National Assembly staff on Tuesday disrupted activities within the premises of the Senate and House of Representatives over claim of unpaid salaries and allowances by the management.
The staff who came out in their large numbers to join the protest were seen stopping the lawmakers from gaining access to the two chambers of the complex.
The News Agency of Nigeria’s (NAN) correspondent monitored the protest where the staff were shouting “Go home; we do not want dialogue anymore. What we want is Alert.”
Attempts by the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki and the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu to speak with the protesters strongly were rebuffed.
The Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr Mohammed Sani-Omolori was also prevented from gaining entrance into the complex.
They chanted solidarity songs while displaying placards with different inscriptions demanding for an improved working condition.
Some of the placards read “Omolori must go’’ “Our Oppressor Must Go’’ “Black Pharaoh must Go’’ “Black Prince Must Go”.
While this was going on, Sen. Ben Bruce (PDP-Bayelsa) told journalists that the cause of the protesters was justified and that he was in their support.
He said “I am in support of the protest because they deserve their wages. If I am paid, they should also be paid.’’
Similarly, Binta Masi (APC-Adamawa) expressed shock that the situation degenerated into shutting down the assembly complex.
She noted that she was present at a recent meeting of the leadership of the assembly and that of the staff.
She equally expressed her support for the protest since the meeting ended in a deadlock.
Some of the staff who pleaded anonymity told NAN that they resorted to shutting down the premises because they had exhausted all dispute resolution avenues.
They said members of staff had been subjected to untold hardship over the years owing to alleged selfishness of the management.
A female protester said “Whenever people get to know you work with the national assembly, they expect much from you yet we are suffering.
“Whenever I board taxi to the complex, I am charged exorbitantly yet I am not rich as people think.”
NAN recalls that National Assembly staff under the aegis of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) had fixed Dec. 4 to stage a protest over unpaid salaries and allowances.
Mr Suleiman Haruna, the union’s Secretary-General announced this in a statement in Abuja.
Haruna had informed that the first phase of the protest would take place between Dec. 4 and Dec. 8.
The association said the move became necessary following alleged nonchalant attitude of the management toward their demands.
He said the action would be a blend of protest and picketing of offices within the assembly and that the union would not tolerate default from members.
According to him, the action will commence between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily within the stipulated days.
Haruna explained that members were demanding to be put on the Consolidated Legislative Salary Structure (CONLESS) among other demands.
Recall that NAN on Monday reported that the management urged the staff not to embark on the planned strike, saying that their concerns were being addressed.
Sani-Omolori made this known in a seven-page letter addressed to the staff through the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) dated Nov. 3.