Legislative aides at the National Assembly on Tuesday welcomed lawmakers back from their annual recess with a protest over alleged non-payment of salaries, Duty Tour Allowances (DTA) and other entitlements.
The protesters, numbering over 50, besieged the chambers’ lobby, carrying placards with different inscriptions and rendered solidarity songs.
The leader of the workers, Mr Nyakmo Etuk, alleged that they were owed two months’ salary arrears, and DTA since the beginning of the 8th Assembly in 2015.
“We have been here for the past three years getting to four years, and have been witnessing issues of delay in payment of salaries.
“Sometimes, it will linger for months. As I talk to you now the last time we received was on Aug. 15, which is very pathetic because that was the eve of the last Sallah celebrations.
“Since then we have not received any salary from August to September, today is Oct. 9, almost the middle of the month.
“We have children, we have mothers, and we have bills to pay, yet we are working here without salaries,” he said.
Etuk said that besides salary, every legislative aide was entitled to DTA, which had not been paid in the last three and a half years.
He said that every time the workers complained the management told them they were working on the matter.
“We have waited, we have calculated this DTA across board, and some on us are being owed up to N1.8 million.
“It is from the DTA we go on errand and do some other miscellaneous things.
“I don’t know what we have done wrong, because the last National Assembly leadership paid us up to date.
“We are not talking about training, lack of which is also an issue here. You can’t expect efficient service from people you have not trained.
“We are supposed to be undergoing four trainings in a year, and ever since we started, we have not had even one,” he added.
While the protest was going on, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, arrived at the complex at 11:09 a.m.
Dogara walked past the protesters, who had gathered around the back entrance through which he entered the lobby, and headed to the chambers waving at them without a word.
Some minutes later, the Senator representing Borno South, Sen. Ali Ndume, arrived and walked into the crowd of protesters, who started hailing him.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said after the crowd had calmed down to hear him out, “you know my nature, I am always with you.”
“So, if you want me to carry this (the placard) and show the world, I will gladly do that.”
He held one of the placards and posed for a photograph with the now jubilant workers, before heading to the Senate chambers.
The workers staged a similar protest in September.