Nat Confab: Delegates adopt part-time legislature

Delegates at the National Conference Committee on Wednesday unanimously adopted the recommendation of the Confab Committee on Public Service that legislators at the National Assembly and state levels should function on part-time basis to reduce cost of governance in the country.

The committee chaired by a former Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Ebele Okeke, had also called for the review of the salaries of the legislators towards ensuring that their allowances “should be comparable with what obtains in other arms of the public service.”

But when the issue was put to vote, delegates adopted the recommendation for part-time legislature in the National Assembly and state Houses of Assembly.

However, the recommendation of the committee for upward review of retirement age to 65 years of age or 40 years of service from the present practice of 60 years of age or 35 years of service, elicited uproar among the delegates on Wednesday in Abuja.

Okeke had, while opening the debate on the committee’s report before adjournment the previous day, said that it was the recommendation of the committee that payment of pension, life insurance and severance for legislators, where they exist, should be cancelled in line with global best practices.

But a delegate representing the youth at the conference, Mr. Charles Linvinus Ibiang, rejected the recommendation for upward review of the retirement age of the civil servants, on the premise that the older ones should give way to the younger ones to also make contribution to national development.

The Okeke-led committee had also recommended that ministers, commissioners and local government chairmen should discontinue appointment of ‘Special Advisers’ and Special Assistants’ as a cost-saving measure to reduce cost of governance.

The committee argued that these categories of political office holders should utilize the staff of their ministries where it becomes necessary as contained in Circular Ref. No.B63833/73 of January 3, 2000.

It said, “While it is appreciated that the nature of presidential system of government necessitates the appointment of ‘Special Advisers’ and Special Assistants’ to the President, the Vice President, the Governor and the Deputy Governor, its extension to ministers, commissioners and local government chairmen should be discontinued as a cost-saving measure.”

In order to make for good governance, the Committee on Public Service had also recommended that September as the deadline for the presentation of Appropriation Bill by the Executive to the National Assembly should be enshrined in the constitution.

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