By Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Mr. Mohammed Sani-Omolori, has blamed the picketing of the National Assembly by members of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) on the non-release of the 2018 budget.
Omolori, who spoke with National Assembly media correspondents in the heat of the Tuesday protest, said it is not in the powers of the legislative arm to facilitate the payment the workers are agitating for.
PASAN made good its threat to picket the National Assembly for the non-payment of outstanding salaries and allowances of its members by sealing off the Senate, House of Representative chambers and sending lawmakers back when they arrived for legislative duties on Tuesday.
Reacting to the development, Omolori said: “I still insist that they need to be a bit patient with the system. Like I said in my reply to them, in an unprecedented manner, the presiding officers acceded, without hesitation to their requests for this increment. It was bargained with them and they captured it in the budget.
“So, how is it in their (lawmakers) powers, if the money is not released? And in any case, the reality on the ground is that it is not only the National Assembly that is suffering from non-release of funds. That is the reality of the Nigerian situation. So, I think we all have to be patient.”
According to him, “It is a matter that has been on for some time now and we have tried to explain to them; we approved salary increase for them which was captured in 2018 budget but as it is today, it is a common knowledge that the level of implementation of the 2018 budget, especially the new addition to the National Assembly, which has not been implemented – that is where we had hoped that the addition would be paid.
“So, to the extent that the money has not been released there is no way we can make the payment.
“We told them it is wrong and we tried to prevail on them to try to see through things in the correct way. As a matter of fact, I wrote a letter to them and I also had series of formal and informal consultations with their leadership up till yesterday (Monday) to make them back out of what is clearly an act that is not in tune with their own rules.”
Asked if he was worried by the action of the workers, Omolori said: “I am worried that in an institution that you think people should be able to look at things properly and then they are not looking at it, that is why I am worried.”