legislative and bureaucratic book-keeping that inspires productivity.
Then above all and beyond the fiscal and monetary discipline, he must show capacity and determination to create a modified work environment and ethics as well as a system that engenders highly motivated, productive and ambitious workforce for efficient service delivery.
Quite thankfully and of course going by his service credentials that are punctuated by a right mix of private and public sectors experiences, the eventual emergence of Arc. Olatunde Ojo as the clerk to the national assembly is empirically a round peg in a round hole relative to the foregoing. Diligent research shows that he has a performance record predicated on a sound mastery of dynamic leadership, intelligence, imaginative insight and fair judgement that combine to inspire productivity.
These attributes accentuated his style of administration previously, and expectedly, they shall be deployed to mobilize both the management and staff towards creatively complementing the aspiration of the national assembly leadership for a new way of doing things relative to contemporary parliaments world over.
Having risen through the rungs in his career progression and armed with excellent performance records, Ojo was adjudged eminently-qualified and worthy to assume the office vacated by the retired occupant.
Born on the 14th February 1963 at Ilobu town in Irepodun Local Government of Osun State, Olatunde Ojo has both bachelor and master’s degrees in architecture obtained in 1990 and 1992 respectively, from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. These he complemented with professional qualifications such as memberships of the Nigerian Institute of Architect, NIA, and the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria, ARCON.
After over a decade of private professional practice, he was meritoriously enlisted into the services of the National Assembly as the chief architect of the then newly-established department of estate and works in 2004. He was saddled with the overarching responsibilities of ensuring ordered physical planning and development of the premises of the complex.
Through dint of hard work, diligence, exceptional professionalism and commitment to duties, he rose to the position of assistant director after-which he became the deputy director and finally the director, all in quick succession.
The major infrastructural improvements that have taken place in the National Assembly were sequel to his design and supervision. It is even on record that he has to his name among others, the edifice housing the headquarters of the Nigeria police force in Abuja.
Having had fulfilling stewardship as the pioneer permanent secretary, procurement, estate and works, Arc. Ojo parades enviable service credentials typical of a result-oriented leader that is well-equipped for opportune moments to serve.
And because he is largely versatile with both the environment and workings of the institution in all ramifications, he would certainly even within a short stay in office, fortify his place in history in line with the prevailing upward trajectory that has defined the 9th national assembly’s deliberate commitment to transparent and prudent management.
Also expectedly, he would import and expand the culture of integrity, inclusiveness, tolerance and principled stance on issues into the bureaucracy which he had engendered in his previous duty posts that eventually were cumulative bases for his accelerated growth and elevation.
Again and having creditably overseen the procurement processes and procedures of this critical arm of government, Arc. Olatunde Ojo is unarguably at a vantage position to add impetus to the on-going reforms initiated by the Ahmad Lawan leadership aimed at among others; blocking the various revenue and man-hour leakages, paying attention to staff welfare and development, restructuring the security architecture of the national assembly as well as the deployment of modern information and communications technology in the overall operations of the national assembly.
Arc. Ojo has over the years demonstrated immense capacity and administrative ingenuity to birth a reformed and reinvigorated bureaucracy that catalyzes the enabling environment for the application of parliamentary rules and statues towards legislative excellence. His meteoric rise in public service culminating to elevation to the peak of his career is an eloquent testimony that he is indeed a well-grounded bureaucrat.
A serving director referred to Ojo as “a liberal fellow and a team player of a cosmopolitan disposition reputed for excellence”. His Osun State kinsmen at the national assembly described him as “a humorous but rugged and versatile intellectual…..easy going, level- headed, unassuming and God-fearing”.
In their goodwill message to him, the legislative aides of the National Assembly who have been lately exposed to all manner of deprivations and denials of legitimate entitlements stated that “we are particularly delighted that you are coming to serve at a time there are institutional challenges that clearly require dispassionate and dynamic leadership which we are convinced that you have the capacity, character and competence to deliver. Also Sir, your appointment is a solution as well as an idea whose time has come”.
Therefore objectively, the goodwill and credibility Arc. Olatunde Ojo Amos has built over the years of service of God and humanity would avail him the sufficient catalyst for significant development of the parliament’s bureaucracy in the days ahead and generally see him through the challenges of his new calling.
Egbo is a public relations practitioner