Of Nigeria’s Constitution and Abia State House of Assembly Service Commission.. by Henry Madubuike

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Constitutionalism is a “compound of ideas, attitudes and patterns of behavior, elaborating the principle that the authority of Government derives from and is limited by a body of fundamental laws”.

Another school of thought holds that same Constitutionalism is “a political philosophy based on the idea that government authority is derived from the people and should be limited by a constitution that clearly expresses what the government can do or cannot do”.

Under Constitutionalism, power is not concentrated in any one organ of the State but diffused, that is, divided among the THREE organs of the State, viz a viz the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.

This discourse attempts to deepen an already existing constitutional position, binding on all within the circumference of it’s letter and spirit, highlighting on the basis of inalienable disposition of the concept of power separation as the kernel of democracy in/and governance.

This shall also be narrowed down to the long standing struggle for the establishment of the Abia State House of Assembly Service Commission, which has the backing of a piece of legislation in Abia State, “Abia State House of Assembly Service Commission Law” the Law #8 of 2019 and the birthing of same in 2024, with it’s attendant benefits and contributions to Parliamentary Bureaucracy.

Following all the above, resilience and dogged consistency are part of the hallmarks of administrative sagacity, though technical support of comrades knowledgeable via the tenets and objectives of the struggle remain sacrosanct.

Though Constitutionally viable, liquid struggle and industrial agitations were deployed to finally birth the long awaited Abia State House of Assembly Service Commission and salute, maximally should be given to the present Administration in Abia State, on its insight and foresight to fostering genuine entrenchment of Democracy to giving room for independence of organs of Government as stipulated in Nigeria’s Constitution.

Montesquieu, following the above, comes to mind.

Though many do not comprehensively appreciate the import of the “Commission” mantra, it must be brought to bare that same buttresses, in all intents and purposes, the letter and spirit of the concept of Separation of Powers, which Montesquieu propounded, highlighting that each organ of Government paraphernalia must not only be said to stand on its own, administratively and financially, but seen as such, hence making room for zero interference of any kind, though practically speaking, there is an intrinsic interwoven disposition, when the wheel of progress must be oiled for the general good.

From the foregoing, the crux of this piece is the Legislature and Constitutionalism and the Legislature, that same bastion or galvanizer that democratizes a Government, that is, in very simplistic explanation, implies that the Executive and Judiciary can culminate to a Government but the LEGISLATURE, exponentially legitimizes a Government as a DEMOCRACY, given the fact that same is ‘engined’ by the people and for same, and the only strategem to which the people can and must be heard is through the Legislature.

The birth of the Abia State House of Assembly Service Commission has lent credence to the concept of participatory democracy, which brings on board a full fledged and independent parliamentary bureaucracy which smoothly detaches the bureaucracy of the Legislature from that of the Executive, popularly known as the Civil Service.

Invoking the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), Civil Service according to Section 318 of same in its Interpretative Act is seen as Executive bureaucracy, that is an enterprise of the Executive organ, whole and entire.

Do note that State Houses of Assembly Service Commission is one of the bodies enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Fifth Alteration, thus NOT a favour done to State Legislatures by Executive Governors and also grants Subnational Legislatures administrative and financial independence following the establishment of same, though as it is said in the Labour and Industrial Relations maxim, Aluta Continua.

In the light of the above, until the State House of Assembly Service Commission is in place, talks about the independence of the Legislature remain mere lip services and evidently kwashiokored!

Going forward, viz a viz the constitutional correctness of the coming into force of the Assembly Service Commission, with say the position on the Clerk to the House, with a look in at Section 93 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Fifth Alteration): “There shall be a Clerk to a House of Assembly and such other Staff as may be PRESCRIBED BY A LAW ENACTED BY THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, and the method of appointment of the Clerk and other Staff of the House shall be prescribed by that Law.”

So, going by same Section 93 of Nigeria’s Constitution, it is a clear breach of same, with profound respect to the Office of the Governor of any State, to appoint a Clerk for the State Legislature and/or equate a Clerk to a Permanent Secretary.

Thus, appointment of Clerk is clearly a function of the State Assembly Service Commission, going by same Section 93. This clarification is necessary as it is germane. Moreso,it is also an act of ignorance to describe the Clerk and other Staff of the State Legislature as “Civil Servants”, going by the interpretation of Section 318 of Nigeria’s Constitution. Assembly Staff are “Public Servant”, making the Clerk the #1 Public Servant in a State, digging deeper.

Others areas of critical importance shall be x-rayed subsequently as the issue under discourse cannot be exhausted in this single piece. Moreover, that the Legislature is the bastion of Democracy cannot be underemphasized which makes it imperative for the Institution to be given it’s pride of place given it’s critical and strategic importance in democratic development.

This treatise is majorly for purposes of highlighting on the correctness, politically and otherwise, the establishment of the Abia State House of Assembly Service Commission and it’s contributions to constitutional adherence because anything “that is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution, to the extent of it’s inconsistency shall be null and void…”

This is salute to courage, consistency and resilience.

Aluta Continua as criticism is welcome.

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