NASS on lockdown as staff protest

OrderPaperToday- Lawmakers of both chambers have been prevented from having carrying out part of their legislative duties today.

Around 10:20am this morning, members of the Permanent Staff of the National Assembly blocked the entrance to the National Assembly complex as they came out en masse to protest unpaid salaries and allowances since 2010.

They argued that the approved plan, called the Consolidated Legislative Salary Structure (CONLESS), was to be paid to them with the agreement that 50% be initially disbursed followed by 100% disbursement in subsequent times.

Unfortunately, the agreement has not been adhered to since the initial payment was made.

The angry protesters sat at the entrance of the chambers with placards raised, expressing their displeasure.

There were several chants conveying their discontentment such as: “Omolori must go!” “No alert, No sitting!”

Mr. Mohammed Sani-Omolori is the Clerk to the National Assembly who has been accused of siphoning their payments.

One of the protesters who simply identified himself as Mr Sunday explained: “In 2010 the Senate and the House of Reps acted on the recommendations of the National Assembly Service Commission and approved [the] Consolidated Salaries Structures for National Assembly Staff.

“At that time, a certain percentage which was supposed to be 50 percent, was paid at the time of approval with a clause that after that time, it would be extended to 100 percent. That was the agreement.

“There have been agitations. 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 has 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.”

He continued: “Approval was given in 2010, the first percentage was implemented that year, since then, nothing again. Besides non-payment of salaries and allowances, we are also protesting promotions. Staff promotions are not being released.

“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 CAN is withholding those promotions.

“We are also protesting staff trainings. 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.”

Another protester who pled anonymity said: “They are withholding our allowances for over 8 years now, some of us have not received our allowances. This thing 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.”

After listening to their plight, it was agreed that the lawmakers will address them on Thursday over the highlighted issues.

Senator Shehu Sani assured them saying: “I am with you on this. I will ensure that the leadership comes down to address you.”

The Whip of the Senate, Olusola Adeyeye also promised to meet with them.

“I will talk with you on this matter but not right now. It will be private.”

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