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October 31, 2023

Autonomy: Oyo, Edo, Kano, Ogun, Ondo Assembly workers begin indefinite strike

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By Dayo Johnson, Ozioruva Aliu, Bashir Bello, Adeola Badru & James Ogunnaike

IBADAN—FOLLOWING the expiration of the ultimatum given to the Federal Government by the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN, for the implementation of financial autonomy in legislative houses in the country, PASAN staff in Oyo, Edo, Kano, Ondo and Ogun states, yesterday, commenced an indefinite strike and, consequently, shut gates leading into the Houses of assembly.

The assembly workers in Oyo State, who displayed placards with various inscriptions, to drive home their demands, blocked the entrance of the Assembly.

The industrial action of the legislative staff was as result of the expiration of the ultimatum of the national body of PASAN as well as the peculiar agitations of the state chapter of the union.

The workers, who were led by their chairman, Mr Yemi Alade, are seeking the implementation of financial autonomy for state legislatures, calling on Governor Seyi Makinde to comply with section 121 (3a, 3b and 4a) of the 1999 constitution (as amended).

They also want the implementation of the Consolidated Legislative Salary Structures, CONLESS, for staff of the Assembly and commission.

In a chat with Vanguard, chairman of Oyo PASAN, Mr Alade, said the strike was indefinite and the blocking of gates will continue until their demands are met.

Edo assembly staff protest autonomy

Also, the Edo State House of Assembly complex was shut, yesterday, as the members barricaded the gates to the assembly, thereby denying lawmakers from accessing the chambers.

In a chat with newsmen, Chairman of PASAN in Edo State, Umaru Haruna said the national president of PASAN, Mr Mohammed Usman had directed all chairmen and Secretaries to mobilize her members for maximum compliance in the protest action yesterday.

Haruna said: “The issue of autonomy is a constitutional matter. You know it has been passed by the national Assembly and was assented to by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

“All we need is for the government to start implementation. But as we speak today, nothing has been done. The 36 states Houses of Assembly, you can call them rubber stamps because they are not on their feet simply because they are not on Autonomy. We are not just fighting for the staff of legislators, we are fighting to deepen the dividends of democracy for Nigerians. This is the struggle we are in.”

Parliamentary workers shut down Kano Assembly

Similarly, the PASAN staff in Kano State, yesterday, joined the nationwide strike by shutting down the House of Assembly.

The Chairman of PASAN, Bashir Yahaya, who confirmed the shutting down of the Assembly, said the action became imperative to press home their demands.

Yahaya said: “We have joined the strike as directed by the national president of our association.

“The strike followed the expiration of an ultimatum the union gave to the government to implement financial autonomy for the legislature.

“The union was patient for two years after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Financial Autonomy Act, but state governors have failed to implement it.

“The state Assembly would remain closed until there is a further directive from our national body,” Yahaya said.

Ogun Assembly workers join strike

On its part, members of PASAN in Ogun State, yesterday, joined other Assembly workers to embark on an indefinite strike to press home their demand for the implementation of financial autonomy for the state legislatures.

Its chairman, Ojediran Ayotunde, who led other executives to address the group’s emergency congress at the Assembly complex, Oke-Mosan in Abeokuta, noted that the action was in strict compliance with the directive of the national secretariat.

Ayotunde said: “For us in Ogun State, this strike was targeted at ensuring financial autonomy for state legislatures nationwide.

“Clearly, the non-compliance with the laws has resulted in the non-payment of due salaries and allowances to the three bureaucratic staff of the legislature. As it stands today, the Clerk of the House, his Deputy and the Executive Secretary of the Commission are still being paid the salaries of Directors as against what is spelt out by the extant laws.

“In the previous week, we have communicated this position of ours to the state government in follow up to the laudable efforts of the leadership of the House, the House of Assembly Service Commission and respected elders of thoughts.

“Some months ago, the National Delegate Congress of our union held its meeting in Abuja and a communique was issued and sent to the state with copies sent to necessary stakeholders on the non-payment of the officials’ due salaries, how long shall we continue with this illegality in Ogun State?”

Speaking on the exclusion of the staff members of the state legislature from the 40% peculiar allowance paid to civil servants in the state commencing from August 2023, Ayotunde said: “It is disheartening that as much as we are affected by the adverse effect of the removal of fuel subsidy, such should be extended to members of staff in the House of Assembly and House of Assembly Service Commission. We are seriously affected by the hike in the price of petrol and market commodities.”

Ondo Assembly workers join strike

In Ondo State, PASAN staff joined the nationwide strike over non-implementation of financial autonomy for the state legislatures.

They staged a peaceful walk at the Assembly, displaying placards with various inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs.

“Their chairman of PASAN, Mrs. Omolola Olufemi, said that financial autonomy is crucial to the growth of the legislature adding that the association had given the government enough time to implement the financial autonomy following the suspension of the strike two years ago.”

“She said: “You could recall that the bedrock of parliamentary autonomy hinges on financial independence. Autonomy in this context is simply defined as non-dependence and non-subordination of parliaments about the executive.““The Parliaments should have equitable access to resources”. As such, parliaments by constitutional arrangements are supposed to have enough financial muscle to carry out their legislative mandate, including exercising power over the budget.”“