President Muhammedu Buhari has been enjoined to immediately disband the Senator Abubakar Tutari led Committee over alleged subterranean moves to ensure the removal of the national assembly clerk, Mr Sani Omolori and over fifty top management staffs of the National Assembly.
The call made by concerned staffers of National and State Houses of Assemblies particularly called for the setting aside of the Tutari led committee recommendations to safeguard the sanctity of the legislative arm of government .
The staffers claimed that the committee recommendations was designed to discredit the leadership of the national assembly bearaucracy and “initiate a power grab and bazaar operation in the National Assembly.’
The Assembly staffers argued that the Tutari led Committee cannot serve both as Investigator, judge, and the executor of the said recommendations.
The staffers stated in a letter to President Buhari and the Senator Ahmad Lawan led leadership of the national Assembly and heads of security agencies jointly signed by Messrs Salisu Functua National President, Akindele Adesanya, and Aguawike Ebele
National Publicity Secretary and National Secretary respectively.
The group claimed there are
conspiracy and coordinated campaign to impugn the integrity of the process which led to the adoption and consequent gazette of the New Revised Conditions of Service for the Staff of the National Assembly by the 8th National Assembly being domesticated by the 36 states assemblies .
The group maintained that 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.
The staffers posited that 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.
The staffers claimed that they are privy to information that the Tutari led committee’s work was initiated by powerful vested interests to instigate a leadership change in the Management of the National Assembly.
They warned that that maneuvers by a few power brokers, will wreak incalculable damage on the National Assembly by presenting it in a bad light.
The staffers argued that upon winning the support of members of both chambers, the revised condition of service 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 committee requested that the National Assembly Management furnish 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. The full and complete reliance of the committee on the petition(s) and the supersonic speed with which it wrote its report and subsequent position paper in the form of a memo to the Chairman exposed a troubling pattern of impunity, partiality and an unrelenting determination to deliver a pre-determined report in furtherance of a predictable subterfuge.
“We are worried about the incalculable damage this hatchet job which is what this report is, will do to the institution of the legislature if it is allowed to stand. Ironically, only three members of the committee were in Abuja during the lockdown when the committee supposedly wrote the report.
” The remaining three members were summoned to Abuja and had to travel under heavy police escort to Abuja in order to sign the report.
“It may also interest you to know that the same committee quickly transformed itself into the panel that issued a white paper or position paper based on their own report without waiting for the Commission to deliberate on their findings.
We are worried by these untoward happenings; the shedding of all semblance of impartiality by the committee, lack of equity and fairness, the throwing of caution to the winds and the single-minded determination to destroy the Revised Conditions of Service upon which peace and harmony was cemented among the staff in the 8th National Assembly. Even more damning, is the content of the purported report of the committee which bears a frightening and striking resemblance with the position canvassed by Next Level Due Process Group which lends credence to coordination between the committee and powerful vested interests at whose behest the group has been in the media space.
“The committee anchored its adoption of the position of the Next Level Due Process Group to stop the implementation of the Revised Conditions of Service, on very untenable premise fraught with mischief and lack of knowledge of due process. The first reason the committee adduced for calling for an end to the implementation of the Revised Conditions of Service is that its continuous implementation will lead to stagnation in promotion.
“This position is fundamentally flawed because the Revised Conditions of Service did not prevent staff from enjoying promotion as and when due based on available vacancies. It is also difficult to see how the implementation of the condition of service will lead to the increase in the level of unemployment in the country since the National Assembly employs based on available vacancies.
“And in any case, the National Assembly is a professional institution which ought to employ new staff based on needs and not as an employment center.
The committee report is of the position that the amended Conditions of Service was in contravention and at variance with extant Civil Service Act, Pensions Act and Salaries and Wages Act.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the National Assembly as an independent branch of government and the Commission is empowered to set its own rules and regulations under Sections 19(1) of the NASC Act 2014. The Committee by presuming that there is a ‘Civil Service Act’ applicable to NASS displayed their lack of knowledge on Civil Service Rules. There is nothing like civil Service Act. In any case there is nothing like Civil Service Rules anyumore, but Public Service Rules (PSR).”
” In the case of the Pension and Salaries and Wages; those Acts never prescribed age of service but only made reference to extant Public Service Rules in respect to age.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the National Assembly Service Commission has the power of variation to set the age limit of service for its staff just like the National Judicial Commission (NJC) has done for Judges and the Federal Civil Service for University Professors.
“The Committee deliberately and mischievously ignored the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari on many occasions had extended the tenure of some Permanent Secretaries beyond their retirement dates for purposes of capacity needs in the Federal Service and such action never caused disruption in the service.
“The Committee also failed to note that in line with interpretation Act Cap 192 LFN 1990 he who has power to appoint has both power to remove and extend. Section 19(1) of the NASC Act confers this power on the Commission hence the Revised Conditions of Service.
‘The National Assembly Revised Condition of Service is not in uncharted territory but merely following established norms within its own system.
Your Excellency, in concluding this open letter, we would like to appeal to your patriotism and sense of decency. 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 precedence if allowed to stand.