The Clerk of the National Assembly Mohammed Sani-Omolori has officially retired from service in February this year, 2020. But the man has refused to vacate his seat, insisting he would serve for additional five (5) years. In addition, Omolori is said to be fanning embers of discord, thereby igniting crisis and tension at the national assembly.
Omolori joined the Nigeria civil service on February 6, 1985 and was therefore due for retirement on 6th February 2020, having served for 35 years which is one of the two conditions spelt out in the civil service rule for retirement. The second condition is that an officer must have attained the age of 60.
Alongside Omolori are about 160 others, mainly directors who are due for retirement within the next one year to allow their subordinates to move up and inject new ideas in the system. They are also insisting that they would not leave, if Omolori is allowed to stay back for the next five years.
But Omolori said he will not vacate office and allow a successor take over. According to him, a so-called-“Revised Conditions of Service for legislative workers,” empowers him to stay for additional five years, in defiance of all known norms in Nigeria’s civil service.
According to reliable sources in the national assembly, the “Revised Conditions of Service for legislative workers,” was masterminded by Omolori to illegally tamper with the time of retirement for the workers as contained in Nigeria’s civil service rule.
The reversed condition for legislative workers adjusted years of service from 35 to 40 and that of age from 60 to 65.
What it means is that Sani-Omolori and the nearly 100 co-conspirators want to stay back in service for another five years.
The demand for revised condition of service for legislative workers was made during the tenure of Senator Bukola Saraki and Representative Yakubu Dogara as Senate President and House of Representatives Speaker, respectively. Sani Omolori, who was said to be very close to-and totally loyal to Saraki, was said to have manipulated Saraki to facilitate passing of the reversed condition of service and left its implementation for the in-coming 9th senate.
He was said to have disturbed Saraki to take up the matter so much that a few weeks to the end of their tenure, Saraki facilitated its passage.
Sources said Saraki took up the matter and got the bill passed as reward for the role Omolori played in Saraki’s emergence as Senate President in 2015 when he connived with Saraki, conducted senate plenary while APC leaders where working to stop Saraki from contesting the senate president position at plenary.
Although the bill was passed and made to be effective from May 2019, it was however passed at a time that the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC), which is the policy-making organ of the federal legislature, had not been constituted.
President Muhammadu Buhari however constituted the National Assembly Service Commission February this year and appointed Ahmed Kadi-Amshi as the Chairman.
When they assumed office, members of the Commission reviewed the revised condition of service and agreed it was self-serving and not in the interest of the nation or good governance of the National Assembly. The NASC therefore set it aside.
The position of the Commission therefore created a division among National Assembly workers in the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN). While a faction supported the decision of the Commission, the other faction declared support for the National Assembly Management led by Omolori, insisting that the reversed condition be implemented.
The situation came to a lull following the outbreak of covid-19 which brought the National Assembly to a partial close. But with resumption of legislative activities, the matter came to the fore once against leading to the aggravated debate.
Those in support of the decision of the NASC, said there was no way such a bill can even be contemplated when it has not been assented to by the president, the way other sector workers that had their terms extended, like judges and academic staff of universities. They therefore insisted it cannot even be called a law.
However, those standing with Omolori and his National Assembly Management were of the view that the new rule is an internal process of the legislature which does not require the president’s assent.
It was in the light of the arguments for and against the new rules that the Senate, the House of Representatives and the NASC agreed to set up a three-member committee to look at the issues and recommend a position on the revised condition of service.
The committee members are former Head of Service of the Federation, Steve Oronsaye, and two former clerks of the National Assembly, Adamu Fika and Nasir Arab. They were to submit their report this July.
In the course of their sitting, the committee had invited many relevant stakeholders that made their submissions including the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF) Dr. Mrs. Folasade Yemi-Easn who appeared and made her submission last week.
In her presentation, the HOCSF told the leadership of the National Assembly to reverse the elongation of service and retirement age of workers in the federal parliament to what it was and faulted the amendment made by the 8th National Assembly to the Conditions of Service of the National Assembly.
She stated in the presentation that- “The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) classifies the clerk and other staff of the National Assembly as public servants whose conditions of service are guided by the public service rules which derives its existence from Section 169 made pursuant to Section 160(1) of the Constitution.
“In specific terms, Section 318(1) of the Constitution states that ‘public service of the Federation means the service of any capacity in respect of the Government of the Federation and includes as (a) clerk or other staff of the National Assembly or of each house of the National Assembly.’
According to her the public service rules “prescribes attainment of 60 years of age or 35 years of service for an officer to retire, whichever comes earlier,” adding that the two chambers of the 8th Assembly were wrong in revising the conditions of service.
In reaction, a faction of the workers said to be loyal to Omolori under the auspices of the Concerned Staff of National and State Houses of Assembly (CSNSHA), wrote a letter to President Muhammdu Buhari and copied both the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives attacking the HOCSF, saying she took a- “position that made it seem as if she has authority over legislative proceeding, questioning why she wanted to become an arbiter in the resolution passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.”
In the letter which was signed by comrade Salisu Funtua, National Secretary, Comrade Akindele Adesanya and National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Aguawike Ebele, the faction said, “The memo of the Head of Service can only be considered as an advisory opinion to the leadership of the National Assembly without any force of Law, adding that it has no binding effect because it is not a policy statement, guidelines or instrument of whatever value.“
However, a top officer in the office of the Clerk of the National Assembly who did want his name mentioned said the issue of Sani Omolori is of no significance any longer as the man knows he is fighting a lost war.
The source said nearly every worker at the National Assembly wants Omolori out because of his greed for power. He said Omolori was responsible to manipulating Saraki and co to rush the bill few weeks before they left office and that the Clerk of the National Assembly did not bother for the bill to be sent to President Buhari for assent before rushing to implement it because his target was to stay in office for another five years.
“We are expecting the National Assembly leadership to sit on the matter in a few days from now so that Omolori can go home and rest.
“He wants to set a bad precedent like all sit-tight leaders in Africa without allowing others to rise and bring their own input to improve the system. But it is too late, he can’t win this one,” he source said.