By Andy Asemota
National Assembly legislative aides on Monday grounded their activities temporarily following a peaceful protest over nonpayment of their 2019 salary arrears and other entitlements.
Numbering about 2500, they have resolved to commence a total showdown with the management of Ninth National Assembly to pursue their demands to a logical conclusion.
The action, which took the aggrieved staff to the entrance of the Green and the Red Chambers of the legislature, did not disrupt the proceedings of the lawmakers who however suspended, shortly after their resumption, the plenary sessions and other businesses of the National Assembly for 24 hours to mourn the demise of members of the House of Representatives in line with the executive convention of the legislature.
In a press statement, the irate aides decried the “series of infractions and acts of impunity” that had be perpetrated by the management of the assembly against them.
The statement signed by Zebis Prince, Tony Omail, Waziri Anaba, Adebisi Kilanso, Chinedu Nwokeukwu and Audi Alaso, further expressed their “great displeasure at the miserable and inhuman working conditions” in the assembly.
Legislative Aides protest non payment of allowances
“Some of these capricious acts include non-payment of the routine Duty Tour Allowance (DTA), lack of training, non-implementation of the National Minimum Wage and the Consolidated Legislative Aides Salary Structure (CONLESS); benefits that are already being enjoyed by other workers in federal establishment. We are wondering why the money is being withheld by the CNA even after management had long admitted that the funds were available.
“Let it be on record that having exhausted our patience and internal dispute resolution mechanism, we have resolved to pursue our grievances using all legitimate tools at our disposal. Apart from this sensitization campaign, we also intend to embark on sustained social media campaign, petition relevant agencies and NGOs to look particularly into legislative aides account and how it is bing administered.
“As a last resort, we may approach the National Industrial Court not necessarily on the vexed arrears alone but on other entitlements that have been denied us. We have been pushed to the walls but we have the resolve, resources and documents to pursue these matters to a logical conclusion. We will continue our sensitization rally for as long as it takes,” they stated.
The aides, who also revealed that they were determined to down their tools last December but for the intervention of the NASS Director of DSS that prevailed on them to stay action, expressed regret that, as usual, the assembly management failed to keep its words.
“On account of this breach, we have set machinery in motion to bring our plight to the attention of all relevant stakeholders and agencies,” they vowed.
however learnt that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Demi Gbajabiamila, had promised to wade into the matters to ensure speedy payment of the long overdue entitlements.