National Assembly: Martins Oloja’s Biased Appraisal

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By Adesoro Tolu Austen

“The more we’re thrown into conflict with each other through engineered distrust, the less able we are to unite against those responsible.” – Deshanne Stokes

Martins Oloja’s authorship of the article which he tittled: “NASS Watch: Deconstructing Our Chaotic National Assembly”, published on December 13, 2020 on the Guardian opinion page, only proved his biased and pedestrian view about the 9th National Assembly.

Using the recent brewing constitutional crisis between the members of the House of Representatives and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, concerning the invitation extended to President Muhammadu Buhari on the worsening security challenges in Nigeria, as an excuse, to tag honourable/distinguished members of the National Assembly, as “legislooters”, and other unprintable names, Martins Oloja went too far.

Oloja over-reached himself by turning the current misgivings or management of the President Buhari’s recent “failed invitation” by the House of Representatives, over security issues, into a reckless trigger, where he made every effort to shoot down the image and integrity of the entire National Assembly.

By trying to ridicule, incriminate, rubbish and paint honourable members of the 9th National Assembly in very negative and bad light, Oloja alleged that the 2021 Budget estimates being considered was undergoing ‘padding’ by lawmakers.

One would have expected a journalist of Martins Oloja’s status to have taken the pains to do a proper investigative journalism like the late Dele Giwa and other notable pen-pushers are known for, and then deliver it to the public, instead of piecemeal, sentimental, wide and parochial analysis, which was laced with visible malice.

The fact of the matter is that there is no perfect arm of government anywhere in the world, nor is anybody disputing that corrupt practices are not dangerous issues in our clime, prevalent in some sector of the nation, but in choosing to use a general quarrel or matter between Malami and the members of the House of Representatives to cast reckless aspersion on all members of the 9th National Assembly is most unprofessional, unethical and regrettable.

Oloja’s descending heavily on “Legislative Reporters”, calling them “Legislator-reporters” is another way of abusing and ridiculing his fellow professional colleagues covering the affairs of the National Assembly. As an editor, to what extent has he played his part to sanitize the profession or queried any of his reporter for not feeding him with the expected report from the National Assembly or petitioned the regulatory body, NUJ, for identified professional misconduct?

Why did Martins Oloja allow himself to be used fragrantly by his paid masters and desperate enemies of the 9th National Assembly, without resorting to decorum, civility and common sense? If Martins Oloja is indeed a competent and cerebral specie in the journalistic world in Nigeria, he would have painstakingly do a thorough work by profusely citing cases and instances where Legislative- Reporters, have turned into ‘Legislator-reporters’ within the National Assembly.

Oloja’s brazen, generalised and sarcastic accusation of his colleagues covering the affairs of the National Assembly has revealed one thing glaringly about his person: he is not only petty, jealous and narrow-minded; he is a master of the ‘pull-him-down-syndrone (PHD).
What did the legislative reporters covering the Ninth National Assembly do to Martins Oloja? Is he telling us that he is above the waters of ‘journalistic brown envelope’ in Nigeria?

An aspect of journalism is freedom to indentify your targeted interests in the society. Has Oloja not engaged in any form of public relations stuff since his foray into the journalistic world? Oloja must be reminded that, he who comes to equity must appear with clean hands. Are Oloja’s hands indeed very clean and clear in the media firmament in Nigeria?

When Martins Oloja wrote in his article that: “Unless the National leadership of the National Assembly reforms the bureacracy of the federal Legislature, the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), to produce technically competent Clerks at all levels, the tenure of the current leaders and members will be a disaster”, he sufficiently exposed his nativity, biased and pedestrian knowledge of the workings of the National Assembly.

Oloja does not know that the statutory clauses guiding the bureacratic business of the National Assembly are such that the political leadership is directly generated by certain vested and rooted political interests, even after the periodic national elections, while the ‘Clerks’ of the National Assembly, as career professionals, are directly responsible for the administrative affairs of the NASS.

Now, what offence have members of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) committed in the constitutional imbroglio arising from the ‘controversial invitation” extended to President Muhammadu Buhari?

Are the ‘Clerks’ in the National Assembly responsible, at any time, for the plenary decisions of the members of the National Assembly? Is it the duties of the ‘Clerks’ in the NASS to advise members of the 9th National Assembly to insist by any means necessary to drag Mr. President ‘live or dead’, to the floor of the National Assembly, in the name of the recent security challenges in the country?

What crimes or misadventures have members of the National Assembly Service Commission undertook that now make them ‘technically deficient’ in performing their official duties, concerning security challenges in the country?

Agreed that it is the duty of the political leadership of the National Assembly to put forward the names of candidates to be approved by the Executive branch as members of the National Assembly Service Commission, in what way has the competence of the present crop of NASC been compromised?

It is the National Assembly Service Commission that screens and approves the names of all ‘Clerkship’ within the National Assembly, in approving and substantiating the appointments of the current Clerk to the National Assembly, Clerk of the Senate and that of the House of Representatives. The Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi led National Assembly Service Commission, having thoroughly done its statutory investigations, has only succeeded in putting the best ‘brain boxes’
available ever to work in this 9th National Assembly.

In our evolving legislature, the fact is that the best global best practices are being pursued vigorously by the current leadership of the National Assembly.
Therefore, trying to score the 8th National Assembly above the present 9th National Assembly, because the leadership of the present NASS is engaging the Executive arm of government in peaceful, proactive, matured and constructive manner, is a great disservice to the spirit of sustainable democratic development in Nigeria.

In the face of the above analysis, it is abundantly clear that Martins Oloja is a paid agent of desperate yesterday men; legislative backwardness and a sworn enemy of legislative maturity and civility, who should be ignored by patriotic forces and concerned friends of our steady evolving parliamentary representation in Nigeria.
Adesor is the Special Adviser on media and labour to the Clerk to the National Assembly.

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