HOUSE of Representatives speaker Hon Femi Gbajabiamila has been barricaded in his office inside the National Assembly complex this morning by legislative aides this morning who are protesting the no-payment of their allowances since 2019.
Despite the fact that Nigerian lawmakers are among the highest paid in the world, legislative aides are very poorly remunerated. To make matters worse, their payments are not regular and they are frequently owed arrears even when senators and members of the House of Representatives receive numerous perks such as wardrobe allowances, new cars, travel allowances, etc.
Nigerian senators in average receive about N13.5m ($35,400) monthly as running costs, while members of the House of Representatives earn about N9.3m ($24,400) monthly. About 3% of Nigeria’s annual budget is spent on the National Assembly with lawmakers receiving jumbo salaries, allowances and perks that dwarf those of wealthy industrialised nations.
In the past, staff association the Conference of National Assembly Legislative Aides (Conassla), has asked the presidency to reveal how much it spends on governance. Conassla, a forum of current and former aides to members of the National Assembly, asked the presidency, finance minister, the minister of budget and national planning and all other cabinet members to disclose to the Nigerian people how much are their running costs.
Back in December 2018, National Assembly staff embarked on industrial action to protest the fact that they had not been paid their salaries and allowances for months. According to the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (Pasan), the National assembly leadership adopted a nonchalant approach to their plight.
At the time, senate president Senator Bukola Saraki and the then speaker of the House of Representatives Hon Yakubu Dogara took legal action against striking workers obtaining an injunction forcing them to call off their industrial action. However, the matter has flared up again today with aides blocking the entrance to Hon Gbajabiamila’s office this morning.
They claim that the speaker has been feigning ignorance of their demands since 2019 when he assumed office. In November last year, the National Assembly Legislative Aides Forum demanded uniform treatment of its members with those of Pasan, arguing that both categories of workers were employees of the National Assembly Service Commission.