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The Nigerian Senate on Thursday in a dramatic u – turn, passed a bill for extension of service for employees of the National Assembly from 60 to 65 years.

The bill, which had been passed at the House of Representatives, was earlier stepped down by the Senate president, Godswill Akpabio last Tuesday, following rejection by members

But in a dramatic turn and without any dissentment, the bill was approved by the Senate at plenary on Thursday

The proposed legislation, titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to make provision for retirement age of staff of National Assembly Service and For Other related Matters’, was re-presented for concurrence by Senate Leader, Bamidele Opeyemi, (APC, Ekiti).

Opeyemi, while leading the debate, said that corrections had been made on the bill with proper and more extensive inputs in the various clauses.

He said special regards had also been paid to global best practices, including the definition of who a legislative officer is in civilised and more advanced democracies, especially the United States and the United Kingdom.

“These countries had adopted the standard we want to adopt, in terms of need to establish and strengthen institutional memories by ensuring a certain retirement age threshold for legislative officials,” he said.

Opeyemi said he had done a lead debate and hence, urged the Senate to pass the bill for concurrence.

The bill was heavily opposed by senators during the debate on February 22, with Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe wondering if staff of the National Assembly, who were employed by the National Assembly Service Commission, NASC, are different from staff in other agencies of government to warrant the elongation of their service.

The former Deputy Governor of Abia State faulted reasons adduced by the sponsor of the bill that emphasised on specialization, insisting that there was nothing special about staff in the National Assembly that would warrant the 10th Assembly doing the wrong thing.

Also rejecting the bill when it was presented last Tuesday,  Senator Ali Ndume, representing Borno South,  warned that posterity would not be fair to the lawmakers if the interest of few individuals packaged in the bill was sustained by the Senate.

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