Meanwhile, some top officials of the National Assembly bureaucracy have been accused of allegedly withdrawing about N10 billion from the Account of the National Assembly with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The workers, who are demanding the payment of arrears of 28 per cent increase in their salaries since 2010, claimed a memo from the CBN to the management of the National Assembly showed that the amount was available while their allowance of N5.8 billion remained unpaid.
According to the memo, the account, with number: 0020168142065, had a balance of N10,455,891,967.43.
In the November 21 letter addressed to the Clerk of the National Assembly and copied to the Director of Finance and Account, the management was asked to confirm to external auditors the balance in the account within “one week of receipt of this letter.”
The letter signed by the Director of Finance and Director, Banking and Payment System Department of the National Assembly, asked the National Assembly whether the record was in tandem with what was contained therein.
The workers claimed the money had been spent by the leadership of the National Assembly, hence the inability to pay them.
Although the Director of Information in the National Assembly, Mr Rawlings Emmanuel denied the claims, it was, however, learnt that the alleged withdrawal has not gone down well with protesting workers.
Mr Emmanuel in a telephone chat with Daily Sun said: “I don’t have the full details yet. But I can tell you the claim can’t be true. There is no way such a withdrawal will be made and the EFCC will not track it. If the National Assembly has such funds, it will immediately use it to settle all outstanding demands.”
Addressing the protesting workers at the entrance to the complex, one of PASAN leaders, Mr Odo Chris, said neither lawmakers, management staff from Grade Level 14 and above nor visitors would be barred from the complex for the duration of the strike.
“It is the members of the union that will not go and work. Everybody else can go in and do whatever they want to do. As a union, we don’t even have the power to stop Grade 14 officers and above from going in to perform their duties because they are not our members.
“I am appealing to you to be careful and apply wisdom as we carry out this strike because we have a law that guides us. This is not picketing. There should no fighting. There should be no breakdown of law and order.
“Right now, some of us will go in and shut off electricity supply. By the time the environment becomes unbearable for those that are working, they will leave as well. The president can go in and present his budget if the place is conducive enough,” Chris said.
The aggrieved workers, had two weeks ago, shut down the National Assembly, stopping lawmakers from sitting. They blamed the management of the National Assembly for their plight and demanded the removal of the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani Omolori.
Reacting, the All Progressives Congress (APC) described the industrial action as a shameful development and a sad reminder of what Nigerians witnessed under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration.
According to a statement by its spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu, APC said the PDP’s 16-year rule was characterised by such incidences of unpaid salaries, ghost workers and a shocking disdain for workers’ welfare.
“While the minority PDP usurpers who parade themselves as the National Assembly leadership have promptly paid themselves their allowances, National Assembly workers under the umbrella of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) are owed their duly earned 28 per cent increase in their salaries since 2010.
“Perhaps, if the National Assembly leaders have focused on their core legislative business and operations rather than resort to subterfuge with the sole intent of undermining the APC government, the welfare of parliamentary workers would not have been taken for granted.”
The APC called on the Bukola Saraki and Dogara to do the needful by attending to the demands of the parliamentary workers.
“The welfare of workers is a cardinal policy of the APC administration. We, therefore, call on the PDP-led National Assembly to save the country this national embarrassment,” he said.