There is an uneasy calm at the National Assembly over the implementation of the revised “Condition of Service” for its staff and the staff of Houses of Assembly in the states.
The controversy stemmed from an alleged ploy by the Clerk of the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani Omolori, and other senior officials to use the provision of the revised condition of service to extend their tenure.
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Our correspondents report that the situation has created tension as groups exchanged claims and counterclaims over the matter. It has also created factions in the National Assembly bureaucracy and staff.
While some groups called for the full implementation of the revised condition of service, others opposed it, calling for the retirement of the clerk and about 150 other staff that are due for retirement.
Those opposed to the implementation of the “Revised Condition of Service” argued that it was amended at the tail end of the Eight National Assembly through a bill titled: “Retirement Age and Conditions of Service”, allegedly “smuggled” in by the last leadership.
Findings revealed that the amended document proposed that the retirement year of service for civil servants in the National Assembly be moved from 35 to 40, while the retirement age from 60 to 65.
The newly-inaugurated National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) had set up a committee to re-examine the implementation of the “Harmonised Retirement Age of the Staff of the National Assembly Service”.
The panel reportedly recommended the removal of the five-year tenure elongation for the bureaucrats of the National Assembly.
If the recommendations of the committee are implemented, the clerk who had spent 35 years in service in February may be forced to proceed on compulsory leave in preparation for retirement.
The Chairmen of the National Assembly and NASC chapters of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), Sunday Sabiyi and Ojemeri Oisamaye, had in a letter addressed to the Chairman of NASC, Ahmed Amshi, urged him to invoke the powers of the commission.
The letter reads in part: “We strongly implore the commission to invoke its powers in line with Sections 6(8), 7(1)(b) and 19, as well as other relevant sections of the NASC Act, 2014, to holistically review the conditions of service and streamline the irregularities found therein.”
A group, “Next Level Due Process Group”, had urged the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi, to stop the implementation of the new conditions of service.
Allegation of clandestine plots against the revision
In a reaction, staff of the National Assembly and its affiliated agencies under the aegis of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), raised alarm over an alleged clandestine plot to truncate the revised and adopted conditions of service being enjoyed by its members.
PASAN National President, Comrade Muhammed Usman, in a statement, disclosed that the new conditions of service was their initiative muted through the National Assembly Service Commission.
He said the proposal was later presented to the Eight National Assembly and was gazetted after it passed through the required due process.
Lending its voice to the matter, the Concerned Staff of the National Assembly and Houses of Assembly insisted that implementation of the revised conditions of service enacted in the twilight of the Eight National Assembly should not be stopped.
The association, in a letter jointly signed by Comrades Salisu Functua, Akindele Adesanya, Aguawike Ebele, national president, national secretary and national publicity secretary respectively, warned that halting implementation of the revised conditions of service would trigger industrial disharmony.
Reacting, the Director of Information, National Assembly, Rawlings Emmanuel, said the amendment of the service rule was not a bill and did not need a presidential assent to be implemented.
According to him, “The rules applicable to civil servants do not apply to National Assembly staff, because the parliament is an independent arm of government.”