As a result of their refusal to pay the salaries owed to about 250 legislative assistants who worked for the 9th National Assembly before the end of their terms, some aides to the immediate past president of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, the immediate past speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, and the clerk of the National Assembly, Sani Mogaji Tambuwal, have endured untold hardship and great suffering.
Despite public outcry, the trio withheld the salaries of these aides for about 15 months out of the periods they served their principals in the ninth National Assembly.
Sources said the failure to pay the salaries of the aides is not unconnected to the alleged disappearance of over N478m salary arrears which has denied them their entitlement
The affected Legislative Aides, led by Abdul-hamid Mahmud during a media briefing in Abuja Sunday said before the tenure expired last May, they were assured of payment, just as they had hoped that these backlog of arrears would be paid to cushion their sufferings, but their hope was totally dashed.
“Why we endured to stay this long is because of the promise made by the former Senate President and Speaker, who is now the Chief of Staff to the President, that the Ministry of Finance was responsible for the delay in the backlog of the salary arrears and that immediately they get funding from the then Finance Minister, Mrs. Zanaib Ahmed, the arrears will be paid, Mahmud said.
“We have become beggars; from fare to food, we ask relatives and friends to get by. We are dying of hunger, serving our fatherland should not be an exchange for suffering while some individuals live large on our sweat, we groan in hardship.
“We were earlier told that the payment was captured in the Supplementary budget 2022, later another information by the then Clerk of the National Assembly, Arch. Ojo Amos Olatunde, said the National Assembly had passed the virement request of the President along with the national budget and that the money will be paid. We are over a year to this prevarication and another administration is in place but, we are yet to receive a dime, “ Mahmud stressed.
Mahmud called on Mr. President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and all the anti-graft agencies to investigate the disappearance of the 15 months salary arrears and allowances despite its inclusion in both the Supplementary Budget 2022 and the Virement. It was alleged few months back that the National Assembly recovered some unspecified amounts of money from the past leaders, Senator Lawan and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila. But till this moment, the Clerk of the National Assembly, Tambuwal, had been adamant while personnel in the account section of the National Assembly claimed that they have been waiting for approval from the Clerk to commence payment, approval which has turned a mirage.
Our findings revealed that many of these affected aides can no longer endure the hardship and difficulties they have been going through due to the greed and unpatriotic actions of the National Assembly management, their condition became worse as the recent subsidy regime had made affected staff who can barely afford medical treatment, feed their families as appropriate, this prompt a call for intervention by relevant authorities and plead on the present administration to further beam its anticorruption search light on the expenditure of the National Assembly under Senator Ahmad Lawan.
Efforts to contact the Clerk, National Assembly, Mr. Sani Tambuwal proved unsuccessful as his phone was unreachable as at the time of filling this report, but an official in the National Assembly Annex, that housed the Account department who claimed anonymity said reason for the delay in payment remain unclear.