…threaten shutdown over 22-month minimum wage arrears owed NASS staff
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Members of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), Tuesday, staged a peaceful protest at the National Assembly, calling for full implementation of financial autonomy of State Houses of Assembly.
Numbering over 400 drawn from various States across the country, the members said that the refusal of the State Governors to heed the law and the Presidential Order signed by President Muhammadu Buhari was undermining the principle of separation of powers.
The legislative workers led by PASAN President, Comrade Mohammed Usman and Deputy National President, Ikechukwu Alaribe threatened to embark on an indefinite strike that would affect all legislative bodies in the country if their demands were not met.
In a 2-page petition titled: ‘Demand for full implementation of financial autonomy for State Houses of Assembly as provided for in Constitution Section 121(3) and Presidential Order 10 2020’, and addressed separately to the Senate President, Senator Ibrahim Lawan and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, the group demanded immediate intervention of the National Assembly.
The petition read thus: “Recall that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Constitution Fourth Alteration Bill in June 2018 which among other things granted financial autonomy to all State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria and subsequent issued Executive Order 10 to ensure implementation.
“The Union considers these actions as great strides toward embedding the democratic principle of separation of powers which in turn guarantees positive progressive, effective and efficient checks and balances especially at the state level where Executives have continually arm-twisted the Legislature into total submission thereby negating the essence of separation of powers in a democracy.
“It is therefore needful to see that for there to be a robust legislature at the state level, the implementation of the legislative financial autonomy is pertinent. It is in consideration of the foregoing that PASAN wishes to express her unreserved disgust and dismay with the actions of some Nigerians and institutions particularly the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) for aiming to not only discredit but to exterminate this democratic prerequisite through frustrating its implementation.
“The Union has been magnanimous with the virtue of patience by allowing for ample time so that the Federal Government through His Excellency’s implementation committee on financial autonomy for state judiciary and legislature would ensure the implementation of the letters of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for over two years now.
“Our members have run out of patience and have resolved to forthwith put an end to condoning further delays to the implementation of the financial autonomy for States Houses of Assembly which in itself is a glaring breach of the Nigerian Constitution.
“As the Union’s motto reads, ‘Service for Democracy’, the union shall remain committed to serving the nation’s democracy but the continuous non-implementation of Financial Autonomy at the state level is a huge obstacle before the wheel of democracy and the principle of separation of powers which in turn frustrates our devoted service. Consequent to the foregoing, the union hereby demand full implementation of the letters of our constitution as provided in section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Failure to meet the above demand, the union will have no other option than to direct all its members nationwide to embark on indefinite strike action. By implication, the nationwide strike action shall see the following institutions shut down: National Assembly, National Assembly Service Commission, all state Houses of Assembly, all States Houses of Assembly Service Commission and al agencies under them.”
Similarly, the National Assembly chapter of PASAN has also demanded immediate payment of 22 months of the outstanding national minimum wage, among others.
A petition co-signed by PASAN National Assembly Chapter Chairman, Sunday Sabiyi and PASAN National Assembly Service Commission Chairman, Ojemeri Oisameye, dated 25th February 2021, had issued a 21-day ultimatum for the implementation of the requests, “failure of which industrial harmony cannot be further guaranteed in the workplace.”
Part of the petition read thus: “The Association urged the NASC Commission to direct immediate implementation of the 22-month minimum wage arrears, rent subsidy at 40% of consolidated annual salary, 15% additional peculiar allowance to make 40%, 50% balance of consolidated salary structure (CONLESS), Hazard Allowance at 5% of consolidated monthly salary, gratuity for every retiring staff and all pending promotion arrears.”