Workers under the aegis of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), yesterday, grounded legislative activities in House of Assemblies across the country.
PASAN had declared an indefinite strike as a result of the refusal of government to implement financial autonomy for legislature as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
The workers dressed in their association’s robes bored placards with different inscriptions and marched to the Legislature in the early hours. Some of the inscriptions were: “Grant assembly autonomy’’, “Deepen democracy’’, “No autonomy for state assemblies, no legislation in Nigeria’’, “AGF implement Order 10’’, and “Constitution is superior.’’
In Rivers State, National President of PASAN, Usman Muhammed, who was represented by the zonal vice president, Okeleke Luise, said the action was in response to Federal Government’s unwillingness to implement the financial autonomy Act of 2018 and Presidential Order 10, 2020.
Meanwhile, Speakers of the 36 Houses of Assembly are reportedly at the verge of concluding talks with the 36 governors towards achieving financial autonomy for the legislative arm.
Speaker of Oyo Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, made this known, shortly after he addressed legislative workers that shut down all the gates of the Assembly complex.
“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 Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF). 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 have had series of meetings at the Conference of Speakers, even with the Governors’ Forum. With what is on ground and the progress we have made, we are almost at the finishing 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 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 independence for the Houses of Assembly nationwide.
“The truth about this situation is that now that it has got to this point, it could have been resolved long before now. But it is unfortunate that the PASAN from the national level to the states 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.”
Like Oyo, in Gombe, Speaker Abubakar Luggerewo, was denied access into the premises of the assembly.
Muhammad Bello, chairman, Gombe branch of PASAN, said they would not be moved until they see the implementation of financial autonomy.
Speaking to newsmen, the Ogun State Chairman of PASAN, James Obanla, explained that several notices had been issued to government on the need to implement the financial autonomy signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari without any action.
The PASAN chairman who noted that the strike would affect correspondences from the executive arm of government, however, expressed confidence that issue would be resolved quickly. On the benefits of the financial autonomy when fully implemented, he said the autonomy would enhance the business of government and also provide room for separation of power.
Addressing the striking staff, Speaker of the House, Olakunle Oluomo, said governors were not opposed to financial autonomy for legislature, adding that modalities for the implementation remained the major issue. He assured that the issue would be resolved in the next two weeks.
Similarly, workers shut down the Rivers, Plateau and Jigawa Assemblies.
Chairman of the Bauchi State PASAN, Ishaku Gital, reiterated that the assembly would remain closed until a counter directive from the national body was issued.
Jigawa chairman, Umar Kazaure, also vowed that his colleagues would not back down until government responds to their demands.
At the Lagos State House of Assembly, PASAN leader, Mr. Taofiq Adele, defended the industrial action, saying parliaments by constitutional arrangements were supposed to have enough financial muscle to carry out their legislative mandates, including exercising power over budgets.”
At the Imo House of Assembly workers sealed all entrance to the complex, barring staff and legislators from entry.
Mr. Victor Nnadi, the state PASAN chairman said the association had followed due process in making its demands known without success.
Also in Osun, members of the association crippled activities at the assembly complex in Osogbo. Adekunle Akeem, the state PASAN chairman, said: “Until further notice, no work and all offices remain shut.”
In Ekiti, Tope Eyitayo, PASAN national publicity secretary, vowed that the Assembly would remain shut until their demands were met.
Also, the state PASAN chairman, Gbenga Oluwajuyigbe, vowed that until the association’s demands were met, the state assembly would remain shut.
Mr. Umar Adamu, Jigawa chairman told newsmen in Dutse: “All we are demanding is full implementation of the Financial Autonomy Act, condition of service, consolidated salary and allowances structure and 40 instead of 35 years or 65 instead of 60 years retirement age.”
In Sokoto, Ado Abdullahi, who led members of the association to shut down the assembly complex said the action was in compliance with directive from the national body.
“Our members have ran out of patience and have resolved to forthwith put an end to condoning further delays to the implementation of state Houses of Assembly financial autonomy which is for over two years now.”