Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) members yesterday made good their threat to disrupt activities at the National Assembly.
The workers, in their numbers, shutdown the National Assembly over alleged non-payment of their salary and other allowances.
The two chambers of the National Assembly were barricaded by the placards’ bearing workers as they stopped senators and House of Representatives members from accessing their offices.
Principal officers, including Senate President Bukola Saraki, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Speaker House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara and his deputy, Lasun Yusuff, were not left out.
Some of the protesting workers took over the National Assembly lobby chanting solidarity songs as they displayed their numerous placards with various inscriptions.
Others mocked senators and House of Representatives members as they staged a fake parliamentary session with one of them bearing the mess.
The workers had at the weekend threatened to picket the National Assembly over the issues.
Clerk to the National Assembly Mohammed Sani-Omolori, however, insisted that the protest was uncalled for, especially when the demands of the workers were being treated.
The workers vowed to continue the protest until Sani Omolori is removed from office.
They claimed that efforts to explore dialogue with the management failed to yield expected results.
They also claimed that since Sani-Omolori came on board, 28 per cent increase of Consolidated Legislative Salary Structure (CONLESS), which was captured in 2018 budget has not been paid.
“The money has been released alongside other releases, and we ask where is our allowance?”
“We will not rest on CONLESS until we receive alert. Omolori must go,” the workers chanted.
PASAN issued a statement at the weekend to alert the National Assembly management of its planned protest scheduled for three days beginning from yesterday.
Some of the placards read: “Pass our condition of service bill”; “CONLESS is not tied to 2018 budget”; “Give us our CONLESS”; “Bank loans are killing”; “No alert no sitting”; “Stop Omolori now before he stops Nigeria democracy”, “Omolori must go”; “We are not slaves”.
When Saraki succeeded in paving his way to address the protesting workers, he assured them that the National Assembly leadership would meet management to resolve issues at stake.
Saraki also assured that the two chambers would take steps to fast-track the passage of the Condition of Service for National Assembly bill.
The Senate President pleaded with the workers to call off their protest as their demands would be met.
Senate Leader Ahmed Lawan said the protest was not against the leadership of the National Assembly but against the management.
Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara have directed the National Assembly Management Committee to resolve the issues raised by the protesting members of staff and report back to them by Friday.
A statement issued in Abuja by Special Adviser (Media and Publicity) to the Senate President, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said at a meeting attended by the National Assembly’s Management and members of staff under the umbrella of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), Saraki and the Speaker stated that it was important for the workers to be well-motivated and their demands properly addressed to create a conducive atmosphere for the legislature to perform its duties.
The Senate President and Speaker noted that the demands of the workers are part of the responsibilities of the National Assembly’s Management and that the grievances of the workers should not be allowed to linger.