- Vow to shutdown NASS Complex
Legislative aides of Senators and members of the House of Representatives, who served in the 7th Assembly, yesterday protested the non-payment of their severance gratuities and Duty Tour Allowances, DTA, totaling N7billion at the central lobby of the National Assembly, NASS.
The aides, numbering over 2,500, had after about two hours meeting at the Hearing Room 1 of the House of Representatives, stormed the central lobby of the complex to express their annoyance over the refusal of the management to pay them their entitlements.
They threatened to shut down the NASS Complex to administrative and legislative businesses in the nearest future if their demand of urgent payment of the allowances is not met on time.
A detachment of policemen from NASS Division, however, took over the whole arena, immediately they got wind of the protest and prevented leaders of the legislative aides from briefing the press on the detailed outcome of their meeting.
Rather, the police team, along with other senior security officers of the National Assembly, allowed them to send representatives to the office of the Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly to register their grievances.
Some of the legislative aides who later spoke to Nigerian Pilot, explained that their aborted protest was a fallout of the refusal of the NASS management to pay all the 2, 500 legislative aides that served in the 7th Assembly, their severance gratuities and Duty Tour Allowances which ranges from N1.5 to N3m per aide, depending on grade levels and steps.
The aides, who spoke under condition of anonymity, alleged that based on information at their disposal, the N7billion meant for the payment had been released to management of the National Assembly by the Federal Ministry of Finance last month without any sign of readiness for payment from them.
“Our protest is all about prolonged delay we are seeing in the payment of our severance allowances by the management of National Assembly, several weeks after payment of similar allowances to all the 469 federal legislators who served in the 7th Assembly.
“We believe that the protest, though aborted, has sent the needed message to them that we are ready for showdown with them anytime from now if we are not paid the money in this first week of this September”, they said.
But in an internal circular later issued from the office of the Director, Personnel Management of the National Assembly, the management said the money was not yet released from the Ministry of Finance as claimed by the aggrieved aides.
The circular was issued by the Acting Director, M. A. Abubakar, on behalf of the Clerk to the National Assembly, Salisu Maikasuwa.
It reads: “I am directed to inform all Legislative Aides to exercise more patience regarding their payment of severance gratuity and duty tour allowances as the management is making assiduous efforts to get the monies released from the Ministry of Finance.
“I also urge you to maintain the existing good working relationship between National Assembly Management and the Legislative Aides for an enduring welfare of the staff. I wish to assure you that as soon as the monies are released, payment will commence without delay as all preparations have been concluded.”