NATIONAL Assembly (NASS), Legislative aides from the two chambers on Wednesday converged on the lobby of the premises and staged a peaceful protest against its management over their salaries arrears and unpaid allowances for months running to over N1.5 billion.
It was gathered that the legislative aides who abandoned their various offices started gathering at the NASS lobby from 8:00am and were chanting solidarity songs to press home their demand of prompt payment of the arrears.
The protest however delayed the resumption of the plenary in the both chambers as the Presiding officers, the President of the Senate and the Speaker delayed their movements for a while for security reasons.
Some of the protesting aides explained to newsmen that they resorted to the protest after failed promises made by the management of the National Assembly to pay up owed salaries and entitlements.
They however warned that their next would be targeted at the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara should the management refused to honour its promises of settling the arrears.
One of the legislative aides who simply identified himself as Kingsley told newsmen that many of his colleagues have endured different forms of hardship.
He also said after over a year of working at the National Assembly, legislative aides had not been sent for training as it used to be.
According to him, “today is the 12th day of the month and our salary has not been paid for the last month. Our entitlements such as transport allowance for five quarters of the year, this is since last year, has not been paid to us. It’s the same for our 28-Day allowance, which has not been paid to most of us. We are entitled to training at least one each quota but till date, we have never been sent for training.
“Nobody has come to address us, nobody has come to speak to us. When we ask they give us excuses from the problem being from management or that person. All we want for our salaries to be paid on time, the same thing for our entitlements, which we are being owed.”
Another of the aggrieved staff, Yusuf Sherrif Modu, accused the management of paying permanent staff and neglecting legislative aides.
He said: “I don’t know why this discrimination exists despite the important roles we play to senators and members of the House of Representatives. Today’s protest is to tell management that enough is enough, next time we storm this place, we will not allow the Speaker and the Senate President to enter the chambers until they address us.”
However, President of the National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum (NASSLAF), Comrade Samule Melaye, who confirmed that some of his members were still being owed salaries and allowances said that he only heard about the protest after it had been held.
According to him, “I am not against what they are protesting about. But there is always the need to follow due process in anything we want to do and I believe that as a stakeholder, I should have been informed about the protest.”
He further explained that the official position of the National Assembly was that soon, payments would be made to cover all monies owed legislative aides.
According to him, “we met with the Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA), Mohammed Sani –Omolori, today and he assured that the arrears would soon be paid in fact, he even swore that not a dime of our entitlements will be left unpaid.
“Considering the fact the he recently resumed as CNA, I want to believe that he will keep to his words and that the payment of salaries will be made up to date, in fact, some people have started receiving alerts for their salary for this month.”
When called, Director Information, National Assembly, Isyiaku Dibal, promised to call back but no response from his end as at the press time.