Deji Elumoye and Udora Orizu in Abuja
The management of the National Assembly yesterday beefed up security in and around the Three Arms Zone in Abuja apparently to foil a planned protest by some legislative aides.
The legislative aides, under the auspices of Salary Arrears Affected Legislative Aides (SAALA), had vowed to ground activities at the National Assembly this week, over alleged non-payment of their 2019 salary arrears and allowances in the sum of N3.1 billion.
THISDAY observed increased presence of security personnel including Department of State Services (DSS) personnel and Sergeant-at-Arms, who were seen manning various entrances and exits in the complex.
It was also observed that the doors leading to the foyer at the White House from the Senate and House of Representatives chambers were not only shut, but were guarded by security operatives.
The aides had in a statement yesterday signed by its Coordinator, Mr. Zebis Prince, and five other members, said the protest became necessary to press home their demands.
They claimed they were being owed N3.1 billion, made up of N1.35 billion in salary arrears and N1.75 billion for consequential adjustment on minimum wage.
According to them, while over 1,300 aides were still being owed salary arrears, none of the 2,345 legislative aides has received the consequential adjustment on minimum wage, since their appointments in June, 2019.
They alleged that the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde Amos, had disobeyed a resolution passed by the House of Representatives mandating him to pay the arrears.
The aggrieved aides listed their demands to include: Full payment of salary arrears from June 2019, the implementation of consequential adjustment on minimum wage, restoration of Duty Tour Allowance (DTA), holistic and comprehensive training for all cadres of legislative aides, among others.
“We will picket the National Assembly Complex, as well as the venue of a training organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies (NILDS) billed for Monday, Sept.
27, to press home our demand for better working conditions,” the aides said.
However, the Chairman of the National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum (NASSLAF), Salisu Zuru, disowned the group, describing their planned action as illegal.
Zuru in a yesterday, claimed the group was out to perpetuate illegality.
The statement read in part: “Information reaching me has it that some disgruntled Aides are planning to disturb the peace of NASS.
“I seriously and urgently wish to bring to your attention the likely breach of peace in National Assembly starting from tomorrow being 27th September, 2021 by some disenchanted and egocentric aides whose stock in trade is always confusion. Their grouse is that some of them have not been paid their Salary Arrears.
“Be verily informed that apart from the Protests they want to stage tomorrow, they have concluded plans to disrupt the training being organised by NILDS and which will start on Tuesday after tomorrow.
“These aides are embarking on illegality because none of them is an executive member or Members of CWC of NASSLAF, the body constitutionally empowered to run the affairs of Aides.
“The peace of NASS should not be allowed to be disrupted in the guise of salary arrears.”
On his part, the Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde Amos, said management had since met with the leadership of the group.
Ojo had in reaction yesterday, by his Special Adviser on Media and Labour Matters, Austen Adesoro, stated that efforts were made to offset the salary arrears.
He said: “Management has explained to them categorically, with evidence on the efforts being made to raise funds to pay those of them that the management is owing arrears.
“The Principal Officers are doing their best to ensure that whatever needs to be done is done to ensure the release of the funds from the Ministry of Finance.”