Bill to extend retirement age of NASS staff to 65 years resurfaces

By Femi Ogunshola

The controversial bill to extend the retirement age of National Assembly staff to 65 years has resurfaced in the House of Representatives.

The Bill was considered and passed for the second reading during plenary session in Abuja.

The bill, titled “A Bill For an Act to Make Provisions for the Retirement Age for Staff of National Assembly Service and for Related Matters,” is sponsored by the Deputy Minority Leader, Rep. Aliyu Madaki (NNPP-Kano).

During the debate on the proposed legislation, Madaki explained that the bill aimed to establish a unified retirement age for National Assembly staff and grant them independence.

The proposed retirement age is set at 65 years or 40 years of service, whichever comes first.

Madaki argued that this extension would enhance the efficiency of the professionalized National Assembly staff.

In support of the bill, Rep. Ali Isa, the Minority Whip, emphasised that it would preserve the specialised experience of National Assembly staff.

He noted that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has also advocated for such an extension, which is already in practice in many countries.

Rep. Abdullahi Rasheed added that the bill would boost the morale of National Assembly staff and enable them to meet the demands of their complex roles.

The bill passed the second reading and was referred to the House committee on Public Service Matters.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report that the Bill has faced previous assemblies since the seventh 7th assembly without success, while the 9th assembly reintroduced the Bill on June 28, 2022.

NAN reports that the harmonised version of the bill re-emerged in the House of Reps on June 29th, 2021, presented by the Majority Leader, Mohammed Monguno, who stressed the importance of legislative stability in Nigeria.

The bill however encountered controversy during the 8th Assembly, raising concerns among legislative staff and officials seeking to extend their tenure.

The Bill, as perceived by many, may lead to a parallel bureaucracy within the Public Service of the federation and has faced opposition from NASS staff who see it as a strategy to impede their career growth.

NAN reports that  the house  in 2022, stepped down the report on the bill which seeks to extend the tenure of legislative staff from 35 years to 40 years and compulsory retirement from 60 years to 65 yearss.

The report which was circulated to members during the plenary, Clause 1 provides that: “The provisions of the bill shall apply throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Clause 2 provides that: “Staff of Legislative Houses in Nigeria shall compulsorily retire on attainment of 65 years of age or 40 years of pensionable service, whichever is earlier.”

Clause 3 of the report provides that: “Without prejudice to any Act of the National Assembly or law, or the Public Service Rules requiring a person to retire from the Public Service at 60 years of age or after 35 years of service shall not apply to Staff of Legislative Houses in Nigeria.”

Clause 4 provides that: “In this Act, ‘Legislative Houses’ means the National Assembly and States Houses of Assembly; while Public Service has the meaning ascribed to it under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.”

Clause 5 provides that: “This bill may be cited as the harmonized retirement age for Legislative Houses in Nigeria bill, 2022.”  (NAN)