There was a very low turn-out for the protest.
Despite repeated promises to address them, members of the Lagos State House of Assembly Thursday snubbed a group of protesters gathered in front of the Assembly building to protest the huge remuneration of federal legislators and the disconnect between the people and legislators across the country.
The peaceful protest tagged #OurNass was organised by civil society group, Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE) and was intended to bridge the disconnect between federal legislators and the people. Though the protest was primarily intended to take place at the National Assembly building in Abuja, there were plans for it to be replicated simultaneously at state houses of assembly across the country.
The protesters who had gathered in Alausa, by 10 a.m. attracted the attention of officials of the assembly who promised that a legislator would soon address the protesters. But the protesters dispersed after standing and chanting in the atrocious sun for nearly 5 hours and being completely ignored.
Attendance was a far cry from the huge online buzz the protest received in the weeks leading to the protest. Two hours after the protest was scheduled to have started only a handful of protesters could be seen. In all there were less than 30 protesters.
However, the protesters weren’t subdued by the disappointing turnout. They sang, chanted, and held up placards denouncing the outrageous remuneration of legislators.
“Their basic salary is almost N2.5 million. They get a hardship allowance which is 50 per cent of their basic salary, they get a constituency allowance which is 200 per cent of that, they get a furniture allowance which is 300 per cent of that and the get newspaper allowance which is 50 per cent of that. For God sake how many newspapers are you reading for N1.2 million?” asked one of the protesters, Debo Adejugbe.
The protesters also condemned the government for the prolonged strike of lecturers across the country. They blamed the government of choosing to pamper federal legislators at the expense of education.
“There are about 20 million Nigerian students at home right now because of N87 billion. This is Day 88 of the ASUU strike, 20 million Nigerian students need N87 billion 489 Nigerians are living on N150 billion every year. So who is fooling who?” said Dada Olusegun.
In the course of the protest, the demonstrators held a mock plenary session where they voted unanimously to cut legislators pay to the minimum wage of N18, 000. They also voted to drop the appellation “honourable” commonly used by legislators.
The protesters later submitted a handwritten petition to the Clerk of the House of Assembly.
Though the protesters did not dwell on it, the Lagos lawmakers pay is believed to be as outrageous and as secretive as their federal counterparts, which is perhaps the reason for them shunning the demonstrators.
EiE said the protests are intended to make five demands off the government:
1. Immediate disaggregation of the National Assembly’s 2013 allocation of N150 billion.
2. An account of income and expenditure of the over N1 trillion the National Assembly has been allocated since 2005.
3. The national Assembly should make available functional email addresses, phone numbers and constituency office addresses for all members of the National Assembly.
4. That all voting records on all the constitutional amendments made public, and
5. Attendance list for each plenary made public.