Senate extends retirement age of Assembly workers to 65

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Abuja, Feb. 29, 2024 – The Senate on Thursday passed a Bill seeking to add five years to the retirement age of workers in the National Assembly.

With the passage of the Bill and if signed into law,  workers in the National Assembly will now retire at the age 65 years instead of 60 years and 40 years in service instead of 35 years.

The Bill 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,” was transmitted to the Senate from the House of Representatives for concurrence last week.

It was, however, stepped down by the Senate for deliberations last week, but was re-introduced on Thursday by Opeyemi Bamidele, the Senate Leader.

Bamidele said the needed consultations had been done and the Bill was now fit for passage.

Already, there have been issues even among the workers in the National Assembly on the proposed bill.

The workers’ union, under the aegis of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), said it endorsed the passage of the Bill by the Senate.

According to a statement issued by Sunday Sabiyi, the Chairman of the union, the union had already appealed to the Senate to give its concurrence to the House on the bill.

The union denied reports making the round that it was opposed to the bill sent to the Senate by the House, adding that at its congress to deliberate on the bill, its members unanimously endorsed the plan.

He said that when the 8th National Assembly approved the National Assembly Service Staff Regulations 2019, extending the retirement age for National Assembly Service staff to 65 years of age or 40 years of service, whichever comes first, the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria perceived this regulation as conflicting with the Pension Reform Act of 2014 and the Public Service Rules.

According to him, they rejected the regulation, asserting that any extension of service should only be enacted through the passage of a bill into law.

He said that upon the constitution and subsequent inauguration of the National Assembly Service Commission in 2020, the union registered an official protest to the Commission against the said Condition of Service.

“After several consultations with the leadership of the 9th National Assembly, the Commission met and issued a reverse Condition of Service effective 17th July 2020 which repealed the extension of the years of service.

“The Harmonised Retirement Age for Staff of Legislative Houses in Nigeria Bill was later introduced by the 9th Houses of Representatives, but was not passed due to concerns raised by Members on the powers of the National Assembly to legislate for the Houses of Assembly and Local Government legislative Houses.

“Accordingly, Mutatis Mutandis, the 10th House of Representatives introduced the Harmonised Retirement Age for Staff of National Assembly Service in Nigeria Bill, 2023 which was overwhelmingly supported by the entire Members of the House of Representatives, passed and transmitted to the Senate for concurrence.

“The Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, being the Labour Union under the highest law-making organ in democratic governance convened its congress, deliberated on the Bill, voted and passed a resolution in support of the Bill as passed by the House of Representatives without a single descending voice from any member.

“The Union noted with utter dismay the undemocratic actions of some Staff who went around and misled Senators that the majority of staff were not in support of the Bill when the piece of legislation was slated for consideration in the Senate.

“For clarity, the Congress resolution was presented to the Leadership of the Senate and all Distinguished Senators for their information and guidance.

“Therefore, we respectfully urge the Leadership of the Senate and all Distinguished Senators to please disregard the false claims and pass the Bill as there is a dearth of qualified staff in the Legislative Arm of Government due to the interruption of democracy in Nigeria, the Legislature which has always been the victim has been affected by instability in the career progression of its staff.

“The few trained officers are also caught up with the Public Service Rules, thereby creating a vacuum and shortage of qualified manpower in the Legislative Service. Hence, a need to increase the retirement age as proposed in the Bill to fill the vacuum and maximize the knowledge and experience acquired by the few staff and build the capacity of the young staff of the National Assembly Service in Nigeria

“Considering the importance of Legislative Service as a specialized Service globally, the passage of the Bill into Law will strengthen the legislature and bring it in conformity with international best practices as an Arm of government.”  (GBN)

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