The plan by aides to members of the National Assembly, under the auspices of the Salary Arrears Affected Legislative Aides, to shut down the federal parliament has forced the management to increases security in and around the complex.
Security was tight at the National Assembly Complex on Monday as the entrances to the central lobby of the ‘White House,’ which houses the chambers, was manned by sergeants-at-arms.
The aggrieved aides had threatened to ground activities at the National Assembly from Monday over alleged non-payment of their salary arrears and allowances in 2019, amounting to N3.1bn.
While the Senate and the House of Representatives do not hold plenary on Monday, the members are expected to sit on Tuesday (today) till Thursday.
It was gathered that personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Services and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps have been deployed in strategic locations to complement the sergeants-at-arms.
The leadership of SAALA, however, in a statement said the protest became necessary to press home their demands.
Coordinator of SAALA, Zebis Prince and five other members of the leadership had issued a statement that they were owed N3.1bn, comprising N1.35bn in salary arrears and N1.75bn for consequential adjustment on minimum wage.
“We will picket the National Assembly Complex, as well as the venue of the training organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies billed for Monday, September 27, to press home our demand for better working conditions,” the statement had read partly.
SAALA claimed that over 1,300 aides are owed salary arrears, while none of the 2,345 legislative aides had received the consequential adjustment on minimum wage since their appointments in June 2019.
SAALA added, “OnTuesday, we shall also picket the National Assembly Complex to draw the world’s attention to the embarrassment going on in the nation’s premier law-making institution.”
However, Chairman of the National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum, Salisu Zuru, had disowned SAALA, describing their planned action as illegal.
Zuru, in a statement on Sunday night, said the group was out to perpetuate illegality.
The statement reads in part, “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.”
The Clerk to the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde Amos, said management had since met with the leadership of the group.
”Efforts were made to offset the arrears,” Ojo said, through his Special Adviser on Media and Labour Matters, Austen Adesoro.
“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,” he said.