UPDATED: Protesting workers shut National Assembly, demand salaries

Protesting workers shut National Assembly, demand salaries
Protesting workers shut National Assembly, demand salaries

Hundreds of staff of the National Assembly on Tuesday shut lawmakers out of the complex to demand payment of their entitlements.

The workers held placards bearing inscriptions such as ‘Omolori is a contractor’ ‘Killing staff with poor condition of service’ and ‘Constitute the National Assembly Commission Now.’

Mohammed Sani-Omolori is the Clerk of the National Assembly.

The workers, members of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, chanted songs as they blocked the entrance of both chambers of the National Assembly.

They vowed not to allow lawmakers to hold plenaries until they received notification of payment.

The workers accused Mr Sani-Omolori of denying them their entitlements up to eight years and blocking the enforcement of the Consolidated Legislative Salary Structure (CONLESS)

“They are withholding our allowances for over eight years now,” one of the staff who declined to mention his name said. “Some of us have not received our allowances. This thing (CONLESS) was approved since 2010. They siphon money meant for training without training anybody.

“Normally, when you work for three years, you are entitled to promotion but no promotion. So many staff who have been due for promotion for years now have still not been promoted. At a time they released some promotions, they withheld some.”

Another protester who simply identified himself as Sunday said the management of the National Assembly betrayed an agreement with the workers.

They also demanded the immediate removal of Mr Sani-Omolori.

“The protest is about our salaries and allowances. In 2010 the Senate and the House of Reps acted on the recommendations of the National Assembly Service Commission and approved Consolidated Salaries Structures for National Assembly Staff.

“And at that time, a certain percentage which was supposed to be 50 per cent was paid at the time of approval with a promise that after that time, it would be extended to 100 per cent. That was the agreement.

“When the time came for them to complete implementations, the management of the National Assembly kept telling us approvals and releases have not been given and Ministry of Finance have not released the payment and so many excuses.

“When it comes to their own allowances, it’s not delayed one day. How come just stipends for staff is difficult for them? What we are protesting here, at the end of the day, it will not be more than N10, 000 or N15, 000 added to the salary of an officer here, but the legislators earn hundreds of millions.”

Asides implementation of CONLESS, Mr Sunday said the workers were protesting over staff promotions and training.

“As we speak now, the National Assembly Service Commission that is statutorily responsible for appointments and promotions has released promotions of officers that were successful at the last promotion exams; but till now the CNA (Clerk of the National Assembly) is withholding those promotions.

“We are also protesting staff training. Every year, there are huge budgets for training of staff but nothing like that has been done. Some staff have not had training since they came. But directors and senior officers keep putting themselves in hotels across the country in the name of training.”

To drive home their demands, the workers blocked entrances into the chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives turning back lawmakers who dared to show up.

PREMIUM TIMES reporter watched as the Senate Chief Whip, Olusola Adeyeye, and senator representing Katsina North, Ahmed Babba-Kaita, were turned back by the workers.

Mr Adeyeye said he would meet the protesters in private.

Another senator, Shehu Sani, who met the protest promised to get the leadership of the National Assembly to address their grievances.

However, the workers have vowed not to back down until they receive payment alert of their entitlements.

In a chorus, they threatened to continue the protest, not leaving any room for negotiation.

The protest was still ongoing as at the time of filing this report.

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