Worried by publications in a section of the media on alleged attempts to subvert the process for the appointment of a Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA), a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has dismissed claims in certain quarters that the tenure of the CNA, Amos Olatunde, ends on Monday, November 14, 2023.
The coalition made up of Centre for Public Accountability and Transparency (CPAT); Peoples Alliance for Indigenous Rights (PAIR); Society for Civic and Gender Equity (SoCEGE), and Partnership for Good Governance (PGG), at a press briefing, Sunday in Abuja, said there was no breach of civil service rules for the CNA to work in office during his 3-month pre-retirement notice.
A letter sighted by our correspondent with reference no: HCSF/314/93 dated November 11, 2022 and titled: “Re: Enquiry of Pre-Retirement Leave of a Retiring Civil Servant” and signed by a Director- HoS for Head of Service of the Federation, Adebayo Olujimi, supports the claim of the coalition.
The letter addressed to the Chief of Staff, Office of the Speaker, House of Representatives, with regards to the impending new appointment, reads: “I am directed to refer to your letter dated 10th November 2022 on the above subject seeking clarification on pre-retirement leave.
“The pre-retirement leave is provided for in the Public Service Rule (PSR) 100238 which states: “Officers are required to give three months notice to retire from service before the effective date of retirement. At the commencement of the three months, officers should proceed immediately on the compulsory one-month pre-retirement workshop/seminar.
“For the remaining two months, retiring officers are expected to take necessary measures to put their records straight so as to facilitate the speedy processing of their retirement benefits.
“Going by the provision, it is compulsory for the retiring officer to give a notice of three months prior to his/her retirement. Among other intents this provision is to enable the MDAs arrange a replacement in good time for the officer.
“As provided in the rule and where organised, the retiring officer will attend the one-month pre-retirement seminar. He/she is expected in his/her own interest to gather his/her records from various MDAs, he/she might have served. This is to facilitate the processing of his/her retirement benefits.”
Speaking at the press briefing, Mr. Kanjal Awam, spokesperson of the coalition said, “The National Assembly Service Commission as we know will always carry out its functions in a credible manner by following due process stated by the Head of Service of the Federation giving clearance on pre-retirement leave of a retiring civil servant.
“The CNA as we all know has already given a notice of three months to embark on retirement leave on February 14, 2023 in accordance with the Rules of the Civil Service of the Federation.
“We strongly believe that the story flying of “plans to influence members of the commission to appoint” a certain individual is planted by those afraid of going through the process.
“The job of the Clerk to the National Assembly includes: a chief adviser to both the president of the senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives and also, to communicate to all state Houses of Assembly, matters relating to the concurrence of the parliament in the tiers of government in Nigeria.
“The National Assembly Service should be seen to be fair, transparent in interpreting the rules of the commission in discharging its responsibilities.
“The Current CNA has worked to ensure promotions are gotten as when due, entitlements paid as at when due, training and retraining of staff, ensuring improved working facilities, conducive environment, cordial working relationship with the legislators and plans underway to ensure improved salaries as approved by the salaries and wages commission.
“We wish to categorically state that the CNA should be allowed to finish his tenure as stated in the service rules and interpreted by the Head of service whose role in interpreting the National Assembly service age in 2020 cannot be forgotten in a jiffy.
“February 14, 2023 is by the corner; hence, we call on all hands to be on deck in contributing their quota to see that the Clerk to the National discharges its duty in the interest of the country.”
The coalition decried the fact that the media appeared to be fixated and predictable anytime a CNA was to be appointed, noting: “The process becomes a feast for conspiracy theories, unsubstantiated allegations, red herring and the usual fabu of “credible sources.”
According to Awam, “Interestingly, the headlines never change. As it was in 2019, 2020 and it is the same now in 2022. How sad! The media owe a duty of truth, accuracy, balance and fairness. But often than not, these are thrown to the garbage bin in the effort to pander to certain interests.”