Protesting members of staff of the National Assembly (NASS) yesterday shut down the two chambers of legislative complex over the non-payment of their salaries and three-year allowances.
The employees, who organised the protest under the aegis of the Parliamentary Staff Association (PASAN), said that it was done to draw public attention to their ill treatment by the management of NASS.
The workers lamented that the NASS management had remained indifferent to their plight as the unpaid allowances run into several millions of naira.
Describing the situation as no longer tolerable, the workers in their large numbers, converged at the lobby of the NASS complex yesterday morning with placards bearing various inscriptions and sealed off the chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
They sang solidarity songs, and occasionally screamed “Sani-Omolori must Goooooooo.”
When the deputy Senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, attempted to address the aggrieved workers, he was rebuffed as they shouted “Noooooooo!”, “No alert, No work”, “Omolori Must Gooooo”.
The protesters also turned down entreaties by operatives of the Nigeria Police Force, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Sergeant-at Arms, who were deployed in the scene to stop the demonstration.
The workers alleged that the management of the National Assembly owed them allowances for over three years, adding that they had not undergone any training for over eight years.
In an interaction with journalists, an official of PASAN, Mrs. Vivian Ozolua, who was flanked by the aggrieved workers, said that the NASS management had not paid their allowances in the past three years and vowed that there would be no plenary session again in both chambers untiltheir grievances were addressed.
The workers demanded the resignation of the clerk to the National Assembly, Alhaji Ataba Sani-Omolori, who they accused of highhandedness and corruption.
LEADERSHIP recalls that last October, members of Legislative Aides Forum of the National Assembly held a similar protest which crippled activities at the complex over unpaid salaries and allowances amounting to N8billion.
As the protest entered the sixth hour, the Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, arrived in the scene to plead with the workers
As soon as they sighted Saraki, the atmosphere became charged with shouts of “No alert, no sitting.”
Saraki promised them that he would work with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, to address the situation, adding that “we have accepted responsibility for the non- payment of the allowances and those issues that formed your grievances.
“As the president of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, we accept responsibility for the non-payment of part of your allowances. We will find money anywhere to pay you, but you should give us time to do that.
“Please give us time between now and Friday this week so that the leadership could sit with the NASS management over this issue,” he said.
This did not go down well with the protesters who insisted that the upper and lower chambers would close until they all got alert confirming payment.