The two chambers of the National Assembly was besieged by protesting legislative aides of lawmakers on Wednesday, who staged a peaceful protest in order to reiterate their demands for the payment of 2019 outstanding salaries and implementation of the new national minimum wage.
Ripples Nigeria also gathered that the aides demanded the implementation of Consolidated Salary Structure (CONLESS), Duty Tour Allowance (DTA), among others.
Plenary sessions were ongoing in both chambers as the workers laid siege at the entrances which necessitated a beef-up in security in order to forestall violence.
Some of the placards displayed by the protesters under the aegis of ‘Concerned Legislative Aides’ read: “Misappropriation of public funds criminal – FRA 2007”; “End salary arrears debacles; We are Aides, not slaves”; “Stop the impunity in National Assembly”; “CNA is a public servant, he is not above the law”; “It is inexcusable to be owed 2019 salaries in 2021 – Rt. Hon. Speaker.”
According to the obviously-angry workers, the protests would be sustained until their demands were implemented.
Consequently, they also charged the Clerk for the National Assembly, Arc. Olatunde Ojo to ensure prompt payment of the salaries and allowances in a bid to ensure industrial harmony.
The coordinator of the protest, Zendis Prince bemoaned that the group was misled into believing earlier assurances of payment which led to the fresh protests.
He blamed the Olatunji Ojo-led NASS management team for the situation.
“Two weeks ago, we were here to protest the non-payment of our salary arrears. It is so sad and unfortunate that after 2weeks and we were addressed by the Speaker (Mr Gbajabiamila) who admitted that it is inexcusable to owe workers wages for 22months. We have it on good authority that these salary arrears were duly appropriated and released on the first line charge.
“Unfortunately, what the management of the National Assembly is that this money is no more there. What happened to the money that was released for this purpose? It is either this money has been embezzled or misappropriated.”
Ripples Nigeria had reported in March that the House of Reps passed a resolution to compel management of the National Assembly Service Commission (NASC) to ensure payment of all outstanding salaries and allowances of Legislative Aides for 2019 and 2020.
Accordingly, adequate budgetary provisions were made and funds released on First Line Charge bases for the payment of salaries and allowances of Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members.
The resolution was passed after the adoption of the Recommendations of the Committee on House Services on the need to investigate the irregularities in the payment of salaries and allowances of Legislative Aides in the 9th Assembly,’ chaired by Hon. Olawale Raji.
According to the report, a whopping sum of N23.6 billion was appropriated in the 2019 Appropriation Act as allowances for the outgoing Legislators and their Legislative Aides, incoming Legislators and their Legislative Aides under the Service Wide Vote, but all the allowances due to the Legislative Aides were not paid.
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