By Taiye Agbaje
A legal firm, Alpha and Rohi, has called for the extension of retirement age of the clerk to the National Assembly (NASS).
The legal body also sought an extension of service year and retirement age of staff members of the National Assembly and National Assembly Service Commission.
Mr Adeola Adedipe, Managing Partner in the legal office delivered the position paper of the group at the Zonal Public Hearing on the Proposed Alteration to the Provisions of the 1999 Constitution held in Enugu.
The group’s position was also pushed at Akure, Kaduna, Port Hacourt, Minna and Bauchi centres of the 2-day public hearing.
The lawyer, who sought that the service year of the clerk and staff members should be reviewed upward to 40 or 45 years, said their retirement age should be put at 65 or 70 years.
It would be recalled that the current years in service of the clerk and staff members is 35 while the retirement age is 60.
Adedipe noted that 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.
“As such, staff members that have gradually acquired the requisite skills and competence should be nurtured and retained in order to optimise the investment by government in them (as long as they are capable and productive).
“This, of course, is contrary to the current culture of discarding our experts at the very age when their skills and often labouriously acquired competence ought to be recognised as asset, exploited and deployed for the benefit of the country,” he said.
He argued that government should not reasonably trade off competence on the excuse that it needs to create jobs.
Adedipe, who alluded to the recent upward adjustment of retirement age for university professors, polytechnic lecturers and teachers in secondary schools, also gave example of the proposed bill for the harmonisation of the age of retirement of judicial officers which would see the age of retirement of judges of the high court reviewed upward to 70 years from the current 65 years.
The legal practitioner also advocated for the amendment of Section 51 of the Constitution for a harmonious designation of the clerk of the National Assembly as the head of legislative services.
He stressed that Section 51 as contained in the constitution and Section 9 of the National Assembly Service Act should be harmonised to give the desired effect.
According to him, this exercise is in no way new, as it had earlier been pressed for by the 8th Assembly before the effluxion of its tenure.
“It is to be noted that the clerk to the National Assembly, is the chief servant/accountant of the National Assembly, and is the institution’s back bone.
“The office is a lubricant machinery for an efficient administration, with patent and inherent complexities.
“This consideration was already recognised by Section 9 of the NASC Act, but not wholly integrated by the constitution even though, it is the grundnorm.
“This, in part, supports the purpose of a constitutional review along this line, as it is intended to press for a proper designation of the office of the Clerk to the National Assembly, as the Head of the Legislative Service for the Federation,” Adedipe said.
He insisted that amending the constitution in this regard would truly help to reflect the functions embedded in the office.(NAN)