Heavy Crisis brewing in National Assembly over Tenure Elongation Plot

National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

In a brewing controversy within the National Assembly, administrative staff members are reportedly devising strategies to oppose legislative backing for extending the retirement age of its outgoing Clerk and over 200 senior staff by an additional 5 years beyond the existing service scheme’s provisions.

The genesis of the conflict stemmed from recent revelations that the Senate is considering a bill to extend the retirement age of civil servants in the nation’s Parliament and State Houses of Assembly.

This move has sparked discontent among staff anticipating senior positions soon to become vacant.

The proposed bill seeks to extend the retirement age of National Assembly Staff from 60 to 65 years and from 35 to 40 years of service, whichever comes first. Notably, if the bill is passed, the current Clerk to the National Assembly, Sani Tambawal Magaji, could remain in office until the age of 65.

However, this initiative has faced staunch opposition from parliamentary staff and the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), chaired by Bature Musa. The union contends that such an extension would contradict established rules and regulations governing the Public Service, where retirement is set at 60 years of age or 35 years of service.

The union also argues that passing the bill would hinder career progression for its members, primarily serving the interests of management staff. Moreover, they assert that it would contravene the Federal Government’s policies on youth development and empowerment, potentially depriving unemployed youths of job opportunities.

In response to the proposed bill, the PASAN has vehemently rejected it, urging the National Assembly management to focus on implementing existing welfare packages for staff. The union has also threatened industrial action if the legislators proceed with the bill.

While some members of the Assembly management deny the Clark’s involvement in the proposed legislation, others argue that it aims to preserve institutional memory and provide experienced staff an opportunity to continue serving.

Several attempts had been made by the two Chambers of the National Assembly to extend the retirement age of parliamentary staff of the National Assembly since 2017.

The Union argued that the controversial Bill if passed, will bring stagnation on the career progression of her members, thus would serve only the interest of the management staff, especially those who are due for retirement from service.

It averred that the passage of the Bill will contravene the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and would run contrary to the Federal Government‘s policy on youth development and empowerment.

The Union advanced its argument by illustrating that perpetuating persons who have served the nation for 35 years or attained 60 years of age will not make room for employment of Nigerian youths some of whom graduated for more that 10 years without gainful employment.

Consequently, the Union in a letter addressed to the President of the Senate and the Rt. Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives denounced the Bill and threatened industrial action should the legislators go ahead to pass the Bill.

It said the Union’s position led the two Chambers to discontinue action on the Bill which was respectively sponsored by Sunday Akon in the House and Senator Stella Odua in the Senate during 9th Assembly.

Presently, the Management led by the current Clerk to the National Assembly, Magaji Sani Tambawal is pushing for it again.

The Bill has passed in the House of Representatives and presently before the Senate for concurrence. The Senate after taking the first reading of the Bill some weeks ago reversed itself and listed it for concurrence on Wednesday 14, February, 2024.

Despite the controversy, the fate of the bill remains uncertain as it awaits the Senate’s concurrence. Staff members opposing the bill have called on the Senate to reject it, emphasizing the pressing need to address youth unemployment and implement workers’ welfare measures.