Controversy over the revised condition of service for National Assembly staff was yesterday put to rest as the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) declared that staff who had already at-tained the retirement age of 60 years or spent 35 years in service would receive their retirement letters soon.
By this declaration, the clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori, sec-retary to the commission, Mr Olusanya Ajakaiye, and about 150 others have been retired from ser-vice.
But reacting to the development, Omoloiri, who was forced to retire, dared the leadership of the National Assembly Service Commission, saying those affected by the announcement should con-tinue with their normal duty.
A press statement dated July 15, 2020, signed by the executive chairman of the Commission, Engr Ahmed Kadi Amshi, indicated that the commission at its 497th meeting pegged the retirement age for the staff of the National Assembly Service at 35 years of Service or 60 years of age, whichever comes first.
The statement reads: “Pursuant to its mandate as provided in the National Assembly Service Commission Act 2014 (as amended), the National Assembly Service Commission at its 497th meet-ing held on Wednesday 15th July 2020 has approved the retirement age for the staff of the Na-tional Assembly Service at 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.”
The revised condition of service became a subject of controversy after the 8th National Assembly had raised the retirement age from 60 to 65 years or 35 to 40 years in service for its staff.
To this effect, Omolori and others who ought to have retired remained in the service.
Omolori, having joined the public service in 1985, was supposed to have retired in February, 2020. The now retired clerk joined Ajaokuta Steel Company as a legal officer in 1985, but transferred his service to the National Assembly in February 1991 as a Principal Legal Officer on GL 12, from the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA).
His tenure was later extended in 2019 following the controversial review by the leadership of the 8th National Assembly.
However, the review was greeted by controversy as the commission described the amendment as unconstitutional on the ground that President Muhammadu Buhari had not assented to the amendment Bill.
Attempts by LEADERSHIP to get Sani-Omolori’s reaction proved abortive as his media aide, Andrew Oota, declined comment.
However, in a counter statement, the former Clerk office told the affected staff to ignore the di-rective of the commission and go on with their normal duty, saying the decision contravenes the extant service regulations as duly passed by the 8th Assembly.
Omolori explained that the resolution of the 8th Assembly on conditions of service still subsists; hence, NASC has no power to set aside the revised conditions for service.
He said, “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”.
Senate Seeks Age Review For Job Seekers
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday called on the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to direct the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to set up a committee to review the age limit for job seekers in the country.
The move is to avail competent applicants employment opportunities by the ministries, depart-ments and agencies (MDAs) of government without age barrier.
The Senator representing Sokoto East, Ibrahim Gobir, in a motion at plenary yesterday, noted that recruitment requirements of MDAs and other private bodies which set age barriers “inadvertently excludes and marginalises skillful and competent prospective applicants from participating in such exercises.”
According to the lawmaker, “due to the high unemployment rate in the country, many graduates spend up to 10 years seeking employment and this puts them in a disadvantaged position by no fault of theirs.”
In his contribution, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi South), drew the attention of the Senate to the federal government’s embargo on employment over thirteen years ago.
According to him, the embargo period m“The period that there has been an embargo by the fed-eral government in itself should be considered in the review of the age limit.
“For example, if the age limit is 23, we must now add the 13 or 14 years of embargo on employ-ment to the age already earmarked for employment, so that the age will be plus thirteen, because it is the government on its own that placed the embargo on employment.
“There cannot be justification for you to place embargo on employment, then at the same time expect graduates to remain at the age they were during the period of the embargo. “I think in the review, that has to be taken into account, and therefore, the age limit can now be raised in addi-tion to the established age. That should be the legal verdict for the review”.
For his part, the Senate president, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, bemoaned the discrimination against job seekers as a result of the barrier imposed by the prescribed age limit. He said, “It is not through a fault of theirs that people are discriminated against. They’ll tell you only the 30 years limit, mean-while someone graduated ten years ago.
“This is a very good motion urging the Ministry of Labour and Productivity to swing into action im-mediately,” Lawan said.