The National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) has announced the appointment of an acting clerk of the National Assembly, signaling the end to the controversies surrounding the tenure of the outgoing clerk, Mohammed Sani-Omolori.
The new acting clerk, Olatunde Ojo, is an architect who hails from Ilobu, headquarters of Irepodun Local Government Area of Osun State.
The commission also announced other positions including the deputy clerk to the National Assembly, clerk of the Senate, clerk of the House of Representatives, deputy clerk of the Senate, deputy clerk of the House of Representatives, secretaries to directorates, among others.
In a statement issued on Friday and signed by its chairman, Ahmed Amshi, the commission said the decision was taken at an emergency meeting held on Friday, July 17.
The statement reads in part; “The National Assembly Service Commission at an emergency meeting held today, Friday, July 17, 2020, has approved the appointments of some senior management staff for the service.”
It noted that the development is pursuant to its mandate as provided in the National Assembly Service Act 2014 (as amended), Section 6 (b), which it quoted as follows; “Appoint persons to hold or act in the offices of; clerk to the National Assembly…”
According to the statement, Mohammed Bala is the new acting deputy clerk to the National Assembly while El-Laden Dauda is the acting clerk to the Senate.
The commission said Patrick Giwa is to remain clerk, House of Representatives “pending his retirement in November, 2020,” while Yusuf Dambata is the new acting secretary to the National Assembly Service Commission.
Controversy over tenure
The commission and the assembly management had for some time locked horns over the tenure of the Mr Sani-Omolori and about 160 other senior civil servants working at the national assembly.
Mr Amshi had on Wednesday directed that those who had attained the age of 60 or 35 years in service should proceed on compulsory retirement.
Mr Sani-Omolori has spent 35 years in service but seeks to continue in office, relying on a controversial National Assembly Revised Condition of Service which reportedly took effect in 2019.
Based on the controversially amended conditions, the clerk and no fewer than 160 officers, who were to have retired from office, were expected to remain in office for about five more years, after the retirement age was raised from 60 to 65 years and years of service from 35 to 40.
But in a bid to intervene, Mr Amshi-led commission ignored the amendment by the two chambers of the National Assembly in 2018 and asked all those affected to proceed on compulsory retirement.
“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 15th July 2020 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.
“To this effect the commission has approved the immediate retirement of staff of the National Assembly Service who have already attained the retirement age of 35 years of service or 60 years of age.
“Retirement letters would be issued to the affected staff accordingly,” he said.
In his immediate reaction to the development, Mr Sani-Omolori, in a statement on Wednesday evening, insisted that the retirement age for the National Assembly remains 40 years of service or 65 years of age.
He said the resolution of the National Assembly which increased the age and years of service has not been amended.
He also said the commission has no powers to intervene in the controversy.
“The attention of the National Assembly Management has been drawn to a press release dated 15th July, 2020 signed by the Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, informing the general public that the commission has approved the retirement age of staff of the National Assembly as 35 years of service or 60 years of age whichever comes first.
READ ALSO: Retirement: National Assembly Service Commission queries Sani-Omolori for ‘gross insubordination‘
“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.”
He said the management “had maintained a studied silence in deference to the leadership of the 9th National Assembly which is looking into the position being canvassed by the commission but finds it intriguing that the National Assembly Service Commission has unilaterally gone ahead to take a decision.”
He urged all staff to disregard the press release by the commission and go about their lawful duties.
Meanwhile, in its reaction to Mr Sani-Omolori’s press statement condemning the commission’s action, the NASC’s leadership issued a query to the embattled clerk over his failure to proceed on retirement.
Sani Omolori [PHOTO CREDIT: Economic Confidential]
The query dated July 16, was signed by Mr Amshi.
The commission had on Wednesday directed that those who had attained the age of 60 or 35 years in service should proceed on compulsory retirement.
In the query, Mr Amshi faulted the clerk’s statement describing it as gross insubordination. Mr Sani-Omolori was also given 24 hours to respond to the query.
“As you are very much aware, the Clerk to the National Assembly is an employee of the National Assembly Service Commission, vide Section 6(1) b of the National Assembly Service Act, 2014 (As amended).
“The Clerk to the National Assembly has no authority whatsoever to dictate anything to the Commission. Your press release is considered by the Commission as a gross insubordination to a constituted authority.
“You are, by this letter requested to explain to the Commission within twenty four (24) hours as to why disciplinary action will not be taken against you as per the provision of Section 6(2)b of the National Assembly Service Act, 2014 (As Amended) for this gross insubordination,” part of the statement read.
Sani-Omolori keeps mute
It is unclear as of the time of filing this report if Mr Sani-Omolori has agreed to abide by the commission’s directive.
PREMIUM TIMES’ efforts to get his reaction were unsuccessful as our reporter’s call to the mobile telephone of the spokesperson to the office of the clerk, Yahaya Dan-Zaria, was rejected.
He, however, replied with a message that reads, “Can’t pick call now.”
A short message sent to Mr. Dan-Zaria’s mobile line, afterwards, was yet to be replied at the time of this report.