Commission, mgt at loggerheads over retirement age
There was palpable tension at the National Assembly yesterday over the decision of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) to retire the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori and 150 others. NASC had, in a statement signed by its Executive Chairman, Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi, ordered Sani-Omolori, secretary of NASC, Mr. Olusanya Ajakaiye, directors and others who had either put in 35 years of service or attained the age of 60 to immediately vacate their various offices in line with the national public service rule. However, hours after the statement was issued, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Sani-Omolori, in a counter directive, urged all the affected staff to ignore the NASC directive.
After months of sustained controversy, the NASC, yesterday, suspended the smuggled revised condition of service, which raised the retirement age to 65 and years of service to 40. The NASC, consequently endorsed the return to status quo: 60 and 35 years respectively and ordered the immediate retirement of all staff who have either attained 60 years of age or put in 35 years in service. This was contained in a press statement signed by the executive chairman of the commission, Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi, made available to the media. According to Amshi, “Pursuant to its mandate as provided in the National Assembly Service Act, 2014 (as amended), the National Assembly Service Commission, at its 497th meeting held on Wednesday, 15th July, 2020, has approved the retirement age of the staff of the National Assembly Service as 35 years of service or 60 years of age, whichever comes first.
“To this effect, the commission has approved the immediate retirement of staff of the National Assembly Service who have already attained the retirement age of 35 years of service or 60 years of age. “Retirement letters would be issued to the affected staff accordingly.” Meanwhile, Sani-Omolori hinged his counter directive on the fact that service year for staff of National Assembly, had been extended to 40 years and retirement 65 years, saying that this was approved and adopted during the 8th Senate.
Omolori, in the counter statement titled: “Retirement Age for Staff of the National Assembly is 40 years of service or 65 years of Age of retirement”, reads: “The attention of the National Assembly Management has been drawn to a press release dated 15th July, 2020 signed by the Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, informing the general public that the commission has approved the retirement age of staff of the National Assembly as 35 years of service or 60 years of age whichever comes first.
“The Management of the National Assembly wishes to inform all staff and the general public that the extant regulation as contained in our Revised Conditions of Service duly passed by both Chambers of the 8th National Assembly puts the retirement age of staff at 40 years of service and 65 years of age whichever comes first. “The Resolution of the 8th National Assembly on the Conditions of Service of Staff has not been rescinded nor abdicated by the National Assembly, who under the authentic National Assembly Service Act 2014 as passed is empowered to review any proposed amendment to the Conditions of Service by the Commission. “Therefore, the National Assembly Service Commission does not have the powers to set aside the Revised Conditions of Service as passed by the 8th National Assembly. “The Management had maintained a studied silence in deference to the leadership of the 9th National Assembly who is looking into the position being canvassed by the Commission.
“It is, therefore, intriguing that the National Assembly Service Commission has unilaterally gone ahead to take a decision. “Management urges all staff to disregard the press release by the Commission and go about their lawful duties.” With the conflicting directives, many staff of the National Assembly, were visibly worried as they were seen in little groups discussing in hushed tones on which of the directives would stand in days to come.
The controversial condition of service, which raised the retirement age of staff from 60 to 65 and working years from 35 to 40, was fraudulently passed at the twilight of the 8th Assembly and its implementation effected without the assent of the president. Before taking the decision, the commission had consulted with the National Assembly leadership as well as the Head of Service of the Federation and other retired clerks of the National Assembly. The HoS, Mrs. Folasade Yemi-Esan had, in her memo to the Commission, described the controversial revised condition of service as unconstitutional and advised the commission to suspend it immediately. Also, a former clerk to the National Assembly, Dr. Adamu Fika, had advised the commission to jettison the condition of service and return to status quo.