Again, Senate rejects controversial 65-yr retirement age bill for N/Assembly workers 

Sharon EboesomiFebruary 22, 20247 min

The majority of Senators heavily opposed the bill, arguing that it would stop the career progression of junior staff and halt the employment of young Nigerians.

Again, Senate rejects controversial 65-yr retirement age bill for N/Assembly workers 
The Senate has stepped down a controversial bill seeking to extend the retirement age for civil servants in Parliament and across the 36 State Houses of Assembly. 

The bill, if scaled through, would extend the service years of over 200 workers who are due to retire between 2024 and 2026, of which the current Clerk, Sani Tambuwal, would have been the first beneficiary.

The proposed legislation is titled: “A Bill for an Act to Make Provisions for the Retirement Age of Staff of National Assembly Service and for Other Related Matters, 2024.”

OrderPaper recalls that the Senate was thrown into a rowdy session last week following plans to give concurrence to the controversial bill.

The bill which seeks to increase the retirement age from 60 years to 65 years and from 35 to 40 years of service was later stepped down with Senate President Godswill Akpabio saying there was a need for further consultations.

Also recall that the controversial bill during the 8th and 9th Assemblies suffered setbacks after various stakeholders opposed it, arguing that the extension of the retirement age from 60 to 65 years and 35 service years to 40 years would create redundancy and stagnancy among the workers.

READ ALSO: Senate steps down Bill to extend N/Assembly staff retirement age to 65yrs

Again, the bill was brought up during today’s (Thursday) plenary, presented by the Leader of the Senate, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele.

In his lead debate, Bamidele noted that the bill seeks to make provisions for the harmonised retirement age for legislative officers of the National Assembly 

He said, “Considering the importance of the legislative service, the passage of the bill into law, will strengthen the legislature as an arm of government.

“This bill is geared towards making provisions for the retirement age of legislative officers who as staff of the National Assembly. The provision does not include the following; Drivers, porters, cleaners, security guards, messengers, typists, craftsmen, mechanics, clerical officers, gardeners, stewards and or cooks,” he added.

Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (APGA, Abia South) heavily opposed the bill arguing that the staff of the National Assembly, who were employed by the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), are different from staff in other agencies of government.

According to him, it will stop the career progression of junior staff and halt the employment of young Nigerians who intend to work in the parliament.

“Let me put on record that I am opposed to this extension. I have looked at the reasons given by the Senate leader on why we should extend. The first one is that there is no harmonised retirement for teachers. Teachers are the bedrock of raising the society and the development of the country.

“Secondly, coming down to the officers of the National Assembly, I ask a simple question. The person in the Ministry of Finance who is a director, does he not have specialised knowledge of Finance. Would we say that it is so different from the person who is in the finance sector inside this place and when you now say that one person here has knowledge but every Director and clerk has a deputy and each and every one of them are trying to go up when they retire. When they go up, other people are now employed.

“The third one, what will the Nigerian public say of us, that because we have people in there who work inside there as our staff, then we want to make them very different from the staff in the public service of Nigeria.

“I think that if we say that, people who have knowledge have to stay, then why don’t we pass a harmonised bill for everybody in this country? Why should it be special here?

“I do not see what separates the person here “a staff of the National Assembly” from the person who works in the Ministry of Commerce as a staff. Mr President, I do not support the extension.”

Also, Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South), representing Borno South, warned that posterity would not be fair to the lawmakers if the interest of a few individuals packaged in the bill was sustained by the Senate.

If you put this on a secret ballot with the staff here, you’ll be surprised what will happen. If we are here, we should really be Senators. I’m not opposing or supporting but I’m cautioning us. Let us step it down and do more consultation on this matter before we take a decision.”

In the same vein, Senator Muntari Danduste (APC, Katsina South) opposed the bill and asked the Senate President to throw it out for want of merit.

He said the bill was laced with the interest of some personalities and the upper legislative should not be used to legitimise it.

There are millions of unemployed youths looking for jobs. We can’t keep people in the system while others are looking for jobs. Some people in civil service fraudulently reduce their age to remain in service beyond the statutory retirement age. We don’t need to further extend it,” he said.

I am opposing the bill because it seems to carry the interest of some powerful element and we should not be used to legitimise it.”

Only senators Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (Ekiti) and Suleiman Kawu Sumaila (Kano) spoke in support of the bill. 

Subsequently, the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, declared the bill controversial and advised to step it down indefinitely.

He therefore put the bill to a voice vote and a majority of senators rejected it.

Sharon Eboesomi

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