NLC slams policy barring civil servants from partisan politics

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHSF) to rescind a circular that ostensibly prohibits civil and public officials from in partisan politics.

Ayuba Wabba, the NLC President, stated this while speaking to newsmen in Abuja on Monday.

Wabba was responding to an OHSF circular titled “Re-clarification on the Provision of Public Service Rules (PSR) vis-a-vis the Supreme Court Judgment as it relates to Participation of Civil Servants in partisan Politics.”

It is an “ill-conceived and ill-founded circular,” according to the NLC president.

The OHSF had issued a circular to the heads of several Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of the Federal Government on May 8.

According to the circular, civil and public officials are barred from joining or acting in partisan politics in any form, based on the legal opinion of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on Nov. 28, 2018.

However, Wabba stated that the NLC had been overwhelmed with calls from workers and other well-intentioned Nigerians regarding the implications of the circular’s content since its distribution.

“We have also been engaged by very senior legal luminaries all over the country on the validity in law of the contents of the circular, that states inter alia neither the 1999 Constitution nor the Supreme Court has authorised civil servants to engage in partisan politics.

“The provisions of Rules 030422 of the Public Service Rules (2008 Edition) were not nullified by the Supreme Court, hence they remain in force and binding on all civil servants seeking to participate in nomination exercises or party primaries.

“The provisions of Rules 030402(g), 030422 and 030423 of the Public Service Rules (2008 Edition) should be enforced,’’ he said.

According to the NLC Chairman, the response to this circular is to state that “while we esteem the high office of the Head of the Service of the Federation and the Honourable Attorney General and Minister of Justice who appear to be in the eye of the storm generated by the referenced official circular, we are persuaded and so firmly posit that your positions on this matter negate the letters and spirit of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Your position and that of the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice also impugns the character and principles of Constitutionality.

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the ground norm and mother womb of all laws in Nigeria supersedes and overrides every other law,’’ he said.

He pointed out that Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution was unequivocal in its unqualified assurance and guarantee of every Nigerian’s freedom to freely gather and associate with others, including civil personnel.

We must state that Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is further bolstered by Sections 66(1); 107 (1 137 142(2); 182; 187(2); and 222, which recognize the right of civil and public workers to engage in partisan politics and even run for political office, the NLC Chairman further clarified.

“The only condition is that such public servants must resign- from their positions at least 30 days before the elections in which to stand as candidates(not aspirants) are held.

“The answer to this question is all the clarification needed on the eligibility of civil and public servants to engage in partisan politics,’’ he said.

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