Senate President Bukola Saraki has expressed solidarity with staff of the National Assembly in their protest over the non-payment of outstanding salaries and other entitlements.
“Let me make a commitment on behalf of the entire leadership of the National Assembly that we are on the same side with you.
“It is in our interest to ensure better condition of service, better work environment, and we are fully committed to this.
“We will work together tirelessly to make sure that your demands are met,” Saraki told the protesters on Tuesday.
Our correspondent reports that the workers, under the aegis of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), have raised a number of issues.
They include non-implementation of the Consolidated Legislative Salary Structure (CONLESS), non-payment of promoted officers based on their salary grade levels and non-implementation of their condition of service.
Saraki said although the issues were strictly those of the National Assembly management, the leadership was working hard to resolve the situation.
He said he had summoned a meeting between the leadership and management of the Assembly to ensure that money was sourced immediately to implement the CONLESS.
However, the assurances did little to placate the angry workers, who in unison asked to know when their demands would be met.
Responding, the Senate president said, “We have asked your leadership to give us between now and Friday to call the management of the National Assembly to find a solution.
“As I said earlier, the National Assembly leadership is not in a position to know where and how to immediately get the money; otherwise I have made that commitment.
“What I am committing to you is to send for the Clerk and management of the Assembly that we must find money immediately to implement the CONLESS.”
Saraki noted that the workers were only shooting themselves in the foot by preventing the meeting between the Assembly leadership and management from holding.
The Majority Leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Sen. Ahmed Lawan and Mr Femi Gbajabiamilia, also made similar appeals and assurances at a joint media briefing.
Lawan said both chambers of National Assembly had agreed to pass the condition of service at plenary as from Wednesday.
He noted that it was counterproductive for the workers to shut down the complex or prevent the lawmakers from holding plenary.
“Most of these things we have promised to do can only be achieved if you allow us to work in an environment conducive for interactions among the various stakeholders,” the Senate leader said.
Responding to a reporter’s question which sought to know why it took the leadership this long to act, Lawan explained that the protest was against the management and not the leadership of the Assembly.
He stated that the leadership was only intervening to ensure that the management and PASAN reached a common ground.
On his part, Gbajabiamila spoke in similar vein, noting that it was a management issue, and that lawmakers were intervening to ensure a conducive work environment.