Once again, the official aides of Nigerian lawmakers have taken their protests to the National Assembly over unpaid salaries.
The aides, under the aegis of Concerned National Assembly Legislative Aides, allege that N9.6 billion appropriated for the payment is missing.
They are demanding payment of 22 months unpaid salary arrears, minimum wage implementation, duty tour allowance, training and improved condition of service.
On Wednesday, the aides, positioned at the lobby between the two chambers of the National Assembly, chanted that they will not leave until their allowances and arrears are paid.
Speaking on behalf of the group, Zebis Kekung said the two weeks given to the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, to resolve the impasse has elapsed.
Mr Kekung said the aides have it ‘on good authority’ that the fund was released for payment of the outstanding obligations.
“Two weeks ago, we were here to protest the non-payment of our salary arrears. It is so sad and unfortunate that after two weeks and we were addressed by the Speaker (Mr Gbajabiamila) who admitted that it is inexcusable to owe workers wages for 22 months. We have it on good authority that these salary arrears were duly appropriated and released on the first line charge.
“Unfortunately, what the management of the National Assembly is saying that this money is no more there. What happened to the money that was released for this purpose? It is either this money has been embezzled or misappropriated.”
“We don’t know how much was appropriated, but our annual budget is always N9.6billion,” he added.
Failed Gbajabiamila intervention
The aides earlier held a protest on April 13 during which Mr Gbajabiamila promised the protesters that the issues will be resolved.
“We know there are financial constraints but one thing I know is this will be resolved amicably and your arrears will be paid,” he said.
Prior to that Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Mr Gbajabiaimila had met relevant ministries and departments over the issues surrounding the unpaid wages.
Protest by legislative aides has become a perennial issue that keeps occurring. Similar protests were held in 2018 and 2019.
Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) also threatened strike action earlier this month, over entitlements and poor working conditions.