Fred Itua and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Showdown is looming at the National Assembly over directive to staff who have attained 35 years in service or 60 years of age to proceed on compulsory retirement.
In a letter addressed to the affected staff, including the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori, chairman, National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), Ahmed Kadi Amshi, said the directive was in line with the 2014 amended Act of the Service.
Besides, Sani-Omolori, it was learnt that the directive would affect about 150 other staff.
The letter dated July 15 read: “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 July 15 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.”
There has been a running battle in the National Assembly over the continuous stay in office of Sani-Omolori, despite attaining the compulsory 35 years of service.
The controversy, which started since the ninth Assembly came on board last year, has pitched the leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly against each other.
While Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila is believed to be supporting the continuous stay of Sani-Omolori and over 150 others, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, is opposed to the move.
The crisis has led to series of meetings held with former clerks to the National Assembly invited to offer their own views.
Head of Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan, during her appearance before the Body of Principal Officers of the National Assembly, opposed plans to extend tenures of civil servants.
With the exit of Sani-Omolori, the NASC may be faced with a fresh challenge of appointing a new clerk to the National Assembly.
Daily Sun gathered that some leaders in the Senate are opposed to plans by Lawan to push for the appointment of his loyalist.
Lawan and Gbajabiamila, it was learnt, have resolve to appoint persons from their geopolitical zones of North East and South West respectively for the post.
It was learnt that the current permanent Secretary in charge of Legal Matters for National Assembly, Bala Yabani, has been tipped as the next clerk to the National Assembly. He hails from Yobe, Lawan’s state. Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, Ahmed Amshi, who was Lawan’s Chief of Staff, also hails from Yobe.
Similarly, Olatunji Ojo Amos who is the current Permanent Secretary, Estate and Works/Procurement, is among the two persons reportedly tipped to be the Deputy Clerk to the National Assembly. He hails from Osun, South West, where Gbajabiamila also hails from. It is unclear if the current clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh and clerk of the House of Representatives, Patrick Giwa, who both hail from Edo State, will be elevated or retired.
However, Sani-Omolori has dared NASC. In a statement, he said the retirement age of staff of the National Assembly is 65 years or 40 years of service.
He said the decision of the eighth Assembly on the condition of service for staff has not been altered by the National Assembly.
The statement read: “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.”
Efforts to reach chairman House Committee on Media and Public Affairs for comments was unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report.