For years, the earnings of members of the National Assembly has been an issue of controversy, with reports of them being one of the highest in the world. In this report, Muhabarishaji looks at the work environment for staff of the National Assembly.
For civil servants working in the National Assembly, the reality has been very grim. In February, the legislative aides had to shut down the complex with protests for 22 months allowances the management was owing them.
It took the threat of strike by the workers under the aegis of Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria, (PASAN), National Assembly chapter, for the lawmakers to implement the national minimum wage for the workers.
The first sign of the grim reality starts from the sight of the shuttles buses. The buses which are in terrible conditions, take people from the Eagle Square junction to the second gate of the National Assembly.
These buses are in sharp contrast to exotic vehicles the lawmakers ordered for themselves. In 2020, the lawmakers reportedly took delivery of 400 exotic Toyota Camry 2020 model and 14 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado sports utility.
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“They are driving luxurious vehicles, but we the workers are to use these as shuttle. They even increased the price from N30 to N50,” a worker at the National Assembly told Muhabarishaji.
Our reporter observed that the shuttles only take the passenger to half of the road, while they have to go through extra security checks at the entrance.
“Before, we used to have these coaster buses run by PASAN for staff. They pick passengers from the junction and take them to the white house. Due to lack of maintenance, the vehicles are not working again,” another staff told Muhabarishaji.
The NASS shuttle can only take staff to the second gate, where they are obligated to trek the remaining distance to their offices.
Lawmakers in Maitama, Workers in Mararaba, Suleja
Findings also revealed that due to the high cost of rent in the Abuja metropolis, most workers in the National Assembly cannot afford the high cost of rent, hence, most live outside FCT, some in Suleja in Niger State and Mararaba in Nassarawa State.
For most workers in Mararaba axis, traffic congestion is another major source of worry.
For senators who get N4.02 million annually as housing allowance, the prime locations are the options for them. Maitama, Guzape, Asokoro, Katampe are their options. Their colleagues in the lower chamber also earn N3.9 million annually for accommodation. These figures are according to the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission.
These lawmakers also get 6.0 million and 5.9 million once in 4 years as Senators and Reps respectively for furniture. Aside from these, the lawmakers also get the controversial cost of running office which is about N13.5 million per month for Senators and N11.5 million per month for Reps members.
For some of these workers, getting accommodation within the city on civil servants salary is highly impossible considering rents in the city. To cushion the effect of travelling, the management of the National Assembly provided PASAN with some vehicles to take staff to some selected locations like Mararaba, Masaka, and Keffi, all in Nasarawa State. Others are Karu, Lugbe, Karishi and Suleja.
Most workers residing in Mararaba axis often have to delay going home till late in the evening to avoid the traffic congestion, while also leaving as early as 5: 30 am to beat the traffic in the morning.
According to a Physiotherapist, Rahmat Ibraheem, traffic has an impact on productivity for workers.
“Staying in traffic for a long period leads to production of the stress hormone, which can make you less relaxed when you get to work or at home at night. The sitting position in some of our public vehicles is another issue, due to the number of passengers they carry at a go. The implication is that this leads to muscle wastage and stiffness.” she said.
She added that the “body must be in synergy to be effective, and when stress hormones are produced.”
For most workers, muscle wellbeing may be a luxury considering that inflation on the prices of food items continues to grow.
Muhabarishaji observes that while the workers struggle daily with the challenges of transportation and others, lawmakers go about with exotic cars.
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