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Parliamentary Workers Shut Down State Assemblies

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As exclusively reported by OURTIMES, parliamentary workers in the country under the auspices of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) yesterday disrupted legislative proceedings in state Houses of Assembly in a nationwide protest against non-implementation of financial autonomy for state legislatures.

The protesting workers insisted that it was either financial autonomy for the state assemblies or nothing.

This paper had on Monday reported PASAN would shut down the National Assembly and the state Houses of Assembly in the 36 states of the federation.

The union had last week issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government to either implement the two-year-old Executive Order 10 or face a total shutdown of the legislative arm of government across all tiers of government.

President of the union, Mohammed Usman, who had exclusively confirmed this on phone to our correspondent said the were embarking on the industrial action because none of their demands had been met.

The financial autonomy Bill for the state legislature and judiciary, which places state assemblies and judiciary on the first line charge, was passed by the National Assembly and subsequently assented by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2020 also issued Executive Order 10 making it mandatory that all states of the federation should include the allocations of both the Legislature and the Judiciary in their Appropriation Laws.

Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN), said a presidential implementation committee was constituted to fashion out strategies and modalities for the implementation of financial autonomy for the state legislature and state judiciary in compliance with section 121(3) of the Constitution.

But the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) had opposed the implementation of the Executive Order 10, citing constitutional reasons, a development that led to the suspension of the order by the president.

Consequently, PASAN has been at the forefront of calling for the implementation of the state legislature autonomy law.

To this effect, the national chairman of PASAN, Comrade Muhammad, directed all parliamentary staff in Nigeria to embark on strike indefinitely commencing Tuesday.

OURTIMES reports that most of the state assemblies across the country were shut down while only few, including Kaduna and Kwara State Houses of Assembly sat for legislative business.

Also, the National Assembly chapter of PASAN said it decided not to join the ongoing nationwide strike by the national body because it has its peculiar demands, which are currently being looked into by the leadership of the National Assembly.

Kano State chapter of the association revealed why it joined the nationwide strike, maintaining that its actions has succeeded in grounding legislative activities to a standstill at the Kano State House of Assembly.

Our correspondent reported that there was no access to the assembly complex as every path was blocked by the PASAN members, who were protesting the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the state legislatures by the state governors.

Speaking with journalists on the development in Kano, the state chairman of PASAN, Ubale Yusuf, said the strike had just begun.

According to him, the indefinite strike was aimed at shutting down the national and state assemblies over the non-implementation of financial autonomy by state governors.

In Nasarawa State, PASAN chairman, Comrade Danlami Dauda, while addressing the parliamentary workers in Lafia, insisted that the gate to the State House of Assembly would remained locked until their demands were addressed.

The workers displayed placards with inscriptions such as, “No Autonomy, No Work”, “Governors Respect Separation of Power and the Rule of Law” and “Financial Autonomy is Non-Negotiable,” among others.

For his part, the national treasurer of the association, Comrade Umar Yusuf, who was deployed to the state to ensure total compliance with the strike directive, called on the workers to be resolute and united as their demands were legitimate.

The clerk of the State House of Assembly, Mr Ego Maikeffi, who arrived for the day’s business was chased away by the protesting workers.

The story is not different is Jigawa State as the House of Assembly was shut down by the PASAN members.

Speaking with journalists, the chairman of PASAN, Jigawa chapter, Comrade Umar Kazaure, also said they joined the nationwide indefinite strike as directed by their mother union to protest the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the state assemblies.

”It is quite unfortunate that it’s now almost two years since after President Muhammadu Buhari signed the legislature financial autonomy Bill but state governors appear to be demonstrating lackadaisical attitude toward implementing the law.

“The failure of governors to allow full implementation of the law is creating a stumbling block in entrenching the tenets of democracy in Nigeria which include separation of power,” Kazaure said.

But in his reaction to the industrial action, chairman of the Jigawa State Assembly Service Commission, Hon Lawan Muhammad Dansure, said the the state’s parliamentary workers had the right to join the strike in solidarity with their mother union but not because they have any issue.

In Yobe, the State House of Assembly complex gates were baricaded by the assembly workers.

OURTIMES learnt that the protest in Damaturu truncated a scheduled meeting by Speaker of the House, Hon. Mirwa, with the leadership of the House of Assembly.

Speaking with journalists, chairman of PASAN, Yobe State chapter, Comrade Zanna Ali, said, “We took this action because we want the federal government to implement financial autonomy. We joined the strike because it is a nationwide strike, we want our demands met, the financial autonomy is constitutional.

“It’s almost two years since the president assented to the Bill and we are yet to see anything. There will be no sitting today (Tuesday) because we locked the chamber, there’s no sitting today,” he added.

Also, protesting parliamentary workers locked up the main gate of the Borno State House of Assembly over non-non-implementation of financial autonomy for the state assembly by the state government.

Speaking with journalists at the frontage of the assembly where the workers mounted sentry to ensure that activities of the House was paralysed, the North-East zonal vice president, PASAN, Mr Shettima Garba, said the lack of independence of the legislature was robbing the masses of what they should have benefited from the legislature through oversight functions.

