Chuks Okocha in Abuja
There’s a simmering crisis in the administrative wing of the National Assembly as legislative workers recently accused the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) of plans to sack the Clerk, Sani Omolori and 150 other management staff over the revised condition of services approved by the Eighth National Assembly.
The concerned staffers hinted at this development in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senator Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila-led leadership of the National Assembly as well as heads of security agencies, jointly signed by Messrs Salisu Functua, National President; Akindele Adesanya Secretary General, and the National Publicity Secretary Aguawike Ebele
Their grouse was that the Senator Abubakar Tutari NASC investigative committee that probed the revised condition of services within the National Assembly reached a decision without hearing from them as stakeholders, and resolved to implement a recommendation to sack the Clerk of National Assembly and 150 other management staff.
According to the petition, the workers said, “We are however worried by the existence of a nexus and coordination between procured actors from outside the legislature and a committee setup by the National Assembly Service Commission to review the Revised Conditions of Service.”
They said the plot was all about stopping the implementation of the amended National Assembly Conditions of Service that dwelt with the welfare of staff.
They accused the NASC investigative committee of contriving a petition from an unknown group and reaching a decision without hearing from the association of the National Assembly workers.
The workers noted that they would have dismissed the sponsored reports, because they are a vile propaganda designed to discredit the system and initiate a power grab and bazaar operation in the National Assembly, however, records needed to be put straight.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 19 (1) and 6(a) of the NASC Act 2014, empower the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) to set rules and regulations, including fixing of salary, promotion, conditions of service, issues of discipline, tenure and/or operational guidelines for the conduct of the staff of the National Assembly.”
Thus, in exercising its functions, the workers claimed the service commission must be guided by adequate information pursuant to all-inclusive processes in the overall interest of the National Assembly and the legislature as an institution, more so because the legislature in Nigeria is still evolving and trying to develop its practice and procedures.
“You are aware and conversant with the issue(s) that led to the adoption of the Revised Conditions of Service for the National Assembly by the 8th Session of the National Assembly. In 2018, the staff of the National Assembly under the aegis of the Parliamentary Association of Nigeria (PASAN) agitated for a new condition of service against the backdrop of unsatisfactory remunerations as obtained in other developed and developing legislatures across the globe.
“The protests led to the shutdown of the National Assembly for one week. To break the dead lock, the Management of the National Assembly, the leadership of NASC, the presiding officers of the National Assembly and PASAN signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which gave birth to the Revised Conditions of Service and other related issues.
“The Revised Conditions of Service was not shrouded in “secrecy” as alleged but was a product of a motion ably moved by the then Majority Leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives of the 8th National Assembly. Upon winning the support of members of both chambers, it passed through the necessary processes before it was gazetted.
“Surprisingly, nine months into its implementation, the newly constituted National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) after assumption of office, not minding that the revised conditions of Service was a product of the immediate past Commission, started behaving as if they have been waiting for the opportunity to descend on the staff.
“The Commission was said to have set up a six-member committee headed by former Senator Abubakar Tutari to revisit the Conditions of Service. The commission stated that it set up the committee in response to petitions allegedly received against the Revised Condition of Service,” the workers explained.
Continuing, the workers said, “The committee requested that the National Assembly Management furnishes it with votes and proceedings of the 8th National Assembly to show the process that led to the vote in support of the Revised Conditions of Service.
“Your Excellency, it may interest you to know that by 9:00am, Tuesday, 19th May, 2020 when the Management of the National Assembly took the said proceedings to the Commission, few days after the request, the report of the committee was ready without the input of the Parliamentary Association of Nigeria (PASAN), the leadership of the National Assembly, the Management of the National Assembly and other key stakeholders.
“The Committee did not think it was necessary to invite stakeholders or even the Staff Union whose initiative it was to have the revised conditions of service to interact with them. They relied on spurious and sponsored petitions and phantom allegations to reach a decision – a decision that will impact negatively on the welfare of over four thousand Staff of the National Assembly.”
Accordingly, the workers said, “The processes thus far as carried out by the Senator Abubakar Tutari Committee will unleash confusion, trigger industrial disharmony within the National Assembly and the state legislatures and set a dangerous precedent if allowed to stand. We have it on good authority that the committee’s work was initiated by powerful vested interests to instigate a leadership change in the Management of the National Assembly.
“These machinations have no place in the new Nigeria and particularly National Assembly, which we believe you are irrevocably committed to. The higher national interest should be uppermost in the minds of leaders at all times,” they stated.