Nigeria: Judicial, Legislative Workers Give Fresh Conditions to Suspend Strike

13 May 2021

Striking judicial and legislative workers have given fresh conditions to suspend their industrial action, insisting that the federal government should prevail on governors to immediately release all outstanding allocations due to the other two arms of government, still in their custody since the beginning of the year.

The workers restated that they would not negotiate the provisions of the constitution on financial autonomy for the two arms of government and demanded that the governors should immediately set in motion the process of establishing the fund allocation committees in all the states.

THISDAY gathered that the leadership of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) and Parliamentary Staff Association of Nigeria (PASAN) made the demands in a written response to the proposals made by state governors and the federal government on how to resolve the dispute over financial autonomy for the judiciary and legislature in each state of the federation.

The federal government and the governors of the 36 states had earlier agreed on a revenue-sharing formula to resolve the raging dispute over the full implementation of financial autonomy for state judiciaries and legislatures.

The new proposal, which was given to the leadership of both the workers' unions at a conciliatory meeting last Thursday in Abuja, sought to replicate the federal revenue-sharing structure in the states.

THISDAY had reported exclusively that under the new template, the governors would establish, within 45 days of the agreement, States Accounts Allocation Committee (SAAC) to share revenues among the executive, the judiciary and the legislature, the same way the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) shares revenue between the federal, states and local government councils.

But in their response to the government's proposal, which was submitted to the Ministry of Labour and Employment on Tuesday, the striking workers also demanded that a law be immediately enacted to back the implementation of any agreement reached with the governors.

A top official of one of the unions told THISDAY that the workers were also demanding that "in consonance with the Executive Order 10, that whatever monies that are in the possession of the governors and are yet to be disbursed should be disbursed immediately."

He added that the unions are also insisting that there should be uniformity of the law setting up the fund allocation committees to ensure a common template for revenue sharing in all the 36 states of the federation.

The official said: "We demand that there should be a law in all the states to back up the revenue-sharing template. In addition, in consonance with Executive Order 10, the governors should also ensure that whatever that is their hands that they have not disbursed are released. They should disburse it immediately. They should put in motion the process of setting up the State Fund Allocation Committee as proposed.

"There should be uniformity in the law setting up the revenue sharing template in all the states. We don't want a variant of the law. It doesn't matter what a state generates. We know that every state will not have the same amount because some of the states earn derivation fund. What is important is that the sharing formula is the same."

On having the governors as signatories to any agreement reached to resolve the financial autonomy dispute, the source said JUSUN and PASAN insisted that each state governor should sign the agreement by himself and not through a third party.

Meanwhile, in continuation of negotiations to end the dispute, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, on Tuesday held a meeting with the representative of the Nigeria Governors' Forum and Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong, on how to respond to issues raised by the striking workers.

THISDAY learnt that the meeting followed the receipt of a written response by the workers to an earlier offer made by the governors in a bid to resolve the lingering dispute.

It was learnt that Ngige, Lalong and others were not able to trash out the issues and had agreed to meet again yesterday (Wednesday) in order to allow for wider consultations.

THISDAY also learnt that a meeting with the leadership of the workers may be convened tomorrow to iron out the remaining issues with a view to secure the suspension of the strike.

JUSUN and PASAN have been on strike for over one month.

The unions are seeking the full implementation of the constitutionally guaranteed financial autonomy for state legislatures and judiciaries.

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