December 18, 2018

Breaking: Tension as Police barricade N/Assembly gate

Breaking: Tension as Police barricade N/Assembly gate

Staff of National Assembly during their four days strike action at National Assembly in Abuja yesterday . Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan

…staff denied entry; PASAN members turn main gate to football pitch

By Levinus Nwabughiogu

ABUJA – Tension is rife within the periphery of the National Assembly especially at the main gate opposite the Federal Secretariat , Abuja as stern looking police men mount guards, preventing staff, journalists and traders from accessing the complex.

Staff of National Assembly during their four days strike action at National Assembly in Abuja yesterday . Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan

Everyone who had made it early to the assembly for either work or business was stopped at the gate.

Our correspondent was not spared as he was stopped at first entrance adjacent the federal secretariat by the police who barricaded the road with their vehicles.

He was eventually redirected to the second entrance close to the building housing the office of the Head of Service of the Federation.

It is not certain who gave the orders but what is known is that National Assembly workers under an umbrella name of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN are on strike declared on Monday to protest a backlog of unpaid allowances and arrears.

Most of the members were seen playing football at the main gate, a development that showed that activities have been paralyzed inside.

Sources said that there is not a single staff inside the building as all the infrastructures such as water and light were shut down by the striking workers.

It is uncertain whether the presentation of the 2019 budget by President Mohammadu Buhari would still hold tomorrow ( Wednesday).

It will be recalled that the president had last week written to the leadership of the National Assembly on the subject matter.

NASS Leadership Directs Police, SSS to Secure Complex for today’s plenary
The leadership of the National Assembly on Monday night had directed the Police and the Directorate of State Securty (DSS) to ensure adequate security within the vicinity of the National Assembly from today’s morning to enable members and staff come in and perform their legitimate duties without any hinderance.

The directive was passed after a meeting of the joint leadership of the two chambers with the management and representatives of the security agencies.

The meeting was called by the political leadership to listen to the management led by the Clerk of the National Assembly (CNA) on efforts made so far to address the grievances of the striking staff.

“The leadership of the National Assembly called the meeting because they know that almost all the issues raised by the striking workers were being addressed by the management. And after listening to the CNA, it was unanimously agreed that the management had made sufficient plans and efforts to address all the grievances of the workers and ensure their happiness.

“We were sure that the issues raised by the workers have been well attended to and that it is necessary for the business of the National Assembly to continue without any disturbance. Both chambers must hold their normal plenary tomorrow morning to prepare the ground for the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 to present the budget proposal to the joint sitting of the Senate and the House of Representives.

“We have therefore mandated the security agencies to perform their duty of maintaining law and order in the National Assembly Complex and its surrounding. They must enforce the laws which allow the striking workers to down tools if they choose to and also the ones which restrain them from disturbing those who choose to work or stop parliamentarians from entering the chambers or their offices to do the work for which they were elected.

“Senators and members of the House of Representives, their aides, other workers and people who have legitimate business within the National Assembly Complex are therefore advised to come in as they will be free to operate without any hinderance and molestation.

“If the President Buhari is unable to present the budget proposal on Wednesday as scheduled Nigerians should hold the security agencies responsible for failing in their the performance of their duties”, the leadership of the federal legislature stated.