Clerk tenure elongation: Lawan, Gbajabiamila split
June 7, 2020
* House unites against Senate as crack in Red Chamber widens
The tug of war in the National Assembly over the tenure elongation of the Clerk, Mohammed Sani-Omolori and 150 other senior staff has pitched the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila against the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.
The crisis which started over a year ago at the twilight of the 8th National Assembly, when a bill entitled ‘Retirement age and conditions of service,’ was ‘smuggled’ in by the last leadership.
According to the document, the retirement age for civil servants in the National Assembly was moved from 35 to 40 years. The retirement age was upgraded from 60 to 65 years.
It was learnt that the ‘amended’ rule was being implemented despite the fact that it was not passed by both chambers of the 8th Assembly and signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to details of the controversial document, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Sani-Omolori and about 150 officers are expected to remain in office for another four to five years despite attaining the legal age of retirement.
Last week, Lawan and Gbajabiamila resolved to endorse the implementation of a committee’s report, which re-examined the controversial Harmonised Retirement Age of the Staff of the National Assembly Service.
In the submitted report, the Committee yanked off the controversial five-year tenure elongation of the Clerk and over 150 other senior staff.
However, the ‘sharing’ formula to be adopted in the distribution of the various positions in the event that Omolori is retired has now created a disaffection among the leadership.
While the leadership of the House of Representatives has taken a unified position, there is, however, a crack in the Senate.
Some leaders in the Senate are opposed to plans by Lawan to push for the appointment of his loyalist as the new Clerk.
A correspondent, had last week, reported that Lawan and Gbajabiamila had resolved to appoint persons from their geopolitical zones of Northeast and Southwest respectively.
Accordingly, the current Permanent Secretary in charge of Legal Matters for National Assembly, Bala Yabani, has been tipped as the next Clerk of the National Assembly.
He hails from Yobe, Lawan’s home state. The Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, Ahmed Amshi, who was Lawan’s Chief of Staff, also hails from Yobe.
Similarly, Olatunji Ojo Amos who is the current Permanent Secretary, Estate and Works/Procurement was among the two persons reportedly tipped to be the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly. He hails from Osun, Southwest, where Gbajabiamila also hails from.
On Wednesday, June 3, the Chief of Staff to Gbajabiamila, Sanusi Garba Rikiji, with the approval of his principal, wrote a memo to the Chairman of National Assembly Service Commission, Ahmed Amshi, urging him to maintain the status quo and disregard plans to reverse the tenure elongation of the Clerk.
Few hours later, Gbajabiamila’s Media Adviser, Lanre Lasisi, in a statement, disowned the memo and claimed that his principal did not endorse it.
On Thursday, June 4, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Patrick Giwa, forwarded a letter with the same contents to the Chairman of the Commission, Amshi, claiming that the House cannot change what the last Assembly did through a resolution. It, therefore, urged him to maintain the status quo.
The new bone of contention, Sunday Sun gathered, leading to the new gang up against Lawan, is his plan to impose another person from his state, Yobe, as Clerk, despite the fact that the current Chairman of National Assembly Service Commission is from the same state.
With the disagreement between the two leaders of the National Assembly, plans to oust Omolori may not succeed as both leaders – Lawan and Gbajabiamila – must be on the same page.