By Levinus Nwabughiogu and Henry Umoru
The formal laying of the 2019 Appropriation Bill by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday before a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives may not hold as the staff of the institution will tomorrow (Monday) embark on a four-day warning strike.
Members of the House of Representatives had also threatened to boycott the presentation, same day, if the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, refuses to tender public apology over the comments he reportedly made describing the lawmakers as unwilling to receive the document.
The President had written the leadership of the National Assembly, asking to present the budget estimate before a joint session on Wednesday.
But a notice of the strike action, dated December 14, 2018 and addressed to the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, and copied to the clerk of the National Assembly and Secretary, National Assembly Service Commission, stated that the action will commence on Monday and last through Thursday.
The workers, under the umbrella name of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), are demanding the payment of their allowances.
They had recently, through a protest, shut down the Assembly Complex and prevented the Senate and the House from carrying out their functions.
The latest notice was signed by the Chairman, Comrade Musa Bature Mohammed, and the Secretary, Comrade Suileman Haruna.
Titled: ‘Notification of a Four-Day Warning Strike’, the notice read: “Sequel to our notice of strike as contained in the communiqué dated 29th of November, 2018, the Congress of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), National Assembly Chapter, unanimously resolved at it’s emergency Congress held on 4th of December, 2018, to embark on a 4-day warning strike, commencing from Monday, 17th-20th December, 2018
“By this notice, be kindly informed that the entire members of PASAN shall stay off their respective duties on the above mentioned dates”.
Reacting to the notice when contacted, the spokesman for the House of Representatives, Hon. Abdurazak Namdas, pleaded with the workers not to down tools.
Namdas said the leadership of the House was looking into the workers’ complaints hoping they will be resolved soon.
“We are intervening and we are still on the matter. We even invited and interacted with the Minister of Finance, yesterday (Friday) and the interaction was to know why the money that was supposed to be released to the workers was not released”, he said.
“That is to show the extent we are willing to go for the workers to get their dues.
“What we are appealing for now is for the workers to continue to be understanding. The budget is to be presented by Wednesday, we all know the possible implication on Nigerians, if the document is not presented on that day.
“Our appeal is that since we are still very much on the issue and engaging the critical stakeholders, the workers should reconsider their stand and let the engagement continue for a quick resolution”.