Members of the Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, PASAN, in no fewer than 15 states across the federation, on Monday, shut down their respective state Houses of Assembly and began a nationwide industrial action following the expiration of the ultimatum for the implementation of financial autonomy by state Assemblies in the country.
The gate of the Edo State House of Assembly was shut on Monday, snowballing into a protest, while the lawmakers were denied access.
The Chairman, PASAN, Edo State chapter, Umaru Haruna, said the National President of the association, Mohammed Usman, had directed all chairmen and secretaries to mobilise members for maximum compliance.
He said, “The issue of autonomy is a constitutional matter. You know it has been passed by the National Assembly and was assented to by the immediate-past President Muhammadu Buhari.
“All we need is for the government to start implementation. But as we speak today, nothing has been done. The 36 states of Houses of Assembly – you can call them rubber stamps – they can’t stand on their feet simply because they are not autonomous.”
In Abia State, PASAN members barricaded the entrance to the state House of Assembly in compliance with the national body’s directive to down tools.
Abia PASAN Chairman, Mr Sunday Kalu, told newsmen that the action was in compliance with the directive by the union’s national leadership.
In Sokoto State, PASAN members shut down the Assembly complex. Their chairman, Mr Abubakar Yusuf, while addressing newsmen, explained that the strike was an extension of their ongoing struggle that began in 2020.
In Nasarawa State, PASAN chairman, Mr Suleiman Oshafu, said, “We are here today to embark on strike over financial autonomy for the state Houses of Assembly, as financial autonomy will promote accountability, transparency and good governance in the country.”
Similarly, in Kano State, members of PASAN shut down the Assembly, with their chairman, Mallam Bashir Yahaya, saying, “Yes, we have joined the strike as directed by the national president of our association.”
In Delta State, our correspondent observed that the entrance and exit gates of the state House of Assembly were under lock and key on Monday.
The Chairman, PASAN, Delta State chapter, Mr Edozie Emmanuel, called for full implementation of financial autonomy in the state.
He said, “It is a national strike. Delta State was one the states that had approved and domesticated (the financial autonomy law) but no full implementation.”
In Ogun State, members of the state chapter of PASAN also joined their counterparts in other states to down tools.
The Chairman of the state chapter, Ojediran Ayotunde, said, “For us in Ogun State, this strike was cumulatively targeted at ensuring financial autonomy for state legislatures nationwide, in compliance with Section 10(2), 13 and 14 of the Statutory Offices (State Emoluments) Amendment Law, 2018; and the State Assembly Service Commission Law, 2018, likewise the payment of additional 40 per cent Peculiar Allowance to legislative staff.”
In Benue State, PASAN Chairman, Aondona Dajoh, who addressed members, said financial autonomy for state legislatures had become a constitutional matter that should be complied with.
In Ondo State, PASAN members also shut the Assembly complex and staged a protest to drive home their demands for financial autonomy.
The Ondo State Chairman of PASAN, Mrs Omolola Olufemi, said, “You could recall that the bedrock of parliamentary autonomy hinges on financial independence. Autonomy in this context is simply defined as non-dependence and non-subordination of parliaments in relation to the executive.”
In Anambra State, PASAN members shut all the gates leading to the state House of Assembly, with the striking workers preventing lawmakers from gaining entrance into the legislative chambers.
The Chairman, PASAN, Anambra State chapter, Abraham Okoye, who spoke to our correspondent, said, “We shut down the state Assembly because we are demanding financial autonomy. What we are agitating for is the implementation of Section 121 of the Constitution which granted autonomy to the state Houses of Assembly, and it is a national strike.”
In Zamfara State, the spokesperson for the state House of Assembly, Bello Madaro, said the members of the Assembly had boycotted legislative activities pending the time when financial autonomy would be granted to state Assemblies in the country.
Madaro said, “The members of the state House of Assembly have boycotted legislative activities and did not report to work today.”
In Kaduna State, PASAN members halted activities at the state House of Assembly.
The state Chairman of PASAN, Abdulrasheed Abarshi, said, “We are here today to embark on an indefinite strike over the financial autonomy of state Houses of Assemblies.”
The situation was the same in Bayelsa, where legislative workers blocked the Assembly gate and chanted solidarity songs.
In Katsina State, PASAN members also shut the main entrance of the Assembly complex to join the nationwide strike.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State chapter of PASAN said it joined the industrial action in solidarity with other state chapters because “an injury to one is an injury to all.”
The outgoing chapter Chairman, PASAN, Lagos State chapter, and South-West Zonal Deputy President of PASAN, Taofiq Adele, in a text message reply to one of our correspondents’ inquiry, noted that the Lagos State House of Assembly was already benefitting from financial autonomy.
“In actual fact, the Lagos State House of Assembly has been benefitting from financial autonomy, but we joined the strike to solidarise with other states being a PASAN family because an injury to one is an injury to all.”
In Osun State, PASAN chairman, Akeem Adesina, said workers in Osun State House of Assembly would shut down activities in the House on Tuesday (today).
He said, “We will comply on Tuesday. We have done the needful. I’ve informed all that needed to know about the latest happenings. I’ve informed the State Security Service, the Commissioner of Police, Mr Speaker, and the governor. We have informed everybody.”
However, workers of the Kwara State House of Assembly said they had not joined the nationwide strike embarked on by PASAN.
The Director of Information, Kwara State House of Assembly, Funsho Abdulqadir, said, “We are aware that there’s going to be industrial action, but we in Kwara State are not on strike. You can see us at our duty posts performing our duties. I can tell you that we are not on strike in Kwara State.”
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.