The National Assembly leadership has said it is making frantic efforts to avert the proposed industrial action by workers under the umbrella of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN), which is likely to affect the 2019 budget presentation by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
In a telephone chat on what the National Assembly is doing to avert the proposed strike, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Hon Abdulrazak Namdas, said efforts are already ongoing to prevent the planned strike scheduled today.
“We will appeal to them. We have started reaching out to them. At least every one of them knows that we are following up their matter. We laid their report in the House. It was considered; we invited the Minister of Finance to see why money was not released to pay them their increment and the report is to be presented at the plenary on Tuesday.
“So, if you block us from entering on Tuesday, how do we solve the problem? So, we will consult with them?” He queried.
Namdas added that the lawmakers have been intervening in the matter and are still committed to following through, regretting that should the strike go as planned; it will only complicate the matter.
“What we are appealing for now is for the workers to continue to be very understanding. The budget is to be presented by Wednesday; we all know the possible implication on the entirety of Nigerians, if the document is not presented on that day.
“Our appeal is that since we are still very much on the issue and engaging the critical stakeholders. The workers should reconsider their stand and let the engagement continue for a quick resolution,” he appealed.
However, PASAN chairman, Bature said that the strike action will go on as proposed, saying no member of the National Assembly leadership had called to prevail on them not to proceed on the strike.
“I have not been contacted by anybody as far as the leadership is concerned, so the strike will still continue tomorrow (today) as planned.”
But he assured that unlike the December 4 picketing where they prevented lawmakers from accessing the legislative chambers, the lawmakers will have access to the chambers.
He added that workers have already been mobilised to stay off duty between December 17 and 20.
On whether or not the strike would affect the proposed presentation of the 2019 budget, Bature noted that “It is the members of PASAN who are not working. Our members will not be around to work. They will not work for the legislators and they will not work for the management, and legislators can come. And I am sure the president is not coming to lay the budget before staff, he is coming to lay the budget before the legislators”.
“It may partly affect budget presentation because some of our workers who carry the maze may not be readily available to do that and if that happens, that may impact their sitting arrangements.
“Sitting will be illegitimate as far as we are concerned; so invariably it will affect their activities definitely. Unless if those staff that are the Sergeants-at-Arm want to come,” he said.