Senators reject service extension for NASS Clerk, others


By Olugbenga Salami

Following the rejection of a bill seeking public service extension for the Clerk to the National Assembly, CNA, Alhaji Sani Tambawal and other officials of the federal parliament by majority of the Senators on Thursday, the Senate was forced to stand down its approval.

The controversial bill was forwarded to the Senate for concurrence by the House of Representatives.

Leader of the Senate, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC Ekiti Central) had in his lead debate on the bill before it ran into trouble, arguing that extension of years of service for the National Assembly staff, and would strengthen the legislature as an arm of government.

He spiritedly submitted that the extension from 35 to 40 years or retirement age from 60 to 65 years, would help to protect institutional memory needed in as far as parliamentary practices and procedures are concerned.

Supporting the bill, Senator Summaila Kawu (NNPP Kano South), submitted that it would help to create a reservoir of knowledge in the administration and federal parliament.

But the former Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (APGA Abia South), kicked against the proposal by warning that it would portray the federal lawmakers as being biased in their judgement on what is good or bad for public servants.

He said: “All the arguments made by the leader for this bill to be concurred to, by the Senate to me, do not add up. What is special about a Director of Finance in the National Assembly from Directors of Finance in the ministries and parastatals?

“The extension of years of service done for the teachers, lecturers and judicial officers through laws passed to that effect by the Senate and the House of Representatives, are understandable but that cannot be in anyway, rationalized for National Assembly staff.

“They are civil servants like those in the ministries and parastatals and should not be treated outside the public service rule. I am against this bill and admonish the Senate to be cautious with the proposal”, he said.

Also kicking against the bill, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), admonished the Senate to be cautious on considering the proposal.

“Mr. President, if a secret ballot is to be conducted among staff of the National Assembly in the chamber with us now on the bill, you will be surprised at the result,” he said.

Senator Ndume called for thorough consultation on the proposed legislation so as to guide the final resolution of the Red Chamber on it.

Also kicking against the bill, Senator Mohammed Muntari Dandutse (APC Katsina South), warned that if approved, it would further worsen the problem of unemployment in the country.

Realizing growing opposition of Senators to the bill, the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio hurriedly interjected the debate by declaring that the bill is controversial and should be stood down, which was accordingly done.