The way and manner Nigerian public officers/civil servants perpetrate and promote the sit-tight syndrome among themselves with reckless abandon, despite attaining the duly retirement age as stipulated in our various laws and regulations, is mind-boggling.
Over the years, the government has fixed the retirement age in such a way that career progression is guaranteed and assured in the system.
Chapter 2, page 23 of the officially gazetted Federal Government Public Service Rules, specifically Rule 020810 (i) provides that: “The compulsory retirement age for all grades in the Service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.”
The same rule under (ii) states that: “No officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.”
The only exception to the rule above is captured in (iii), which stipulates that: “The provision is without prejudice to prevailing requirements for judicial officers and academic staff of universities who retire at 70 and 65 years respectively.”
In other words, the requirement for retirement put at 60 years of age of 35 years of service, whichever comes first, applies to all categories of public servants/civil servants, with the exception of judicial officers and universities’ lecturers.
In 2009, the then Head of Service of the Federation (HoS), Mr Stephen Oronsaye, reechoed the rule in a circular entitled ‘Interpretation of Public Service Rules on Compulsory Retirement Age/Year of Service in Relation to Tenure Appointments of Serving Public Officers.’
Oronsaye’s circular was necessitated by apparent disregard to the Public Service Rules at the time.
In the circular, dated 27 July, 2009, the then HoS said: “The attention of the Federal Government has been drawn to the need to ensure correct interpretation of the Public Service Rules on compulsory age/year of service in relation to tenured appointments of career public officers who sevre as Executive Directors or Director General and Chief Executives of Parastatals Agencies and Government owned Companies.
“For the avoidance of doubt and in order to maintain discipline and integrity of the Public Service, extant Public Service Rule which prescribes 60 years of age or 35 years of service for mandatory retirement should strictly be complied with. Accordingly, the following guidelines shall apply:
- That career officers who wish to take up tenured appointments should, at the point of taking up the appointment, retire from service to ensure they run their term uninterrupted.
- That career officers who have not retired or chosen not to retire from service, before the commencement of their tenured appointment, must leave office on attainment of the mandatory age/years of service for retirement.
- That career officers who are currently holding tenured appointments are required to retire from the service with immediate effect and continue to run their term. Failure to do so would mean that they would vacate office on attaining the mandatory retirement age or at the expiration of their term, whichever comes first.”
Oronsaye concluded in his circular that: “The contents of this Circular should be brought to the notice of all concerned for strict compliance and uniform application in all Federal Parastatals and Agencies.”
Over a decade down the line after Oronsaye’s circular, which still subsists, and notwithstanding the provisions of the Public Service Rules, the flagrant disregard to the requirement for retirement age or years of service appears to be the order of the day to date.
Only recently, the immediate past Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Mohammed Sani Omolori, was in the news for making futile attempt to extend his years of service, and by extension, that of about 150 other staff in the Legislature, without following the appropriate channel, which would have been to amend the National Assembly Service Act to achieve that.
Unfortunately, that was not done, and instead, a resolution passed by the 8th Assembly to that effect was relied on. However, a law was needed to achieve that.
Omolori’s case became so pronounced that it turned to a tug-of-war between him and the leadership of the newly constituted National Assembly Service Commission under Engr. Ahmed Kadi Amshi as chairman. Despite the flexing of muscles, Omolori had to give way in the end.
Also, last year, there were reports that the former Director General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS), Prof. Ladi Hamalai, who had served her two terms in the organization wanted to stay back, using the instrumentality of the law, but she did not succeed as forces against her ensured that she was kicked out.
Hamalai left the agency angrily that there was no formal handing over between her and her successor, Prof. Abubakar Sulaiman.
There are several cases of public officials sitting tight in their offices despite attaining the mandatory retirement age or years of service.
For example, there is currently a head of a paramilitary agency in the country, who should have retired since November last year, but he has been in office ever since and nothing has happened to him.
His continued stay in office has negatively affected the morale of his personnel, who view him as someone that wants to personalize the agency to become his personal property.
The implication of this is that the agency will suffer from lackadaisical attitude of workers who will remain stagnant due to the continuous stay of the Chief Executive. This should not be allowed to continue as the man has already stayed for almost a year collecting illegal salaries and wages from government coffers. In fact, he should be made to refund all monies collected from government within the period.
It appears that such individuals are emboldened by the nonchalant attitude of the current administration toward such issues, hence they get away with such untoward practices.
The sooner those in authorities woke up from their slumber to put a stop to this unwholesome practices and brigandage, the better. If not, we would all have ourselves to blame sooner than later.
– Audu wrote this piece from Abuja