Some legislative aides to federal lawmakers staged a peaceful protest on Tuesday to demand unpaid salaries and allowances.
The lawmakers had just resumed plenary after a three-week Easter break.
The aides, positioned at the lobby between both chambers of the National Assembly, held placards and chanted words asking lawmakers and the Clerk of the National Assembly, Olatunde Ojo, to pay salaries and allowances.
The Clerk, they said, have failed to pay salary arrears, minimum wage, implement Consolidated Legislative Salary Structure (CONLESS), Duty Tour Allowances (DTA), among others.
The protest comes barely 24 hours after another group of National Assembly workers called the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) threatened to commence an indefinite industrial action if the management fails to meet their demands – which also includes unpaid salaries.
A recurring act
Tuesday’s protest will not be the first in the Ahmad Lawan-led ninth assembly.
A similar protest with the same demands was held by the aides in December 2019. They had not only accused the National Assembly management of refusing to pay them for over six months, the management was also accused of short-changing the few who were paid.
That protest came about two weeks after Mr Lawan and the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, met with relevant agencies of government led by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to discuss the non-payment of severance allowances for legislative aides who served in the National Assembly between 2015 and 2019.
“It is only fair that we give them what is due to them (aides). We realise there was need to bring on board for this discussion the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and the National Assembly Service Commission as well, so that in this meeting we are able to discuss and finalise where the source of the severance allowance for the legislative aides will be,” Mr Lawan had said.
The demands by these set of ex-legislative aides for salaries and allowances due to them lingered all through the eighth assembly.
The aides had in October 2018, staged a protest at the National Assembly Complex to demand allowances – an act which the former Chairperson of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Abdulrazak Namdas, described as “uncalled for.”
The aides had also written a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission demanding an investigation into “criminal diversion of their budgeted legitimate entitlements.”
Mr Gbajabiamila, who was somewhat ambushed by the protesting aides when he made his way to the chambers, said it is inexcusable not to pay workers their wages.
He thereafter promised that the National Assembly management “will look into it” while he asked that the protesters exercise patience.
“We know there are financial constraints but one thing I know is this will be resolved amicably and your arrears will be paid,” he said.
Meanwhile, as is their tradition, the Senate adjourned plenary and all other legislative activities to mourn two members of the House who dies during the break – Haruna Maitala, who represented Bassa/Jos North Federal Constituency of Plateau State, died on April 2 in a fatal motor accident and Suleiman Aliyu Lere, who represented Lere Federal Constituency, Kaduna State and died on April 6.
Motion to suspend all activities for the day and adjourn was moved by the Senate Leader, Abdulahi Yahaya and seconded by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe.
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