Reacting to the development, the chairman of Borno State House of Assembly Service Commission, Hon. Audu Miringa, urged the state government to look into the legitimate demands of the striking parliamentary workers.

In Rivers State, members picketed the House of Assembly complex in Port Harcourt, over the non-implementation of financial autonomy as provided for in section 121 (3) of the Constitution and the subsequent Executive Order 10, 2020.

Addressing the protesters, NLC chairperson in the state, Comrade Beatrice Itubo, described the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) as a group that is not recognised by the country’s constitution.

Itubo wondered why the governors chose to implement laws that will favour them and ignore those that do not favour them.

In Osun State, the parliamentary workers’ chairman, Mr Adesina Adekunle, said the strike was in compliance with national body’s directive to compel the state government to implement the Executive Order 10 signed by President Muhammad Buhari last year.

The PASAN members, who barricaded the entrance of the Osun State House of Assembly, held placards with inscriptions such as “Autonomy: No Going Back”, “Financial Separation Means Separation of Power” and “Service for Democracy,” amongst others.

Chairman of the Taraba State chapter of the union, Ibrahim Yusuf, told journalists in Jalingo that the strike action was a directive of the National Working Committee (NWC) of PASAN.

According to him, PASAN is demanding for the implementation of the autonomy of the state assemblies which has been granted Presidential Order 10 since 2020.

He said the industrial action was not confrontational, pointing out that the legislators were not being disturbed at all.

He added that the action was an indefinite one because PASAN had earlier given a 21-day ultimatum which lasted without any fruitful result.

“The call was to the Conference of Speakers, National Assembly members and the Governors’ Forum to have a rethink and do the needful,” Yusuf said.

OURTIMES observed that the gate of the Taraba State House of Assembly in Jalingo was under lock and key.

Efforts to get the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Joseph Albasu Kunini, for comment, proved abortive as he declined to speak with pur reporter.

In Ekiti State, the chapter paralysed all activities at the state House of Assembly as its members demanded the implementation of the state legislature’s autonomy.

Addressing protesters at the assembly complex, PASAN national publicity secretary, Tope Eyitayo, vowed that the State Houses of Assembly would remain shut until their demands are met.

Eyitayo recalled that President Buhari had signed into law, financial autonomy for the legislature Bill on May 23, 2020 through apart from signing and Executive Orde 10 to fasttrack the matter.

Also, Ekiti State chapter chairman of PASAN, Mr Gbenga Oluwajuyigbe, who spoke in the same vein, said that until the association’s demands are met, activities at the state assembly would remain paralysed.

In neighbouring Ondo State, parliamentary workers shut down the State House Assembly complex in Akure, while protesting the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the legislative arm of the state government.

The workers, who defied the morning rains to embark on the protest, carried placards with different inscriptions as they rendered solidarity songs while they locked the main gate of the assembly complex.

Speaking with journalists, the state chapter chairman of PASAN, Comrade Raphael Urona, said the peaceful protest was in line with the directive from the national headquarters of the association.

Urona further stated that the protest was to press home their demand for the implementation of the agitations of financial autonomy for state legislatures in the country.

Men of the Nigeria Police, NSCDC, FRSC were on the ground to ensure the protest was peaceful and not hijacked by hoodlums.

Similarly, PASAN members at the Benue State House of Assembly yesterday shut down the assembly complex in protest against what they called non-implementation of financial autonomy for the state legislature.

The protesters carried green leaves and placards with inscriptions such as, “No Financial Autonomy, No Legislation”, “Implement Executive Order Now” and “End Selective Implementation of Rule of Law”, among others.

They also stopped the speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Titus Uba and other principal officers from gaining access into their offices.

Our correspondent sighted four truck-loads of armed policemen stationed at the main entrance of the assembly complex apparently to forestall a breakdown of law and order.

Leader of the protesters and PASAN chairman in the state, Mr. Francis Adole, said they decided to down tools due to the inability of the state government to implement the presidential executive order 10 to ensure enforcement of the constitutional provision granting

autonomy to the state legislature as contained in Dection 121 (3) of the Constitution (as amended).

Mr. Adole also presented the demands of PASAN to the Speaker for onward presentation to President Buhari through Governor Samuel Ortom.

Responding, the Speaker, Uba, commended parliamentary workers for the matured manner they exercised their civic rights.

In Oyo State, House of Assembly workers also joined the indefinite nationwide strike.

The PASAN members, who shut down all the gates leading to Oyo Assembly complex, displayed different placards showing their displeasure on the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the legislative arm of state government across the country.

Presenting the communique from the national body to the speaker of the state assembly, the Oyo state chapter chairman of PASAN, Comrade Yemi Alade, wondered why the implementation has not commenced.

In Kogi State, the speaker of the house of assembly, Matthew Kolawole, appealed to the PASAN members to remain calm as the issues at stake were already being handled at the highest level.

He made the appeal in a press statement signed by his chief press Secretary, Femi Olugbemi, a copy of which was made available to journalists in Lokoja.

He said though the parliamentary workers association was exercising its constitutional right of embarking on industrial action anytime it feels aggrieved, Kolawole enjoined them to see reasons with the authorities as the issue will soon be resolved.

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