10TH NASS: Meet Sani Tambuwal; Umpire for the Leadership Elections

Temidayo Taiwo-SidiqJune 12, 20237 min

On this edition of Parliament Spotlight, the focus is on key processes leading up to the election of Presiding Officers in both chambers of the National Assembly and Sani Magaji Tambuwal; the chief bureaucrat in Nigeria’s highest legislative body.


READ ALSO: Parliament Meme: 10 Things to expect at inauguration of 10th House


In a few hours, it will be yet another milestone in governance for Africa’s largest democracy; as the tenth set of federal legislators elected to the highest lawmaking institution in the country in February 2023 will be inaugurated.

In a democracy, the legislature is the first and foremost arm of government, as a primary function of government (law-making) is vested in the parliament, which is also the assembly of the elected representatives of the people that represent national public opinion and power of the people.

Just before these legislators take up their seats in parliament this Tuesday, 13th June 2023, they will perform the first task assigned to them in the Constitution upon the President’s proclamation of a new parliament into existence. This task will be to elect amongst themselves the Presiding Officers of the Senate and House of Representatives as contained in Section 50, subsection  (1)(a) and (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) 1999 (As Amended).

At the centre of this election, however, is the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), who is the principal administrator of the federal parliament and umpire for the Elections of the Presiding Officers in both chambers. This is as prescribed in Order 2 (2) of the Senate Standing Orders 2022 (As Amended) and Order 2, Rule 1 (3) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives.

According to the House Rule Book, “the election of the Speaker shall take precedence over any other business and no motion for adjournment or any other motion shall be entertained while it is proceeding and the House shall continue to meet, if necessary, beyond its ordinary daily time of adjournement, notwithstanding any Standing or Special Order, until a Speaker is declared elected.”

Essentially, 58-year-old Sani Magaji Tambuwal, appointed as substantive Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA) on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, will perform four core duties on the floor of both chambers of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

His duties will begin with a reading of the Proclamation by the President for holding the first session of the parliament, which will be followed by his call of the lawmakers to order, roll call and confirmation of writs of election as well as the declaration of assets and liabilities of the lawmakers-elect in alphabetical order. He is expected to thereafter preside over the election of Presiding Officers (President of the Senate/Deputy, Speaker/Deputy as it applies) on the floor of the legislature.

Following the election and declaration of the winners (as the case may be), the Presiding Officers and every lawmaker-elect are expected to subscribe to the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Membership as prescribed in the Constitution before the Clerk to the National Assembly.


READ ALSO: Parliament Special: Nigeria’s 10th National Assembly and the ghost of 2015


Who is Sani Tambuwal?

An astute administrator, budget and financial controller, Tambawal’s journey to becoming Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA) began in 1992 following his transfer of service as a Budget Officer II from the Sokoto State House of Assembly to the National Assembly.

He would thereafter rise to become a Director, Budget in 2017 in the National Assembly management before he was appointed Permanent Secretary (Finance and Accounts) for the National Assembly in 2020. In what would turn out to be a smile of fortune on him, Tambuwal believed to be 6th in line behind five others, was appointed CNA by the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) in an acting capacity.

Before the announcement of the Accountant in November 2022 as Acting CNA, speculation and controversy had trailed the selection process to usher in a new principal administrator of the federal parliament. As it has been observed in recent years, the period leading up to the replacement of an outgoing CNA is usually characterised by drama, intrigues and power struggles. And so, it wasn’t any surprise that power play engulfed the bureaucracy of the National Assembly ahead of the exit from service of Ojo Olatunde Amos; the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly drew closer.

Some individuals and groups who criticised the NASC’s choice of Tambuwal as CNA drummed up claims that Tambuwal is not a core legislative staff. In his defence, those in support of his appointment argued that a few others who have performed well in that role were not core legislative staff— listing Salisu Maikasuwa, Ojo Olatunde and Adamu Fika, who moved from a core ministry in 1991 to play vital roles in setting up the 3rd Republic, as worthy examples.

Having triumphed in the end and gotten a substantive appointment three months later, he will be making a date with destiny this Tuesday as he is umpire for the keenly-anticipated contest for leadership of Nigeria’s bicameral federal parliament. One clear expectation about the CNA as he prepares to play this historic role however, is that he has understudied the affairs of the National Assembly to his fingertips.


READ ALSO: Parliament Meme: Election for President of the Nigerian Senate (Part 1)



Read more on Sani Magaji Tambuwal’s profile below:

Statistician 1 (1990)

Ministry of Finance, Budget and Economic Department
Fellow Certified National Accountant (FCNA) General Certificate of Education (1983)
Govt Science Secondary School, Birnin-Kebbi
National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos, Nigeria (2005)
Budget Officer II (1992)
Sokoto State House of Assembly
Member, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) Bachelor of Science (Hons), Mathematics (1989)
Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto 
Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA (2006, 2009 and 2011)
Director, Budget (2017)
National Assembly
Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered), NIM
Postgraduate Diploma, Management (1996)
Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto
International Law Institute, Washington DC, USA (2012)
Permanent Secretary (Finance and Accounts), 2020
National Assembly
Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria (ICEN)
Master of Business Administration, MBA (2001)
Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto
Crown Agents, Sutton, London, UK (2016), RIPA International London, UK (2014)



  • Budget Preparation and Implementation: An Assessment of the Problems Associated with Budgeting in National Assembly (PGD, Management), Research Project (1995) 
  • Budgeting and the Legislature: A Case Study of Nigerian National Assembly, Masters in Business Administration (MBA, Dissertation 2001).

READ ALSO: Parliament Meme: Election for President of the Nigerian Senate [Part II]

Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq

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