Barely 24 hours after it was reported that outgoing Clerk of the National Assembly, Alhaji Mohammed Sani-Omolori, and 150 top officials of the federal legislature who have attained the retirement age of 60 or spent 35 years in service had been asked to go, intense lobby for the job of the clerk has commenced, with five top civil servants angling to replace him.
LEADERSHIP Friday gathered that the secretary of procurement, estate and works, Arch Amos Olatunde Ojo; secretary of legal matters, Bala Mohammed Yabani, Clerk of the Senate, Nelson Ayewoh, Clerk of the House of Representatives, Patrick Giwa and director of legal services, Ademola Adebanjo are jostling for the juicy position.
The senior civil servants, it was learnt, had been lobbying principal officers of the National assembly, key lawmakers and some members of the commission, asking for their support in the selection of Sani-Omolori’s replacement.
“The offices of principal officers of the National Assembly have become Mecca of some sort for these senior civil servants. They go there very often to confer with the lawmakers they consider influential enough and seek their support for the clerk position”, a senior legislative aide confided in our correspondent.
As the controversy over the sack of the clerk and others rages, a group under the auspices of ‘Omolori’s Solidarity Group’ has register its displeasure with what it perceived as illegal retirement of the former clerk.
The group accused the leadership of the National Assembly under Senator Ahmed Lawan of unlawfully removing Sani-Omolori to plant his lackey as new Clerk.
The group comprising some affected staff of the National Assembly and other concerned Nigerians threatened to not only drag Senate President Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila before President Muhammedu Buhari over the development but also stage a 1000-man match to register what it described as “callous and mischievous memo from the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) implying that Sani-Omolori must be retired”.
The group wondered why Sani-Omolori and others were forced to retire when “the extant regulation as contained in NASS’ Revised Conditions of Service duly passed by both Chambers of the 8th National Assembly puts the retirement age of staff at 40 years of service and 65 years of age– whichever comes first”.
Sani-Omolori had yesterday, after the notice of his retirement came, argued that the resolution of the 8th National Assembly on the
conditions of service of staff has not been rescinded nor abdicated by the National Assembly, which under the authentic National Assembly Service Act 2014 as passed is empowered to review any proposed amendment to the conditions of service by the commission.
Meanwhile, as the jostle to clinch the Clerk position continues, a civil society organisation, Crusade Against Corruption and Injustice in Nigeria (COCIN), has written to the National Assembly Service Commission, asking it to review alleged irregularities in the promotion of the secretary of procurement, estate and works, Arch Amos Olatunde Ojo.
The petition dated July 15 and jointly signed by its executive director, Alhaji Abubakar Danjuma; director, public affairs, Comrade Patrick Momoh and director, investigations, Comrade Oyekunle Ajani, asked the commission to clear the augean stable in the National Assembly.
The group in the petition alleged that Ojo’s promotion to the directorate level did not comply with the statutory 4-year provision, even as he did not sit for any promotion examination to the Salary Grade Level 17.
The petition reads: “That in order to restore sanity and professionalism in the National Assembly service, you must make a clean sweep of the old order, which held the bureaucracy to ransom in the absence of a board.
“That we have reliably gathered that Arch. Amos Olatunde Ojo, the secretary, procurement, estate and works, who has been alleged to be part of the cabal that perpetrated all manner of irregularities in the absence of a commission, is lobbying to be the next CAN.”
The group told the commission that Ojo was not fit enough to be considered as the next clerk of the National Assembly.
COCIN continued: “Hon chairman, we wish to state without mincing words that Arch Ojo is not fit to be the face of the National Assembly bureaucracy because of the atrocities he had allegedly committed and the irregularities inherent in his career progression, which are in clear violation of the Public Service Rules.
“It is a known fact that Arch Ojo’s promotion to the directorate level did not comply with the statutory 4-year provision, neither did he sit
for any promotion examination to the Salary Grade Level 17. He was first appointed into the National Assembly service as chief architect
on GL14 on March 27, 2004 and was confirmed a permanent staff on January 1, 2007. On January 1, 2008, he was made an assistant director and became a deputy director on January 1, 2012.
“But in less than two years (from January 1, 2012 to september 24, 2013), he was appointed acting director and subsequently promoted to a
full-fledged director on November 24, 2014, while the promotion was backdated to January 1, 2013.
“This is an abnormality as he was not due for promotion to the rank of director because he was barely 1 year as deputy director. His promotion to the rank of director ought to have been with effect from January 1, 2016”.
Meanwhile, the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) yesterday queried the outgoing clerk, Sani-Omolori, for issuing a press release to counter the commission’s directive on Wednesday.
The query dated June 16, and received by the office of the clerk, was signed by the chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission, Engr Ahmed Kadi Amshi.
The query alleged that Sani-Omolori breached the public service rules by issuing the press release.
The query, the outgoing clerk is given 24 hours to explain why disciplinary action would not be taken against him.
It noted: “The attention of the National Assembly Service Commission was drawn to a Press Release titled: “Retirement age for staff of the National Assembly Service is 40 years of Service or 65 years of Age, whichever comes first” dated 15th July, 2020 and signed by M.A Sani-Omolori, Clerk to the National Assembly.
“As you are very much aware, the Clerk to the National Assembly is an employee of the National Assembly Service Commission, vide Section 6(1) b of the National Assembly Service Act, 2014 (As amended). The Clerk to the National Assembly has no authority whatsoever to dictate anything to the Commission. Your press release is considered by the Commission as a gross insubordination to a constituted authority.
“You are, by this letter requested to explain to the Commission within twenty four (24) hours as to why disciplinary action will not be taken against you as per the provision of Section 6(2)b of the National Assembly Service Act, 2014 (As Amended) for this gross insubordination.”