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Non-payment of salary arrears: CNA holding NASS to ransom – Aides



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The Legislative Aides of the 9th National Assembly who are owed salary arrears, but operates under the aegis of ‘Salary Arrears Affected Legislative Aides’, have accused the Clerk to the National Assembly, Arch. Olatunde Amos Ojo of holding the legislature to ransom.

The forum having exhausted all means for arrears of salaries in 2019 to be paid without success, on Monday in Abuja, cried out for the lawmakers in the upper and lower legislative Chambers to intervene, saying, the CNA’s series of infractions and acts of impunity was destructive to the institution.

In a statement which was signed by the Forum’s executives, Tony Omali Esq., and 4 others in Abuja on Monday wondered why the Clerk to the Nahional Assembly reneged on his several promises to pay arrears even when the House resolution directed him to pay arrears without delay.

The statements reads:
“You will all recall, that since the inauguration of this 9th Assembly, salaries arrears of some Legislative Aides were withheld by the management.

“That issue was a subject of a motion moved on the floor by Hon. Bamidele Salam. The matter was referred to House Services Committee headed by Hon. Wale Raji with the mandate to, amongst other things, ‘investigate the irregularities in the payment of Legislative Aides salaries’.

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“After much denial, the CNA insisted on either the House report or a written authorization from the Chairman of the National Assembly Service Commission before he would pay the arrears that had been outstanding since June, 2019.

“Fortunately, that report was laid, debated and adopted on Wednesday 17th March, 2021. The House Resolution expressly directed the Chairman of the Commission to mandate the CNA to pay Aides, their arrears.

“Specifically, we are disturbed that despite an express Legislative resolution mandating the CNA to ensure the payment of this long overdue entitlement, three weeks after, the Chief Accounting Officer of the National Assembly has chosen to hold Honourable members and by extension the whole institution to ransom.

“The continued refusal of the CNA to pay about 2,500 Aides their 2019 salary arrears has created a sharp division between Aides on one hand and the Management on the other.

“As you may be aware, in December, 2020 Aides under the auspices of ‘Salaries Arrears Affected Legislative Aides’ had through a letter dated 13th December, 2020 notified the Commission, the Senate President, the Speaker, Sergeant-at-Arms, DSS and the National Assembly DPO of their intention to commence series of actions to drive home their demands for the payment of their salary arrears.

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“The protest was however suspended after the NASS Director of DSS prevailed on them to stay action.

“The Director has assured the aggrieved Aides that the money would be paid on or before 21st December, 2020.

The CNA as usual failed to keep to his words. On account of this breach, we have set machinery in motion to bring our plight to the attention of all relevant stakeholders and agencies.

“We would like to use this opportunity to express our great displeasure at the miserable and inhuman working conditions of Aides in the National Assembly.

“The disdain, disregard and discrimination meted to Aides need to be looked at. Some of these capricious acts include non-payment of the routine Duty Tour Allowance (DTA), training, non-implementation of national minimum wage and the Consolidated Legislative Aides Salary Structure (CONLESS); benefits that are already being enjoyed by the management staff of NASS and other workers in federal establishment.

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“We are wondering why the money is being withheld by the CNA even after management had long admitted that the funds were available*.

“Let it be on record that having exhausted our patience and internal dispute resolution mechanisms, we have resolved to pursue our grievances using all legitimate tools at our disposal.

“We are embarking on a rally round the precinct of the National Assembly starting from Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Apart from this sensitisation campaign, we also intend to embark on sustained social media campaign, petition relevant agencies and NGOs to look particularly into Legislative Aides account and how it is being administered.

“As a last resort, we may approach the National Industrial Court not necessarily on the vexed arrears alone but on other entitlements that have been denied us.

“We have been pushed to the walls but we have the resolve, resources and documents to pursue these matter to a logical conclusion. We will continue our sensitisation rally for as long as it takes”, the statement concluded.


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