Staff of the National Assembly will not stop the president, Muhammadu Buhari, from presenting the 2019 budget to federal lawmakers, the chairman of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), Bature Mohammed, has said.
Speaking as the police barricaded the National Assembly Tuesday morning, Mr Mohammed said the president is free to present the budget anytime.
Mr Buhari is billed to present the 2019 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly on Wednesday. The presentation could, however, be hampered by a four-day warning strike, which parliamentary staff began on Monday.
The staff, on Monday, blocked the main entrance into the assembly complex preventing usual movement of people and vehicles.
In reaction to this, the leadership of the National Assembly asked the police and State Security Service (SSS) to secure the assembly for Tuesday’s plenary.
The lawmakers hold plenaries on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays of the week.
In carrying out this order, uniformed police officials, on Tuesday, blocked the entrance into the National Assembly, preventing workers, journalists and others from entering.
Some journalists were later allowed to enter.
Speaking on the development, Mr Mohammed said the assembly’s leadership has worsened the situation by its latest move.
“The leadership of the National Assembly are making all issues worse by asking for security to secure the National Assembly against its staff.
“Just some hours ago, they selected some of our staff against their wish, threatening them to go and work for them. Some of our chamber attendants are there now, working for them against their wish.”
Despite this, however, the staff will allow Mr Buhari to present the budget anytime he so wishes, Mr Mohammed noted.
He denied reports that some of the staff cut off power and water supply on Monday, saying they are law abiding in their protest.
“As far as we are concerned, we do not intend, by any means, to stop the president from presenting his budget. If we can allow cleaners and bankers to go in and discharge their duties, how can we stop Mr President from presenting his budget? But you can see that the action of the presiding officers is sending wrong signals by (locking) the gate. We are not the ones that locked this gate. It’s a very wrong signal and we condemn it in totality.
“We are law abiding citizens. We’ve been following all rules guided by due process.
“So, Mr President is free. If he can even come now we’ll guide him to make sure that he presents the budget and comes out freely.”
He said the association will regroup after the warning strike to decide the next line of actions.
After the warning strike, we’ll get back to “our people and consult about the next line of action. But I want to assure you that we will not back down until our demands are met,” he said.
As at 11.10 a.m., no one had come out to address the workers. Also, no SSS operative was sighted in the assembly premises.
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