The National Assembly Chapter of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) is holding an emergency Congress today, Monday 12, in Abuja.
The Congress which comes on the heels of recent agitations for better welfare by members is expected to review the outcome of a recent meeting between PASAN executives and the management of the National Assembly.
Speaking to THE WHISTLER , Public Relations Officer of PASAN, Amos Ekpeyong, said “we are having our congress to discuss the position of the Clerk of the National Assembly, Ojo Olatunde, on issues of welfare affecting our members.”
PASAN had in recent time given a range of ultimatum beginning with 21 days, 14 days and 7 days to the management of the National Assembly to implement the new federal minimum wage and to effect the Consolidated Legislative Staff Salary Structure (COLASS) for staff.
“Following the outcome of today’s Congress, we may shut down the National Assembly on Wednesday (April 14) if the Clerk, Ojo Olatunde, refuses to cede to our demands).”
The group is also asking for payment of backlogs of minimum wage arrears owed staff, arrears for staff conversion, and payment of promotion arrears to members.
Some members of PASAN who spoke to THE WHISTLER on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media said that “the current management under the CNA has maintained an illegal policy where staff are denied training and re-trainings meant to build capacity. And the few who are picked for trainings are forced to indulge in local trainings with funds appropriated for oversea trainings allegedly embezzled by the CNA and Principal Officers of the National Assembly.”
Sources further disclosed that “while the leadership of both chambers of the National Assembly, the National Assembly Service Commission and the Ministry of Finance all agree that appropriate sums have been captured in the 2020 budget of the National Assembly, to allow for a 40 per cent increment in staff salary, the CNA insists otherwise.”
This is as the Clerk is accused of refusing to implement the Consolidated Legislative Staff Salary (COLASS) targeted at ensuring better working conditions for Legislative Staff.
Other grievances include the refusal of the Clerk to approve for payment, hazard allowances for legislative staff.
According to sources, “the Clerk’s highhandedness is backed by the management of the legislature which recently slashed funds meant for staff welfare by more than N 2bn.”
The Presidency had earlier earmarked N 15, 967,404, 815 for the staff and management in the 2020 budget.
This appropriation was however increased to N 16, 376, 055, 295 to cater for staff welfare, and was duly assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The staff however lamented that the clerk working in conjunction with the leadership of both chambers announced receipt of only N 14bn, a shortfall of more than N2bn from the Ministry of Finance.
The ongoing crisis, sources say, is a ploy by the leadership of both chambers to compensate the Clerk whose retirement from Service was illegally extended beyond February 2020.
The leadership of the legislature is alleged to use the CNA as a conduit through which principal officers of the 9th Assembly siphon and embezzled funds meant for staff welfare.
“Even the N 389,354,934 captured in the “Service -Wide Vote is meant to line the pockets of the principal officers.
That’s why they turn blind eyes to the corruption of the Clerk,” our source instated.
But the management of the National Assembly has remained mute to the allegations, insisting that it would comment on the issue at the right time.