The imperative of bill on harmonized retirement age of legislative staff in Nigeria - By: . . | Dailytrust

The imperative of bill on harmonized retirement age of legislative staff in Nigeria

When a bill seeking to harmonise the retirement age of staff of legislative houses in Nigeria scaled through first reading in the House of Representatives, on June 29, 2021; it was obvious the stability of the Legislature in Nigeria came into focus.

Following the passage of the bill passed for the second reading, the next stage now is for the stakeholders to make their inputs.

Talking of stakeholders, the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria PASAN (National, Zonal and chapters) and the various State Houses of Assemblies must have to make their much-expected contributions.

It is heartwarming that the PASAN National and chapters are the one spearheading and working round the clock about this bill that will act as a great stabilizing agent for the staff of the legislature all over the federation.

In sponsoring this much-awaited bill, the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguni, has written his name in gold because the legislative arm of government in Nigeria needs absolute stability, to carry out its constitutional duty vibrantly to the electorates in Nigeria.

There is no doubt that the legislature requires strong capacity and robust knowledge to pilot and stabilize its bureaucratic system. 

Strengthening the bureaucracy of the legislative houses in Nigeria lies more in building an institutional memory and developing career progression plans for the staff.

As a mass-based public institution, and the closest to the people, the legislature is undoubtedly the first point of call in the citizen inspired public policy development intervention matrix, therefore, there is a need for modest improvement in the condition of service of the staff.

Also, bearing in mind that the legislature is not only very important towards the institutionalization of democracy and good governance, but it’s indeed the bedrock of any contemporary democracy and a critical factor towards its development and sustenance in any established democracy.

Since the Legislature also performs vital and valuable roles in the affairs of a functioning democracy as the institution that links the government with the governed, this recent bill seeking to raise the retirement age of legislative staff from 60 to 65 years, and years of service from 40 to 45 years, as against the usual service years of 40 years is a welcome development.

We must not forget that the legislature handles several other duties along with lawmaking. This crucial arm of government scrutinizes government actions, ranging from approval of government appointments to investigations and supervisory activities (oversight).

The legislature debates issues of national and public interest; passes resolutions for appropriate noting/ actions of the executive arm of government; it also has the responsibility to propose changes to the country’s Constitution etc. 

Looking at these catalogues of responsibilities that are at the doorsteps of the legislature, it is only wise and proper that the bill being sponsored by the Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Hon. Mohammed Tahir Monguno be supported by all and sundry.

The Acting National President of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), Comrade Tommy Etim Okon, in a media chat had said that the organization is already pushing the issue of upward review of the age of service for civil servants from 60 to 65, and years of service from 40 to 45 years, with the Federal Government of Nigeria.

It is heartwarming that President Muhammadu Buhari, who had in October 2020, during the World Teacher’s Day, approved a special salary scale and new retirement age for teachers, recently via an Executive Bill he sent to the Senate, sought to change years of service for teachers from 35 years to 40 years, and retirement age from 60 to 65 years.

The above coming from the president is commendable given the gigantic intellectuality naturally associated with the teachers. Going forward on this same page, given the multi-purpose functions of the Legislature in Nigeria, it is only normal, fit and proper, that this bill seeking tenure elongation for legislative staff in Nigeria, will be given the urgency and priority it deserves.

The five-year extension of service for legislative staff in Nigeria is one avenue to guarantee transfer of practical experience and knowledge by the top echelon of staff, who are on their way out, yet few in numbers.

It is only the tenure elongation, according to Mohammed Tahir Monguno’s bill, that will eliminate unnecessary additional cost and burdens.

No doubt, the bill, when it becomes law, will act as a wonderful morale booster to legislative staff across the country, to scale up their statutory duties.

Igbotako Nowinta, a human rights activist and legislative scholar writes from Abuja 

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