Reps react as shutdown looms a day to budget presentation

The ongoing strike of legislative workers is having an effect on activities at the national assembly.

Although the police prevented the aggrieved workers from gaining access into plenary on Tuesday, many lawmakers were absent when the day’s proceeding began.

The staff are protesting their withheld entitlement including consolidated salary increments and allowances said to be owed since 2010.

Only 16 members of the house of representatives began plenary, against the provisions of the 1999 constitution.

According to the constitution, the house must form a quorum – which is one-third of the 360 members – before plenary can hold.

But when plenary started around 12:11am – more than one hour after official time for resumption – TheCable observed that only 16 lawmakers were on ground, 104 less than the required quorum: 120.

ILLEGAL SITTING?

Section 54(3) of the constitution states: “If objection is taken by any member of the Senate or the House of Representatives present that there are present in the House of which he is a member (besides the person presiding fewer than one-third of all the members of that House and that it is not competent for the House to transact business, and after such interval as may be prescribed in the rules of procedure of the House, the person presiding ascertains that the number of members present is still less than one-third of all the members of the House he shall adjourn the House.”

As of when this report was filed, 25 more lawmakers had joined their colleagues who commenced proceedings, putting the attendance at 41, still far less than the quorum.

WORRIES OVER LIKELY SHUTDOWN

When the sitting started, Femi Gbajabiamila, majority leader of the house, denied reports that the national assembly leadership is responsible for the workers’ grievances.

“Their strike has nothing to do with the legislative arm of the leadership. It has to do with the national assembly management,” he said.

“And it is illegal to stop members of the national assembly from coming to work. And that even attracts very serious sanctions. So we are appealing to them as well; they are not only shutting down the national assembly but by extension, they are shutting down the nation no matter how good their intentions are.”

Nicholas Ossai from Delta state also called on the staff to end the protest.

“We are appealing on the workers to see reason to stop the strike and to appeal to the leadership of the chambers to liase properly with them,” he said.

Thereafter, Yusuf Lasun, deputy speaker of the house who is presiding over the session, said the national assembly leadership has been making effort to avert a shutdown of legislative proceedings.

“We are doing our best to address the issue. The legislative arm is the face of democracy and no attempt should be made to shut it down,” he said.

The lawmakers also moved a motion admitting President Muhammadu Buhari to address a joint session of the national assembly during the 2019 budget presentation on Wednesday.Read More

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