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Prince Afeez Kilani and NASSLAF’s search for ‘Primus inter pares’ Chairmanship [Feature]



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In parliamentary setting, the world over, Legislative Aides have always play critical roles in strengthening democracy as they serve as researchers and knowledge basins for their principals and lawmakers in the upper and lower legislative Chambers of the State and National Assembly.

Like their principals who emerge through elections, legislative aides have over time demonstrated democratic norms that their executive officers emerge through elections conducted in-house by members of the forum.
The National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum, NASSLAF is set to conduct another election, the first since the 10th National Assembly which came into being on June 9, 2023 with virtually few members indicating interest to contest for chairmanship of the forum.

Unarguably, the time has changed for the Legislative Aides Forum of the 10th National Assembly and this time, the forum is searching for ‘primus inter pares’, the best among equals to serve as Chairman, given the indicators that the NASS management, Legislators in the upper and lower Chambers and their aides could harmoniously work to get the best out of the system.

Among those indicating interest to contest for the office of NASSLAF is Prince Barrister Afeez Kilani, who is popularly known as “Alhaji Prince Afeez Kilani” among his folks in the National Assembly. The Shaki born trained lawyer has been an aide to the ranking Senator Abdulfatai Buhari representing Oyo West Senatorial District. For nine years, Afeez Kilani served his principal, he has contributed in no small measure to the success of the lawmaker that has made him win elections on three consecutive times, a record no has broken in elections to the upper legislative chamber in Oyo State.

Kilani is not just naturally calm, mien, introvert and a man who is given to details on his job, but he cares and listens to concerns of not only constituents of his principal, but anyone who comes around the office to see his principal.
This is no wonder a member of the Legislative Aides Forum, from the North West, but who did not want his name disclosed told CAPITAL POST penultimate week, saying: “We have been in the National Assembly for nine years, some have spent times more than that, while some have less time they spent, but I honestly want that young man, Prince Afeez Kilani from Oyo State to emerge as our Chairman in the forthcoming election of NASSLAFF.”

“NASSLAF is about welfare of members and we have seen in times past where Kilani has used his personal resources to assist the forum to get issues sorted out and has canvassed for welfare even when he wasn’t a an exco member.”

According to him, he was excited when Kilani indicated interest to contest election for the office of NASSLAF chairmanship.
A member of the forum who disclosed his name as Abdulhamid was of the opinion that the Chairmanship of NASSLAF should be released for the South Westerners, insisting that rotational leadership would ensure cohesion, adding that whoever was considered fit and competent and has the approval the zone, should be voted.

According to him, he didn’t know much of Prince Afeez Kilani as he was less than a year in the National Assembly serving as a Senior Legislative Aide to a member in the House of Representatives, adding that some of them would be guided when the election comes.
He said, he got to know Afeez on the day he declared his interest, saying: “I could see quality of leadership in him in the way he was reaching out to some zones and try to reveal the innovation he intended to bring to bear on the NASSLAF.”
Meanwhile, ahead of election, Prince Afeez Kilani was on Monday endorsed for Chairmanship of NASSLAF, even as endorsement turned into testimonies of his leadership quality especially in the parliamentary setting by some members from the six geopolitical zones of the country.

Kilani in speaking with journalists, after his endorsement, said he has adequate experience having rose from Legislative Assistant 2 in 2015 when he came to the National Assembly to Senior Legislative Aide in 2024.

The lawyer vowed to build consensus and bridges between the NASS management and the forum that would bring about ease of transactional leadership that is most needed in the 10th National Assembly NASS-NASSLAFF for the betterment of all.

He has noted: “With that understanding, I am in the best position to pilot the affairs of the National Assembly Legislative aides. If you give me your support, I am going to serve you better.”

He explained that diplomacy in required in the handling of relationships between the Aides and the NASS management, stressing that as a Lawyer, he is well versed in dispute resolution and dialogue approach rather than confrontation in form of strike or protest.
“We are in the 21st century, and as a lawyer there is what is called alternative dispute resolution. In labour law, it is very important that confrontation, protests should be the last thing, should be on the last burner.

‘The first thing is negotiation, good approach to issues, we are in a democratic era. It is when all that fails that we can adopt confrontation which we are not going to even adopt. Prince Kilani said: “I have been here since the year 2015. I got here as a legislative Assistant, that is LA2 and because of the level of dedication my boss promoted me to LA1 in 2019.

“Now I am the SLA to the distinguished Senator Buhari Abdulfatai, he is a third time Senator in the Nigerian senate.

“With this carrier progression, coupled with my experience in the National Assembly, at least I have run through the ranks of the aides of the National Assembly.

“I think I am in the best position to understand the yearnings and the needed welfare of the legislative aides because I have gone through the ranks of the legislative aides.

“We don’t want a situation whereby an aide or a chairman will be elected and he will not understand what other legislative aides are going through.

Kilani graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University where he studied Law and later attended the prestigious Nigerian Law School after which he was called to the Bar.

He hails from Shaki West in Oyo State in the South West Nigeria and has been involved in grassroot politics before he was appointed by his principal.

“I know with my skills as a lawyer for more than 11 years of experience, it is not going to be difficult for me to meet with management to convince them of the reason why they should take care of us.”

Chairman of the Southwest National Assembly Legislative Forum, Ogumawola Ebenezer, said, “As you can see the ovation is loud because we have gone through rigorous screening and Southwest as a leading zone when it comes to affairs of the NASSLAF. We have taken everything into consideration and we decided one voice to queue behind our own Barr. Afeez Kilani as our candidate

“We are tired of recirculation of warn out leaders. We don’t want people that have been circulating themselves since the 5th Assembly.

“You have heard the voice of the aides, the first timers, and the semi first timers and we have decided as the South West zone we have decided to put our own, someone whose door will be opened, who will not stay in the office wanting people to come and meet him.

“He is someone that will go round to know the needs and yearnings of the aides. This is the man we are looking for. This is the reason we are doing to stand by him, He is not for South West but for all the zones.

Olusola Olugbami AKA maintain said they need Somebody that will do what others have not been able to do, you know in the South West, we don’t take the back seat.

“Whenever we said we have resolved to do something that is what we will do. This is our candidate and by the grace of God, he is going to emerge victorious.

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