National Assembly Suspends Controversial Legislation on Workers’ Pension
The House of Representatives debated a controversial bill seeking to pull National Assembly workers out of the contributory pension scheme.
The bill had been listed for third reading but Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, was forced to step down the passage to allow consultation by the differing sides.
The legislation was titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Amend the Pension Reform Act, 2014 to Exclude/Exempt the National Assembly Service from the Contributory Pension Scheme and Establish the National Assembly Service Pension Board; and for related matters’.
As the proceeding got to Item 13, under ‘Consideration of Reports’ on the Order Paper, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Pensions, Bamidele Salam, raised a point of order to protest against the planned passage when the bill was referred to the committee but the committee had yet to conduct a public hearing on it.
Gbajabiamila, who noted that the committee was supposed to conduct the hearing and report back to the House on the bill, said the House should reverse the process “if there is something fundamentally wrong.”
The speaker said, “I am aware that the committee wrote (to me) for funds for public hearing. I have not acted on it simply because we did not have sufficient funds at the time. You will agree with me that a matter such as this one, that requires pension, should go through public hearing so all interests will come and voice their opinions.
“From the presentation by the Deputy Chairman, this matter was referred to the committee. His committee was not given the opportunity to be asked why it has not submitted its report. I think it is only fair, under the doctrine of fair hearing, to have asked the committee, ‘We sent you this thing 60 days ago, why have you not submitted your report?’ And because it is something that affects the National Assembly, which we are a part of, it is the more reason why we should be circumspect, so that we will be seen to be above board.”