By Adeola Badru
Human and vehicular movements were disrupted, as legislative workers under the auspices of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), Oyo State Chapter, on Tuesday, shut all the entrance gates of the state House of Assembly complex in compliance with the directive of the National leadership of the association.
The protest signalled the commencement of an indefinite strike by the workers and the total shut down of the legislative arm.
The protesting workers, dressed in their official uniform, while carrying placards, sang solidarity songs to express their agitation against the continued suppression of the legislative arm of government under the executive arm.
Some of the grievances as expressed on the placards read: “Give us our autonomy. Enough is enough,” “We say no to executive slavery,” “Legislative arm is a separate arm of government,” “AGF, implement Order 10, 2020,” “Legislative financial autonomy is a constitutional right,” among others.
The workers who assembled at the House of Assembly Complex entrance blocked the main entrance with about three vehicles while they sing and dance.
The situation forced a security readjustment at the Oyo State Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan as only one entrance gate was opened. The situation led to initial stress for early birds into the secretariat complex as early as 7:30 AM.
Addressing the protesters, Oyo PASAN Chairman, Yemi Alade, accused the Nigeria Governors’ Forum of being behind the plot of non-implementation of the financial autonomy of the lawmakers.
Alade said: “We are fighting for the non-implementation of our financial autonomy. It is a provisional constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Having observed that with the current emasculation of the legislative arm of government, there can be no true democracy.
“The bill has been passed since 2018, then in May 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari also capped it up with a Presidential Order 10, but, up till now, they are yet to implement it.
“And this is a fundamental provision of the constitution which has been relegated to the background.
“As a staff of the House of Assembly, if there is no true democracy and no independence, it will affect the democracy of the country.
“It is affecting the entire country, not only the staff of the House of Assembly because the principle of separation of power stipulates that each arm of government must act separately and if there is no financial autonomy, all other arms of government would be in slavery to the executive arm.”
“Our grievances are against both the state and federal government. There is a presidential order that mandated them to implement this financial autonomy but the Governors’ Forum is the one behind the non-implementation.
“And we want to know if there is any other law or individual who is greater than the constitution of the country, that is why we had to come out to embark on the strike because, if there could be a presidential order which was not followed, then there is a serious problem in the country.”
In solidarity with the protesters, the Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, who arrived at the venue of the protest at about 11:30 AM said all the lawmakers had earlier been advised to stay away from the complex due to the protest and as such are no surprise.
He appreciated the workers for choosing to take up the fight in the interest of the independence of the legislative arms and deepening of the country’s democracy.
Ogundoyin said: “I want to use this medium to appreciate the PASAN because without you we can’t be a Legislative Arm of Government.
“I know that PASAN remains the landlord of the Legislature Arm of Government and it is our responsibility to build PASAN as well the civil service. We appreciate, encourage and support you in all your endeavours.”
“I know that whatever you fight for is a responsible fight and it’s your right. What you are fighting for can only build the Legislative Arm of Government.
“The lawmakers and I will always support what will bring development to the Legislative Arm of Government as long as you are united.
“I can guarantee you that the autonomy for the State House of Assembly nationwide will be granted by the Governors’ forum.
“We understand the agitation by PASAN across the federation and I can assure you that the speakers’ forum has been working on the autonomy for the States House of Assembly in order for us to achieve this during our tenure.
“We’ve had series of meetings at the conference even with the Governors’ forum, with what’s on ground and the progress we’ve made, we are almost at the finish line.
“Details of the meeting at the ongoing Governors’ forum will be released at the appropriate time. I thank PASAN for the steps taken because it has been long overdue for the Legislative Arm of Government to have its financial autonomy.”
“The only stumbling block is that the Governors’ forum wants to go about the financial autonomy at the same time and same method of implementation.
“No state will go about it in different ways because that will bring about uniformity and once that arises some states will be at an advantage as compared to some other states.
“The general consensus is that we will use one method for all the states and that will bring about rapid development and independent for the States House of Assembly nationwide.”
“The truth about this situation is that now that it has gotten to this point it could have been resolved long before now but it’s unfortunate that the PASAN from the national level to the state have taken a unilateral decision in order to make the strike indefinite until the financial autonomy is approved. The situation is not unique to Oyo State but across the federation.”