Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –By Albert OGRAKA:
Blank NEWS Online can authoritatively disclose that Staff of the Delta State House of Assembly under the aegis of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) have, on Monday, sealed the Assembly complex in protest and chased out legislators over claims of unfulfilled welfare demands and highhandedness by the Speaker, Hon. Monday Ovwigho Igbuya and principal officers of the legislature.
The move which would have marred the official presentation of the of the Delta state 2017 budget to the state House of Assembly by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa last week Thursday was curtailed by failed promises made to the aggrieved staff by the House leadership that their issues were being handled.
Realizing that they were deceived by the Speaker, State Chairman of the association, Comrade Emmanuel Edozien ordered that every entrance to the complex be locked, thereby depriving all lawmakers, including the Speaker of the Assembly access to their offices within the complex.
Blank NEWS Online sources also revealed that a few heady legislators and their aides who were unaware of the protest escaped by the whiskers when some aggrieved staff chased them away with sticks.
Meanwhile, fierce looking security operatives have been stationed at the entrance to the complex to ensure there is no breakdown of law and order and to quell possible uprising from the aggrieved workers. The security agents numbering about 100 were stationed at strategic points at the Assembly complex located along Okpanam Road and prevented anybody from gaining access.
The association whose grievances have remained unaddressed since the administration of the past two speakers, Victor Ochei and Peter Onwusanya, shunned all pleas to give peace a chance and allow the legislators into their offices for the business of the day, even as plenary has resumed.
Comrade Edozien, however listed some of their grievances to include the non payment of imprests, appointment of a substantive Deputy Clerk which has been vacant for over two years, poor funding of the Assembly clinic and payment of death benefits to families of late staff.
He vowed that that members of the association would continue the seige on the Assembly until their demands were met unconditionally.
According to him, “Since February 2016, there has been no single drug in the assembly clinic. They always saying there is no money. This is affecting the staff, as a result we lost two of our staff because of no drug in the clinic. In the past two months, we have lost about four staff.
“What is happening is not good for the system. We said at least, let some drugs be provided, they refused. Again, one doctor cannot service the assembly staff, the lawmakers, their relatives and the assembly commission. So, we need another doctor.
“Appointment of a deputy Clerk is another problem. Since the deputy Clerk retired last year, the vacuum has not been filled. And there is a law passed by the same House for that position. We need a deputy Clerk, who is a staff and not a politician.
“For the outfit and special duty allowances, it is a yearly ritual. It is something that has existed over the years across legislatures all over the country. The House has refused to move our files to the governor. This touches on workers’ welfare, so we will not let it go just like that,” he vowed.
Chairman of PASAN, Comrade Edozie insisted that the protest signalled the commencement of an indefinite strike, saying that the workers will not resume until their demands were met.
Neither the Speaker of the state Assembly, Hon. Monday Igbuya nor his media aide, Mr. Ebireri Henry has reacted to the ugly incident but dependable sources say the Speaker is making frantic efforts to urgently resolve the impasse through the help of the executive, since it could affect the speedy passage of the N270 billion budget proposal for 2017 fiscal year.
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Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –
E.I.C: Albert Eruorhe Ograka