INTERVIEW WITH THE CLERK HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BARR. AKABUEZE FRANCIS CHINEDU.
Good morning Sir, My name is Stanley Ogbori and this is my colleague Tonia Ameh. We are from Continental Network News(CNN)
QUESTION 1: The first question is, could you tell us about yourself? Who is Bar. Akunueze Francis Chinedu?
ANSWER: I am a person investment, a public servant as you know I am a clerk in the house of representative. That’s basically all about Bar. Akubueze.
QUESTION 2: could you tell us a little bit of your background, we know you went to university of Nigeria Enugu campus where you tea law, we know you also started working in National Assembly in 1992.
ANSWER: I was born on the 11th of December 1964 to the family of late Chief and Mrs. Jane Akubueze of Aron in Elele south local government area of Anambra state. I started my primary education in 1971 shortly after the civil war, my generation would have started around 1969 but the war didn’t allow us to do that so I started in 1971, I finished primary education in 1977 and proceeded to St. Paul seminary Okpor in Anambra state where I did my first year of secondary education after which I moved to Ohanor seminary Onitsha where I continued till 1981 after class 4 level. I left the seminary for Kolary comprehensive secondary school in Enugu where I did my school certificate examination in 1982, there after in 1983, I gained admission into the university of Nigeria where I read law. I graduated in 1987 and then proceeded to the Nigerian law school where I obtained Barrister of law certificate and then got called to the Nigerian bar on the 3rd of November 1988. I proceeded to National youth service camp in owerri (Imo State) I served at the chambers of E.T Nsufa & company. After passing out in 1989, I went back to onitsha and joined the chamber of Okemorah & company. I practiced law for 3years between 1989-1992, when I now gained employment at the National Assembly where I have been working since
QUESTION 3: so sir, what would you say has been your challenges since assumption into office?
ANSWER: as clerk of the house of representative, the challenges is just the usual challenges of funds we are experiencing in the country, in the service and everywhere generally. To enable us get all the tools we require, our staffs require working materials and the leadership of the house at National Assembly are doing all they can but funds is always the challenge and it is equally not enabling us to put our staff to the required training and retraining that you know is made for productivity. The world is fast changing and if you don’t expose your staffs to training in modern facilities and practices they lack behind in those areas. So I would say inadequacy of funds to enable us acquire the relevant materials and to equally enable us train and retrain our staff, those are major challenges we are experiencing.
QUESTION 4: so what has been your achievements since emergence as clerk House of Representatives?
ANSWER: I don’t think I should be in the position to talk about my achievements, I am partly one year in office (I’ll be clocking a year on the 25th of November) in that period, as Eurocrats we have been supporting the leadership of the house in the passage of critical legislation and critical motions. One of the major legislation I can easily point at is the “Petroleum Industry Act”. The petroleum industry bill as it then was started its journey about 2003 thereabout (I’m not too sure) but it has been in the coolers in the National Assembly for almost 20years or thereabouts. So this current assembly must take credit for finally breaking the jinx and passing it. And then the electoral act which is still in the works because two chambers passed the electoral act with some differences and as it is required by the constitution, the constitution states that laws must be passed in identical fashion by both houses before it can be forwarded to the president for accepting it, so being that they were some differences in the bill passed by both houses conference committee has been empaneled and they will sit and resolve these differences before it can be moved so those are the two critical legislation that have been passed, there are quite a number of others and we have various bills at various aspects of the societal life and various levels. Some are at first, second reading stage and a good number at various committees are awaiting public hearing then there are critical motions the house has had to pass on a daily basis, the house any time it is sitting deliberates on more than five motions and resolutions are adopted as a result.
On of the most critical one is the one I had to concur with the senate which we can now call concurrent resolutions of both houses calling on the presidency to declare bandits as terrorists, so it’s not often that you get the two chambers adopting a common resolution, so those are some of the critical measures I can say we have tried as Democrats because we have political leaders we work for so usually we are seen not hear, we wok behind the scenes and ensure they succeed in their legislative mandate.
QUESTION 5: so sir, not to take you back, we will like to know how you became the clerk house of representative, did you lobby for it? We know you’ve been here for a very long while.
ANSWER: lobbying? I don’t think that lobbying is the right word to use in civil service appointments processes. As a civil servant, you rise, like I said I joined the National Assembly in 1992 as legal officer 1 (that’s level 8), then I have been attending promotions as at when due, at that level, every 3 years you attend promotions interview, if you pass, you are promoted to the next level, so I attended promotion interview and got promoted to level 9. Three years after I got promoted to level 10 after another interview 3 years after I got promoted to level 12, level 13, level 14, and then I got promoted to level 15 when I became due. From level 15, you now have to spend 4 years instead of 3 years. When it was time to be promoted to level 16, I attended interview and by the grace of God I passed and was promoted. on January 1st 2017, I then got promoted to level 17 which is the level of Director which is the highest level obtainable in the promotion process in the civil service, others are appointments, so you now need to have a dose of luck and God’s mercies in your favor because they are other many competent people who could be promoted to those positions but by the special grace of God after my promotion as a director in 2017, I continued working with the house. In July 2019, I was appointed Deputy clerk administration in the house and that was the position I held until the National Assembly service commission was reconstituted in March 2020. And then by September 30th 2020 I had the privilege of being appointed as clerk house of representative. So that’s my journey. I don’t know about lobbying but if by lobbying you meant preparing myself for possible appointment that’s how it came about any other person could have been here, the fact that I am here doesn’t mean that I am the most qualified or most knowledgeable.
QUESTION 6: so Sir, In Edo state, the clerk was alleged to have connived with the governor in the emergence of the speaker of the house of assembly via the governor giving the proclamation order at night for the inauguration of the house of assembly speaker and also in Plateau state, six houses of assembly members with the help of the clerk of the state house of assembly impeached the speaker. Some other clerk of different houses of assembly has been involved in a couple of scandals, it is believed that clerks play a major role in the legislative which is one of the strongest arms of government. What are you doing as the clerk of the house of representative to check the excesses of the clerk of the house of assembly?
ANSWER: firstly am sure you know that’s not part of my job profile, that’s clearly a political matter but the only thing I need say about this is that lack of financial autonomy for state houses of assembly has not enabled the state houses of assembly to exercise a measure of autonomy in carrying out their assignments. It’s a major draw back because as at now, the state houses of assembly rely on the executive arm for release of funds for its operations and that situation cannot make for autonomy of the state houses of assembly unlike what obtains in the National Assembly where the National Assembly obtains financial autonomy and is on the first line charge on the consolidated revenues form that is why the National Assembly is able to exercise its independence and able to invite officers from the executive arm of government for investigation and is also able to conduct oversight funds on some departments, ministries and agencies of the executive arm of government. Similar situation does not play out in the state houses of assembly because of the attempts of the government to exercise power on the house funds. The earlier the state houses of assembly are made to become financially autonomous, the better for the system to grow.
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