Bill to exempt NASS staff from contributory pension scheme stalled

A bill seeking to exempt management staff of the National Assembly from the contributory pension scheme by amending the Pension Reform Act, 2014 to that effect has gotten stalled in the House of Representatives, as its third reading has been deferred.

As alternative to National Pension Commission (PENCOM) coordinated scheme, the proposal intends to establish the National Assembly Service Pensions Board.

Members of the House on Wednesday disagreed over the procedure followed in making the proposed amendment, report of which at the committee of Whole, chaired by Deputy Speaker Ahmed Idris-Wase, two weeks ago considered and approved the report before it was subsequently slated for third reading.

However, when its third reading motion was called for, Deputy chairman of the committee on Pensions, Hon. Bamidele Salam, raised a point of order urging the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila to step down the third reading of the bill, saying that any attempt to exempt certain classes of people from the contributory pension scheme may lead to the collapse of that system.

“I don’t see the need to exit the National Assembly from this contributory pension scheme. The overdoing consideration has been that any attempt to exempt certain classes of people from the contributory pension scheme may lead to the collapse of that system. This will open a floodgate of other demands by other critical sectors,” he stated.

Similarly, another member of the committee, Hon. Bem Mzondu, said the right procedures to bill’s passage was not followe, reminding the speaker that he did not grant the committee their request for a public hearing to be held on the bill before sending it to the committee of the Whole.

“The right procedures were not followed. We requested for a public hearing, we wrote to your office but our request was not considered. If we open this floodgates of exit, many requests will come in. It means the pension scheme will collapse. Because every agency wants to exit the pension scheme. I plead this should be stepped down”, he stated.

The deputy speaker however opposed his colleagues, as he referred to the standing orders of the House, to the effect that a presiding officer the has the right to commit any bill to Committee of the Whole.

“This bill didn’t come today, there was first and second reading and today we are committing it to third reading. Not all bills must go through public hearing. I don’t know why any matter that pertains to national assembly we are the first to raise issues, is that we don’t care about the welfare of the same people that are serving us?,” Wase said.

In his ruling, Gbajabiamila who confirmed that he was approached by the committee said, “You cant single out one committee, there are other committees that hasn’t submitted reports in months. The matter was brought to my notice for public hearing but there was no fund at the time. Public hearing should be held for matters like this so all interests will air their views”.