June 14, 2021

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Constitution review: Again group seeks better working conditions for NASS staff

National Assembly complex

National Assembly complex

As zonal public hearings on the constitutional review continues, a group of lawyers have again sought better working conditions for the office of the clerk to the National Assembly (NASS) and staff members.

By Taiye Agbaje

As zonal public hearings on the constitutional review continues, a group of lawyers have again sought better working conditions for the office of the clerk to the National Assembly (NASS) and staff members.

The legal practitioners, under the auspices of Alpha and Rohi, a legal firm, made their presentation at the three-day public hearing of the House Committee on the Review of 1999 Constitution on Thursday.

Some of the lawyers, who made the group’s position known, included Wole Abiola at Akure Centre; Oladimeji Ekengba, Lokoja Centre; Maude Abdulkareem, Kano Centre; Kamal Kabir, Bauchi Centre and Adeola Adedipe at Uyo, Centre, among others.

Delivering the paper, Lawyer Abdulkareem called on the need for harmonious redesignation of the office of the National Assembly clerk as contained in Section 51 of the constitution and Section 9 of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) Act.

He argued that designating the clerk as Head of Legislative Services was one of the right steps towards strengthening the National Assembly and steering it towards its rightful place as a co-equal arm of government.

According to him, it is only apt that the office should rank next to that of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation and Accountant General of the Federation.

Abdulkareem said the clerk “is the chief accountant of the National Assembly and the institution ‘s backbone.

“The office is a lubricant machinery for an efficient administration, with patent and inherent complexities.”

He said although this consideration was already recognised by Section 9 of the NASC Act, it was not wholly integrated by the constitution.

“It is the grundnorm,” he stated.

The Managing Partner of the firm, Mr Adedipe, also clamoured for the upward review of the service year and retirement age of the clerk and the staff members of the National Assembly and National Assembly Service Commission.

The lawyer, who restated that the service year of the clerk and staff members should be put between 40 and 45 years, said their retirement age should be reviewed upward to 65 or 70 years in the new amendment to the constitution.

According to him, the parliamentary support service and legislative management is a specialised field that is developed over time.

“Undoubtedly, training and re-training of staff members over time, is an investment, the benefit of which must be maximised,” he said.(NAN)

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