Legislative aides protest over unpaid salary arrears
Legislative aides, yesterday, staged a peaceful protest at the National Assembly complex over non-payment of their salary arrears.
They accused the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Olatunde Ojo, of failure to pay their salary arrears dating back to 2019 and implement Consolidated Legislative Salary Structure (CONLESS). Other grievances include non-payment of minimum wage, duty tour allowances and lack of training and conditions of service.
A drama ensued when the protesters sighted the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabimila, who was on his way to the chamber.
They quickly relocated to the rear entrance into the foyer of the National Assembly as they noticed Gbajabiamila and started chanting solidarity songs. The Speaker made a stopover to hear from the leaders of the protesters.
Mr. Zebis Prince, who represents the South-South geo-political zone of the group, told Gbajabiamila that the aides wanted the Clerk to meet up with their demands.
Chairman of the National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum (NASSLAF), Comrade Salisu Zuru, later presented a statement containing the demands of the workers to the Speaker.
Gbajabimila said: “I believe that every labourer should be paid his wages. We are looking into it. While these things can be protracted, not paying wages of 2019 is inexcusable.
“I will just ask that you be patient. We plead for your understanding. We know there are financial constraints but one thing I know is that this will be resolved amicably and your arrears will be paid.
“We appreciate you for bringing these demands to our attention and we will attend to them accordingly,” Gbajabiamila said.
The workers, in their statement presented to the Speaker, said: “Since the inauguration of this 9th Assembly, salary arrears of some legislative aides have been withheld by the management.
“The issue was the subject of a motion moved on the floor by Bamidele Salam. The matter was referred to House Services Committee headed by Wale Raji with the mandate to, amongst other things, investigate the irregularities in the payment of legislative aides’ salaries.
“After much denial, the Clerk insisted on either the House report or a written authorisation from the Chairman, National Assembly Service Commission before he would pay the salary arrears.”
“Fortunately, that report was debated and adopted on 17th of March, 2021, with the House directing the commission to mandate the Clerk to pay the aides their salary arrears.
“We are disturbed that despite the resolution mandating the Clerk to pay the arrears, three weeks after, the chief accounting officer of the National Assembly has chosen to hold the lawmakers, and by extension the whole institution, to ransom.”