By Bala Mahdi.
Two months to the end of the 9th Assembly spanned for 48 months, the lingering salary areas and allowances of legislative aides who are members of National Assembly Legislative Staff Forum NASSLAF seems a mirage , even with committed promises from the new Clerk to the National Assembly CNA, Sani Magaji Tambuwal with no obvious reactions.
Two months to the end of the 9th Assembly, with the last quarterly allocation in March after the arears was inculcated into the 2023 budget, payment seems not to be in sight towards the life span of some of the legislative aides that may not be re-engaged by the lawmakers, as some may have lost out owing to the outcome of the 2023 general elections that saw their bosses losing elections to the incoming lawmakers from their various constituencies.
The anxiety been entertained by NASSLAF members in the last four years is finally becoming a reality, as provisions were made in the budgets span from 2019 , but obligations not met by the management and leadership of the National Assembly.
After May 29th, 2023 and subsequent inauguration of the 10th Assembly, it becomes obvious that all agitations would have been overtaken by events, ceding arears of salaries of legislative aides from June 2019 -June 2O23 gone down the drain of non accountable, translucent and corrupt leadership in the anals of Nigeria’s history.
Coincidentally, the agitative body of NASSLAF had met the new CNA, Sani Magaji Tambuwal informally with utterances strictly on non -committed stance, but laced with promisory notes that only time can tell after the exit of the current leadership of the 9th Assembly.
It is on record that the sister body of Parliamentary Staff Association PASAN had enjoyed promises and solutions to their various agitations that boardered on allowances and not salaries that was the right of any civil servants in Nigeria, as NASSLAF’s treatment always came with disdain and lack of attention.
With the current development, except baring last minute decisions, it will go down in the history of the National Assembly, that the 9th Assembly deliberately refused to pay the entitlements of legislative aides ranging from salary arears, DTA, CONLESS, annual increments, except the minimum wage that was been considered and staggered monthly into staffers accounts.
With unending promises from the refusal of management and leadership of the 9th Assembly, refusal to pay the arears running into billions , it will be a disservice and abuse of office, if the trend is sustained without a clear cut decisions in the next two months.
Inspite of appeal by members of NASSLAF to anti -corruption agencies like EFCC, ICPC, Code or Conduct Bureau CCB, it will be a glaring disservice to allow the National Assembly exit with these great anomaly and baggage of corruption in recent times.
Having enjoyed the promises of the new CNA who was feigning commiseration of not settling down for official assignments, it will be explicable when funds are made available for payment before June exit date, and or arears built into the severance packages of various aides affected by the payment of arears of salaries and allowances.
The administrative and professional decisions taken at this crucial time, will nip in the bud,the stigma already created by the leadership and management of the ninth assembly in the current dispensation.
There is no law of the land that tend to deny workers of arears of salaries, except allowances that is always seen as not rights , but privileges.
The ball is now in the courts of NASC as the employer, NASS management and leadership to rewrite history to avoid unmitigated and collosal damages of the public offices in recent times.
For NASSLAF, it had exhausted all avenues both carrot and stick to ensure the national assembly redeemed it’s pledge given ample opportunity.
Bala Mahdi Writes from Maiduguri.